Tribune Print Share Text

Title

The Lucky Greyhound

Created date

March 28th, 2014
The Lucky Greyhound
The Lucky Greyhound

This brief and beguiling book by artist Beverly Hembold Erschell (erschell.com) attracts a wide audience—art lovers, dog lovers, and all ages. It’s ideal to share with grandchildren, or simply to enjoy by oneself. Erschell, in prose and in paintings, tells us about her dog Maple, a greyhound who just never fit into the normal greyhound lifestyle. The grit that produces competitive spirit isn’t part of Maple’s generous makeup. “She had the physique, but not the personality to compete,” Erschell writes, despite being “born into a family of ‘working greyhounds,’ whose jobs were winning races at a dog track.”  

Failed greyhounds and those too old to race successfully can be put up for adoption and another life as individuals’ pets or, for Maple, a job she was suited for, with a veterinarian. Like other greyhounds, she has a high level of red blood cells and is a coveted animal blood donor. Her friendly spirit and pleasure with people seemed wasted here, however, and the doctor offered Maple to Erschell, “an artist who would give the dog a real home.” But one of the doctor’s lab technicians, Audra, also loved Maple, and in the end she and Erschell would share her. Maple spends time with each.

Cavorting on canvas

Erschell’s art has some of the characteristics of the dog herself: it appears spontaneous, is composed of swoops and swings and—unlike dun-colored Maple—glories in color. The greyhound’s elegant lines provide a focal point in the exuberance of the landscapes and room-scapes in which we see her cavorting. Maple has, in the end, become The Lucky Greyhound of the book’s title. She learns to go up and down stairs, an experience not provided in her early life; she enjoys riding in open cars; she switches households with ease. Despite continuing attempts, however, she is never able to catch a squirrel.

The reader learns about this distinctive breed, about a greyhound’s thin skin and single layer of hair (the reason dog tracks are in warm climates), about the fact that they hunt by sight, not by scent. They are, Erschell tells us, one of the oldest breeds, favored by Egyptian pharaohs and sometimes buried along with their royal masters. 

Maple herself seems to exemplify the breed’s legendary grace, which led Erschell to find a new job for her, as artist’s model.  Maple poses for the students at the Art Academy of Cincinnati, where Erschell herself was once a student. The artist/author holds degrees in art from the University of Cincinnati, is represented in public and private art collections, and has been featured in numerous exhibitions.

In the course of telling Maple’s story, Erschell also includes information on the greyhound adoption movement and the individual attributes of the breed.  She says, “Maple opened a whole new world of history, people, enlightenment, and inspiration.” The Lucky Greyhound is available at cincybooks.com, amazon.com, and in bookstores.

Comments