Elizabeth Briel, Travel Artist


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Lapdog

Hong Kong lapdog
Lapdog, Original Cyanotype with watercolor on cold press cotton paper, approx. A3 size, 2008

One sunny Sunday afternoon, I strolled the streets of my favorite island in Hong Kong, seeking a dog to photograph for the kids book I was illustrating.  I was on the lookout for one of those creatures that look more like a stuffed toy than a real pet. Sometimes they’re even pushed by doting owners in mini dog strollers.

On that sunny spring afternoon I set off for Pizza Milano. Between bites of pizza, I snapped pictures of furry creatures, but the longed-for shot of a pet on four wheels remained out of reach.

Then I saw a couple dressed in casual designer outfits, all ready for their weekend trip to the wild outlying islands of Hong Kong. The husband carried their dog; typically owners like these don’t want pets getting their paws – and their household floors – dirty. The wife wore a sun visor that matched her dog’s, and held on tightly to the leash.

I hadn’t seen anything so coordinated since the Couples’ Sets worn by fiances around Korea.

The dog panted, its mouth half-open in the early summer heat. It was happy to be carried. I enhanced the dog’s smile with watercolor, as its bared teeth looked too fierce for a kids’ bedtime story. But still the dog’s eyes have a sinister look to them.

People may hold on to the leash, but lapdogs know they have their owners wrapped round a pair of fuzzy paws.

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