Leslie Wood Kamman is an artist / photographer who lives in Portland and who has been one of the associates of the AIR Gallery since its opening in Pioneer Place in 2016. Leslie works in primarily encaustics, with a particular interest in incorporating rust into her works. Her dog Murphy shines a particularly important light into the lives of Leslie and her husband Joe.


He lay against my chest the whole way home, only leaving once to pee on the folded newspaper on the passenger floor. Truly amazing I thought to myself…a genius pup! And so good looking too!

Yes, our boy Murphy was born with a coat that all Westies pine for, ears in perfect balance to the head and the adorable big black button nose.

He knew we were enamored with him…played it to his full advantage. During the first two years we set about boring friends and family with the incessant “tales of Murphy.” All the endearing, hysterical and clever things he would do. You would have thought he was our first born child!!

This boy was all about the food! At first he guarded it, so we put our hands all over it. Then he started wolfing it down, fast, only to end up in the ER choking. We started feeding him by hand piece by piece until he built some trust.

Ah, but the silver lining…Murphy would do anything for food no matter how tiny the piece, come, sit, stay, speak, paw and the famous sneeze. My favorite was “leave it” as it showed his amazing self control, unusual for strong willed terriers.

Murphy grew into a curious, adventurous, engaging dog. He loved hikes in the woods, walking and wading on the beach, jumping through hoops and walking the “teeter” at agility classes; always with a smile and hopeful eyes looking for a treat. He’s even done some traveling on airplanes in a carrier under the seat until he hovered too close to the 20 lb. limit to risk having him turned away.


Today at 14 he is a bit of a curmudgeon, however his eyes are still bright at the mention of a w-a-l-k, the b-e-a-c-h or when the toys come out however briefly. There is still spunk in his steps but not for so many of them. After two knee surgeries, Murphy is not able to jump up, but each evening he takes his place next to me on the couch, in his own space. We will continue to lift him up there as long as necessary, enduring the growls and barring of teeth because he would rather do it himself.

Murphy keeps me laughing everyday. That is perhaps his most valuable trait along with his love and loyalty. We are content to move forward as kindred spirits, a little more slowly, savoring the moments and taking every opportunity for a treat.

You can follow Leslie on Face Book, find her work in the upcoming Big 500 Show on December, 9, 2017, in this month’s AIR Gallery show, in on her page in this month’s issue.