CDW Interview: Tillamook Cheddar by way of Bowman Hastie

Bowman Hastie with Doc and Tillie

Last month we did a post, article, story, whatever you wanna call these things, about a dog with an amazing talent of creating her own artwork, traveling to her own shows and selling the goods. We were so in awe, we felt inclined to do our usual prying to get more info and boy did we get the poop, err scoop. No, actually we did get the poop on Tillamook Cheddar… continue reading for the full interview.


CDW: Thanks for the interview Bowman, we were so intrigued by Tillamook when we first read about her we were dying to know more…but first things first, what in the world inspired you to name her, Tillamook Cheddar?

I grew up in Oregon, where I ate a lot of Tillamook Cheddar–the most popular cheese there. Being a cheese enthusiast, I decided to name my dog after a cheese. My sister Amelie suggested Cheddar, and I had the idea to lengthen it to Tillamook Cheddar, or Tillie for short. Of course this predated her inclinations toward art.

CDW: That’s cute, maybe I should have named my chocolate Lab, “Ghirardelli”, I eat a lot of it. When did you know Tillie had a gift, I know she was pretty young when she did her first piece but did she have any other special talents that gave an inkling of what was to come?

Well there was one incident, but it’s kind of gross. When Tillie was very young, and still being crate/house-trained, I woke up from a nap one day to a curious surprise. Tillie had had the run of the apartment while I had been sleeping, and she had done some business on the floor, but she had missed NY Times Business section I had laid out for that purpose. Her placement wasn’t the surprise, however. The surprise was that the little present she had left on the linoleum carried a shocking human form. The poop so resembled a man—flat on his back, with a defined torso, legs, arms, hands clasped in his lap, and something of a smirk on his face—that I took a picture of it and named the photo “Poop Man.” (The incident preceded her first attempts at drawing by a couple months.) I consider the work Tillie’s first sculpture, and I write about it in her biography, Portrait of the Dog as a Young Artist (Sasquatch Books, 2006). The publisher decided against including this photo in the book, but I can email you the image, if you’d like.

CDW: Uhhhh, yes I’m intrigued to see it and I’m surprised to be asking to see it but yes, send it! Now we all know Tillie is an extraordinary dog/artist but tell us some things she does that’s totally doggie like, favorite toys, favorite place to be rubbed, favorite treats…

Besides making art, Tillie loves food and she loves chasing squirrels. She’s also really good at running and jumping to catch balls when I throw them. She’s very athletic and acrobatic. She is fascinated by cats, and there are a few select people she absolutely adores. She also likes rough-housing with her son Doc, and reminding him who’s boss.

CDW: What’s up with Doc, when did Tillie have a litter and how many pups did she have? Is Doc looking to have a promising career in the art world?

Tillie had 6 puppies on July 10, 2005. I don’t think Doc has the same gift as Tillie. I’m hoping he’ll find a job soon, but it will have to be in his own time–I don’t want to rush him or pressure him into anything he doesn’t want to do. One of his sisters, Lillie lives with my mother. Doc’s full name is Doc Chinook Strongheart Cheddar. Do you know about Strongheart? He’s the original canine movie star, from the 1920s! (if not, see books by J. Allen Boone) Maybe Doc will have an acting career, or maybe he’ll enter politics. He’s extremely social and good-natured.

CDW: Nope, never heard of Strongheart but that’s something we’ll need to look into. If Doc starts acting, you’ll be running all over the country with art shows and auditions! Tell us about Tillie’s art shows. How much of your life is devoted to helping Tillie with her career? Does she paint everyday and how does she let you know when she’s in the “artsy” mood?

Yes, Tillie has art shows. As a rough estimate, I’d say about 50% of my constructive energies go toward furthering my dog’s art career. She’s always in the mood and never passes up the opportunity to paint. Unfortunately for her, she has to rely on me to set up the materials–just like she and Doc need me to open the backdoor right now to chase the squirrels out of the yard–so when I’m lazy she doesn’t get to work. Tillie’s work ethic is much stronger than mine.

CDW: A few more questions about Tillie, does she attend all of the art shows?

Yes, Tillie attends all her art shows. (I don’t think anyone wants to just see me there!) Her son Doc joins us at the local ones, but when we’re traveling by air, usually it’s just me and Tillie. I don’t think Tillie cares too much about seeing her art on display, but she likes the attention (to a point!) and she mostly hangs out near the cheese table.

CDW: The cheese table, that’s appropriate! How did you come to acquire Tillie, was she a gift or did you pick her out of a litter?

Both. My mom offered to get me a puppy for my 30th birthday, and I picked out Tillie from a litter in Greenwich, CT.

CDW: Where does Tillie sleep?

Tillie, Doc, and I all sleep in the same bed, along with the occasional woman willing to put up with all of us.

CDW: Alrighty! If Tillie could talk, what do you think she’d say about her life and about her son, Doc?

While I am always willing to speak up on Tillie’s behalf, I don’t like putting words in her mouth. I hope she would say she’s happy with her life. Regarding Doc, I think she might echo my refrain: ‘The kid needs a job’.

Want to check out one of Tillie’s art shows for yourself? Her next exhibitions are in Bermuda, LA, and Berlin. Go to her website to find out the details. Want to view Tillie’s first natural sculpture? Take a peek at the poop.