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A French Bulldog and a Painter

Author : Chang Guo Chuan

Dou-Dou is a three-year-old French bulldog. If reckoning her age in human years, she's still a youngster. At this point, she is younger than her master, Shih Yung Chun, by more than ten years. Two years later, they'll reach the same age, and after two more years, Dou-dou will be aging four times as fast than humans. It is very likely that she shall become older than Shih Yung Chun's eighty-five-year-old father.

If Dou-dou is lucky, she may still be alive thirteen years later when her master celebrates his fiftieth birthday. In fact, she is his seventh dog. She has every reason to believe that her master, who must have collected enough dog knowledge, will take good care of her.

What's comforting to Dou-dou is the allergen testing Shih Yung Chun took her to take a year ago. He has been frugal, but this cost him ten thousand dollars. Thanks to the test, Dou-dou finally found out the prime culprit for the measles. It was her favorite food: steak, and not the damp weather, nor their old town house located in the mountains in Xindien district, Taipei.

It's a two floor and a half, one hundred and twenty-six square meter house. It only costs Shih Yung Chun eight thousand dollars per month. If it weren't this cheap, her master would never move into this kidnapper's-lair-like house. Dou-dou felt guilty for the small fortune Shih Yung Chun had spent on her; after all, it's just several drops of blood loss.From then on, she decided never to chew on his socks and legs, but his guests are a different matter. Teehee!

After quitting steak, Dou-dou doesn't get allergies anymore. Her excrement is no longer watery; it looks like a sausage and doesn't really smell bad. Her master also practices what he preaches, reminding her of the importance of health and self-restraint. But she never understands why Shih Yung Chun is so fond of smoking a pack of cigarettes a day, not to mention tobacco and pipe. However, in the last two years, he didn't smoke that much. Chased by the deadlines of the exhibitions coming one after another, Shih Yung Chun worked from eight in the morning to six in the evening with barely any exceptions, and sometimes worked overtime for one or two more hours. He doesn't smoke when he paints.

Dou-dou feels contradictory. Is it right for Shih Yung Chun to work long hours? Indeed, he earns more so that she gets more toys. He does smoke less, but he talks less and walks her less. And, is it right to have a big bunch of friends? Every meeting puts them on cloud nine; they smoke a lot, talk a lot, and drink a lot. The Consequences: he returns doing nothing and calls it a day. These friends consider Dou-dou far more adorable than Shih Yung Chun, so they scramble to draw Dou-dou's attention to play. That makes her super excited. But seriously, it's really tiring to play with these abnormal people.

When Dou-dou's got nothing better to do, she lays on the white rattan settee watching Shih Yung Chun paint. This tedious process makes her eyelids grow heavy. As her eyes narrow smaller than her nostrils, she falls asleep. And yes, she snores.

In the field of art appreciation, Dou-dou has reached some achievements. She ponders if her master spends too much time with her. What he sees is getting more like what a dog sees.

Dogs are not sensitive to colors. They can only tell limited colors usually with twenty-five percent reduction in hue. In other words, every color in a dog's eyes is bleached. Shih Yung Chun's colors are diluted, worn and frayed as well, and it makes his paintings more like the clothes worn several years cleansed with laundry powders.

But dogs are sensitive to the things they are familiar with. They are in faith of their own toy bones, blankets and beds. Their masters' odors give them senses of security that are second to none. Shih Yung Chun is also nostalgic. Stained tables and chairs, out-of-the-market fridge, CRT TV, wind-up toys, and giggling rubber dolls become the props in Shih Yung Chun's paintings. These daily objects from the last generation are instead his tendency in art and in life. Apparently, this moderate young man is obsessed with the imaginary world in the sense of nostalgia. He composes of his parodies with the details in daily lives, imagining one scenario after another. He plays playing house alone, by his own rules.

Dogs are neat creatures. More precisely, they expect their masters to manage their body hygiene and tidy environments. Of course, as a member of reputable Frenchie, Dou-dou is very willing to pay back her gratitude with loyalty and being a perfect companion.

Shih Yung Chun himself is like a dignified French bulldog as well. He is organized, intelligent and muscular; he tidies up his working and living space in a systematic way. Even Dou-dou knows to maintain the environment neat to make him proud. Shih Yung Chun's compulsive finickiness is reflected on his works. He is never hurried yet not slow; his works are dramatic but not exaggerated. Although he is trying hard to reach the high standards he set up for himself, he always looks carefree, relaxed, pretending to be cool.

Dogs like to possess real things. If a dog wanted a bone, it wants the real bone that could be able to chew. It doesn't want a photo of bone, nor a slip of paper written "B-O-N-E." As for Dou-dou, she often got a used toothbrush from her master. Never mind this, it's just for chewing, no need to fuss.

But the real fussy one is Shih Yung Chun. He insists paint objects, scenes and happenings in real life. When sketching, he looks at the props in his studio over and over again, not just looking at the photos. He earns these nostalgic last century commodities by his hard work on paintings. If possible, he would display the objects in the paintings at the exhibitions.

The average life expectancy of a dog ranges between fifteen to twenty years. That is to say, its life process is quite different with humans. A dog year is equivalent to four human years. According to this progression, an eighteen-year-old dog is probably as old as an eighty-year-old man.

If Shih Yung Chun were a dog, he would be an immortal dog that had lived for thirty-eight years. His age may equal to a super-centenarian born before the 11th Wuchang Uprising. Shih Yung Chun is a young man with an inconsistent old soul. He attempts to look back upon the bizarre and familiar fragments in lives of others and of his own with his unsaturated eyesight.

Life of a Frenchie and a painter may not be some news. However, if you saw Shih Yung Chun's left arm with a half sleeve tattoo, which is the combined portrait of him and Dou-dou, you'll understand how deep the unrequited love is between this man and his dog.

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