This week was a first for me; I visited an ack-shull ART gallery to interview Coco and Joey Stringer, who own and operate the gallery with their Dads. Coco and Joey are brother and sister Mini-Yorkies who work as Official Greeters and sometimes models.
Soon as we walked in, the nice receptionist said we were Expected. Sure enough, pretty soon we heard teeny little toes racing across the carpet, then two pooches appeared, in blue and pink, and pranced right up for the (perfectly executed, almost balletic) Wag-and-Sniffs. I was impressed.
They were SO mini! I mean, Yorkies are little anyway, but these two coulda fit in my kibbles dish. No Woof! But their personalities and joie de vivre (that’s French. I Googled) were not mini whatsoever.
“On behalf of the entire gallery family, welcome! I’m Joey. This is my sister, Coco. And these are our Dads, John and Caesar.”
“I’m delighted to make your acquaintances. This place is lovely.”
“Thank you! We enjoy it,” said Coco. “Come, let’s sit down.”
They led us to a comfy seating area, with really pretty pictures all around. Coco and Joey hopped onto a big, round footstool. I got my notebook out. “I’m eager to learn how you became fine art aficionados.”
“We’ve been learning about art since we were puppies, back in 2013,” Coco began. “It’d been years since our Dads had a dog. Work was real hectic: They were always going back and forth from here to their gallery Up North. When they finally settled here year round, they decided it was time to look for a Small Polite Dog. After a lotta searching, they found a breeder in Melbourne Beach. They found a picture of ME on the website and saw right away that I was Fabulous! So they drove up to meet me In The Fur.”
“Oooo, lemme tell this part,” interrupted Joey. “Anyway, so our Dads came up to see Coco. Even as an itsy puppy (1.7 pounds), she was really somethin’, Show Quality, the humans said; a total pooch supermodel, polite but not very snuggly. Kinda a diva. (No offense, sis.)
“Me, on the other paw, I’m just naturally cuddly. Even though I was the runt of the litter (1.2 pounds, which isn’t very many), I came right up to our future Dads and did all my Puppy Moves. My in-stinks told me they were gonna be the Best Family EVER.
“Well, our Dads just cudn’t decide between us. Finally, they figured, ‘Hey, we could get BOTH!’ Daddy John says it was the best decision they ever made!”
“Your life must be so exciting!” I commented. “Bein’ around all this art and getting’ to meet ack-shull AR-tists!”
“Oh, it IS!” said Joey. “We’re always learnin’ stuff. Like all the different ways colors can go together. Sometimes you know right away what a picture is, like a flower or a ball or one of those birds, and sometimes you don’t know WHAT it is, but it still makes you feel happy, or sad or something. We also learned to NEVER put our noses in paint.”
“We meet artists from all over the world, and they just LOVE us,” said Coco. “We’re even the subject of several paintings. And one of our artists, Cathy Ferrell, did a sculpture of us!”
Daddy John brought in a little bronze sculpture on a disc of green marble, a small edition of the original, Coco explained. It was aMAZing.
“Woof! That is Pawsome Dog Biscuits!”
“Totes!” said Joey. “Greeting’s our official job, but I found out I have, like, a gift for knowing what sorta painting a person will like. One day, a lady came in looking for a special painting. She seemed sorta stressed. You know how us pooches can sense that stuff.”
“Yes I do.”
“We greeted her as usual, and she asked if she could pick me up. Daddy John said sure. So she scooped me up and snuggled me while she looked around. I was happy an relaxed, an pretty soon, she was, too. I’d give her lotsa little (not slurpy) Puppy Kisses when we looked at paintings in my favorite style, French Impressionism. She was trying to decide among three paintings, and I kept giving her Puppy Kisses, cuz I liked ’em all. She finally decided to take ’em all. Daddy John said, ‘Whaddya want for dinner tonight, Joey?’”
“What didja have?” I asked.
“I believe it was Kibbles a L’orange with Jasmine Rice. ’Cept for the kibbles, our Dads prepare our food special. We eat natural stuff only. Daddy John says if he can’t pronounce it, we don’t eat it. We’re real healthy.”
“Joey was a clumsy puppy but I helped him blossom,” Coco said. “I toughened him up, ya know, like a Big Sister should.”
“Works for me” Joey said. “But, guess what? Much as I love the visual arts, I also love classical music. And I can sing. Our Dads called me their Child Star. Daddy Caesar helps me. Listen! I’ll do a little something from ‘Rigoletto.’”
After some encouraging woofs from Daddy Caesar, Joey began to sing. Not just a buncha barks, either. It was really Cool Kibbles, and he had great range.
“Totally Pawsome, Joey! Whaddya do after work?”
“We love the beach, and the dog park. And we have a million toys,” said Coco. “Our Dads say the house look like FAO Schwartz. We also visit people in an assisted living place. We sit on their laps. It makes ’em happy, and us, too!”
“Bottom line,” said Joey, “We love our life. We’re doing what we love – in paradise. It’s great!”
The front bell rang and they jumped down and zoomed back to work.
Heading home, I was thinking about fine art, and wondering if that picture of those dogs playing cards counted. You know the one I mean, right?