Pet Rescue Art: If I am breathing I will be rescuing.
I just recently finished this little diddy…I decided a long time ago that since we all exit this life the same way eventually (empty handed and six feet under) that rather than accumulate “things or experiences” that I wanted to be completely used up when I die…I choose to use up whatever energy and resources I have being involved with pet rescue…whether its using my art, caring for my own house full of rescues, training rescue dogs or fostering homeless dogs…it is truly the highest privilege in life to find the vocation God destined me for…I live a blessed life.
This painting is an acrylic on canvas…11×14…glossy archival finish. This and many other of my paintings are available at my ETSY shop. I donate a portion of all of my sales to pet rescue groups.
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I firmly believe that what we do in this life will follow us in to the next life. We all leave a trace while we are here…some call it a legacy…be it small or grand though it will follow us. My trace, like most people’s I suppose, is a mix of good and bad. I had my wild years…the years where what I left behind was more like a stain than a trace. But my animals continue to rub my rough edges off. I will leave no grand legacy…just a trace of life with animals. I hope that trace is learning to work with difficult dogs (who for some reason are the one’s that steal my heart) and sharing the realities of how poorly animals still fare in our increasingly complex and unfeeling world through my art.
I started painting just a few years ago. My muse was my Rottie Hercules. He was also the reason I had to learn to train dogs. Like his human mama…he was head strong, difficult, didn’t always play well with others and enthusiastic about everything he did (good and bad). After he died I had a broken heart for a long time. It seemed like no time had passed at all before I was losing my clear mental picture of him…I felt like I was losing his face. So I started doodling/drawing him and then one day picked up some cheap pastel paints and painted him. On the left is this very first painting.
I was hooked after this..painting became my outlet. Every time I felt moved in regards to my own animals or the fate of other animals…I turned to painting to work it out. I am what they call in the art world an “outsider”. I have no formal training…actually I do not even have any informal training. All I have is a desire and passion to speak for animals through art. It was therapeutic for me…I never thought that what I was doing would resonate with others.
Two year ago I finally had enough paintings finished to open an ETSY shop. I started my little art shop with the hope that it would be a way for me to give voice to homeless animals and raise money for homeless animals while still being able to be present at home for my own house full of rescued pets (I have eight of them).
In the last two years I have shipped art to 29 states (CRAZY) and the momentum continues to build. The first three months of this year allowed us to raise our largest amount of funds so far …just over $1,200.00…I hope this momentum continues and I can’t say enough how much I appreciate everyone who frequents my shop, sends me referrals and connects me with rescue groups running large auctions.
I raise money in two ways…the largest portion is from my original paintings that go straight to charity auctions to raise money. My highest single auction sale to date has been $700.00 for one painting. If anyone had told me that I would make a painting that fetched that kind of money I would have laughed at them. I also donate a percentage of any sales of my art and handmade leashes from my ETSY shop to rescue charities.
Parting with my art is an odd thing. I am of course happy when I sell a piece or ship one off to auction. But there is also a strange remorse. I am parting with a piece of myself that I will never see again. It really is quite strange.
Fortunately, I am blessed with a house full of rescued cats and dogs that are my constant muse for my art. They give me so many ideas for more paintings that it feels like I have ping pong balls bouncing around in my head…I have to write them down or I will clutter them out. My website has been a great place to share my ideas and I appreciate everyone who reads and comments here.
Every life is precious…and that means the sweet animals too! God Bless and thanks for your support over the last two years!
I live in a state where the news flow is littered with stories of animal neglect and abuse…you really can’t avoid seeing it unless you choose to shut the world out completely. Every time I see a new story I look at my own dogs and wonder how could it happen so often. The reality is that I know how it happens…people who abuse the innocent…whether its a child, an elderly person, a
handicapped person or an animal are spiritually sick. The rest of society has to take the responsibility to do their best to protect the innocent and vulnerable from the spiritually sick. I painted this little diddy after I read about a particularly disturbing animal abuse case right here in Scott County…I won’t retell it…but it was horrible. This painting went viral pretty quick on Pinterest….guess I am not the only one who feels protective of my dogs!
My dog’s are all sweeties…but all shall pity the fool who messes with mama’s dogs!
