Marianne, it has been years since I heard about one of Chopin's waltzes being inspired by a little dog. I am not sure which waltz that was. I thought it was either Op.34 No.3 in F Major, or Op. 64, No.1 in D flat Major -- the one we call the "Minute Waltz".
I remember your saying that teachers in Russia want to teach The Seasons
only to serious, accomplished students (because they don't want to hear the pieces badly played). Well, it is time for teachers to do that to some of Chopin's works. Even though I adored Chopin, I got to a point where I simply couldn't listen to his music, because people played it badly, and with such egotism.
I never thought I could stand to hear Op.64, No.1 in D flat (the Minute Waltz) again, but I listened to SVR play in on the Red Seal recording and it was amazing. He used mathematically precise, split-second timing in that piece. I had never even imagined the possibilities until I heard his interpretation.
The little dog that Rachmaninoff is holding in the picture looks like a poodle, but I never read of him having a poodle. They must have had several dogs at Ivanovka.