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The Art of James Mellick: Ghost Dog
                                                                                                                                             Ghost Dog, 2012
                                                                                                                                        Available for Purchase
                                                                                                                   15 " x 45" x 17", ambrosia maple with copper details

            (A continuous series of "ghost dogs" have been created since the middle 1990's when Governor Mitt Romney purchased his first from An American Craftsman in NYC)

When Penelope Ruger got the call that her dog, Styx passed away, she was away on a week-long chartered bus tour of maple syrup tasting in New England. She had just checked into the Minute Man's Bed and Breakfast in Norwich Vermont, exhausted and nauseous after a harrowing bus ride in the Green Mountains. Her tour brochure said nothing about the combination of diesel fumes, the conspicuous consumption of maple candy and curving mountain roads.

As the time of the tour approached, she had sensed that Styx did not want her to leave him alone with the house sitters, a newly wed couple from Texas who always jumped at the chance of getting out of their mobile home and into the wide open spaces of the Ruger's master bedroom. Styx knew first hand that all they wanted to do was float in the billowy folds of a feather tick the size of a ball field. Penelope's late husband had built the four poster bed fifty years ago and he would have shifted in his grave if he knew the youthful stress being put upon his antique. After all, beds are to age gracefully with their owners. Styx thought the house sitters had only one thing on their minds and it involved neither the house or sitting. His meal and exercise times were often irregular or missed altogether.

It seems that during one of these marathon events on the "field of dreams", Styx took out his resentment of being left behind and then ignored, by quaffing down several foil wrapped packages of frozen waffles. They were thawing down on the kitchen table while the real heat was being generated upstairs.

He died that night of a twisted stomach.

On her long ride home she thought of her faithful dog, always at her heels, following her from room to room. The opening of a wrapper (which he had obviously never learned to do himself) or the clanking of a spoon against a bowl, mysteriously materialized Styx at her side. She would miss him.

Time has not lessened Penelope's grief over Styx and her big Victorian house seems unusually lonely except she feels his presence. When fixing popcorn she often hears prancing feet and the jingling dog tags.

...And late at night, when she's heading upstairs to her own field of memories, out of the corner of her eye she often catches glimpses of him following, passing from room to room.