Do you love all things pet and pet rescue? Follow me on Facebook or Pinterest…check out my ETSY shop for this other and other paintings!
Pet Rescue Art…important messages from the pets we love…
Hands down… the sassiest dog I have ever met is our Lhasa mix; Lacey Mae. They say that the dogs that challenge us the most are the dogs we love the most…I can say from experience that this is true. Lacey was a challenge literally from the moment I met her…and we love every bit of her. Now that my shop is up and running steady I (in theory) have time to expand this year and Lacey Mae is going to step up to the plate and become my newest Pawffiti Artist. Through her I plan to do some Pawffiti Art that is considerably more snarky than I have done in the past.
Lacey’s persona evolved over a series sketches that occurred on Saturday nights. My husband’s favorite thing to do on Saturday nights is watch UFC matches. He likes me to watch with him. So just like he does, when I drag him to the opera, I sit and enjoy UFC with him. I usually bring either a sketch pad or some yarn and a crochet hook. It was on a few of these Saturday fight nights that Lacey’s character evolved.
Lacey came to live with us shortly after Bret and I got married in 2008. For some odd reason…we decided we wanted to open our home to a small breed dog…because two labs and rottweiler weren’t enough for us I guess. We met Lacey through a friend who thought that perhaps we could give this “troubled little dog” a chance.
We drove about an hour to meet her. We loaded up our three big dogs to do a meet and greet with Lacey. She did great with our dogs…particularly since she is just a fraction of their size. However, she pretty much just ran in circles around my husband and I and growled at us. When I tried to greet her…at what I thought was a safe distance…she charged, jumped up and bit my nose….HARD. Oddly enough…we took her home anyway. Not because we bonded with her, obviously, but because she clicked so well with our big dogs and frankly…she was out of options.
Lacey had been surrendered by her owners for “chronic biting”. She seemed to have no use for humans other than to charge, growl and chomp on them.
When we first brought her home…she spent a good portion of the day following me around the house charging me, growling and biting and my legs and hands. If the door was open…she was gone…it was like Chariots of Fire running down the street to get away. My poor husband chased her one morning in nothing but his PJ bottoms (no shoes)…into the woods…over fences..through our neighbors backyards…he caught her eventually…he wasn’t very happy with her that day.
Lacey is smart…and despite her growly ways…all she wanted was some attention. She very quickly figured out that she would get plenty of attention when she was calm and gentle…when she wasn’t calm and gentle…she was ignored. It didn’t take her long at all to win us over and show us her charming and affectionate side.
Lacey will always be a sassy dog with boundaries that need to be respected. She has personal space issues (so does mommy)…and she will snap at someone if they push her too far. But we know her limits and she knows our rules…she has become an irreplaceable member of our family.
I am not a dog trainer that believes that every dog with problematic behavior can (or should) be saved. There are unfortunately some dogs who are just simply a danger to humans and other dogs and it is in everyone’s best interest for them to either live life out in a sanctuary (there are very few that can do this) or be humanely euthanized…it sucks (believe me it sucks) but it is sometimes the most humane outcome. Lacey however, despite being labeled a “chronic biter”, was not one of those dogs.
She has become the princess of the household…sleeping in the middle each night…riding the Harley with mom and dad…and she has become the dog we take everywhere. She runs errands with mom…she goes on vacation with both of us. She doesn’t mind dressing up (really…she doesn’t) and has a large wardrobe so she can gussy up for every occasion. She also doesn’t take any crap and has a growly opinion about just about everything…hence she is going to be my newest artist. She has always had a lot to say. I am so excited to see what happens as Lacey unfolds on canvas…I hope you will follow her progress!
Pet Rescue Art: Dog Fighting Sucks…what is wrong with Kentucky?
I live just 20 minutes north of Lexington, KY. Lexington is the horse capital of the world. In my county and several of the counties surrounding us…horses are a focal point of community life. The barns built for horses here are nicer than most folks houses. There is a retirement home for race horses a few minutes from my house…some of these horses have earned upwards of $90 million dollars in their life time. The horse is sacred here.
For the most part everyone I meet here is also a dog lover. Just about everyone has a dog or two. Hunting dogs are everywhere here…for the most part the hunting dogs live productive lives as working dogs here…the bond between the hunter and his dog something to respect. The local humane societies are well supported…and there are numerous smaller fringe rescue groups as well. But there is also a dark underworld for animals here that few folks want to talk about.
Kentucky has the worst laws in the nation for protecting animals…dead last…they are in fact a disgrace. Because of the pathetic laws the abuse and neglect of animals (especially dogs) goes on publicly and is never punished. Sure, folks can (and will) call and report the abuse they see…but there is often little the authorities can do…dogs are left to suffer out in the open for everyone to see. There are no laws here to fit the crimes of cruelty to animals here…it is a sad, sad state of affairs.
Kentucky is also the ONLY state in the nation that does not consider raising dogs for the purpose of fighting a felony…literally the only state in the nation! Why is it so important to classify raising dogs for fighting as a felony you might ask? Because this is the only way to stop dog fighting. It is very rare that the authorities will catch dog fights “in theater”…their world is too secretive. The only way to stop dog fighting, that every other state in the union has already figured out, is to bust the creeps for raising fighting dogs in the first place. In Kentucky…raising fighting dogs goes on right out in the open. Kentucky is in fact a safe haven for dog fighting.
We also must not be naive about the world of dog fighting…its not just about cruelty to animals…its about drugs and violence against humans too. These are dark hearted people with no regard for life…not a dog’s life…not my life…not your your life.
The Louisville Humane Society recently stated that 80% of the dogs they in take are pit bulls or pit mixes…80%….and most of them come in with wounds and scars reminiscent of dog fighting. We also have another problem here in Kentucky…dog fighters need bait…animals that they can use to teach their fighting dogs to kill…we therefore have an epidemic of stolen family dogs. It’s sickening…but if your dog goes missing here…we want to hope for the best but we are in fact forced to at least entertain the idea that the very worst of fates has befallen our dogs.
There is a group here; Kentucky Coalition to End Dog Fighting, that has been tirelessly working to get laws passed to make raising fighting dogs a felony. But alas…there are legislators standing in the way…many of them. They “kill the bills” to protect the dogs by adding abortion amendments, ag gag amendments and other amendments that have nothing to do with dog fighting. Its disgusting but these politicians are elected (over and over) and have been getting away with this for years. There is still a chance that a bill will pass this month where anti-dog fighting language will itself be an amendment…we can hope and pray that it passes. If it doesn’t I hope for public outrage against these legislators standing in the way…but I doubt it.
I have no desire to opine about corrupt politicians and their role in the suffering of animals here in Kentucky..most thinking people know that the role of “career politician” has simply become a euphemism for corruption…removing all “career politicians” with term limits is the only answer to cleansing our corrupt government.
I do think it is worth reflecting on the state of a society that passively stands by in the face of cruelty. Basic kindness to animals should be easy…and it should be a key measure by which we judge our communities. Abominations such as dog fighting (any kind of animal fighting) are a blight…a dark spiritual sickness that every single civilized person should be unwilling to tolerate in any form. Here though…there is an entire segment of society accepts things like dog fighting and cock fighting as part of their “culture”. Whenever there is actually a raid of a dog fighting ring or cock fighting ring here there is a hardcore group of people that are outraged by the intrusion of government on this pillar of their history and culture…literally they identify things like cock fighting as “part of their culture and heritage”.
This is a picture my husband took in eastern, Kentucky (click on it and enlarge it). If you don’t know what you are looking it…the barrels are for fighting roosters. Roosters are tied to these barrels (which are their homes) until they are taken to the ring to fight. This picture was taken “in town”…it wasn’t hidden from civil society…these fighting roosters were being raised right out in the open for all to see…everyone driving by knows what the fate of these roosters will be…and nothing can be done for them.
Where I personally struggle the most with issues like cruelty to animals is NOT in pondering “how could they?”…”how could anyone be so cruel?”…I don’t wonder that at all…I know exactly how individual people can be so cruel…they are spiritually sick…in many cases spiritually bankrupt.
What I do struggle with is how can everyone else stand by and do nothing…how can we have a such a high level of “dis-interest” in ending cruel practices going on in our own communities…Most of us would never consider engaging in the world of dog fighting or cock fighting ..but at least in Kentucky…the voting population repeated elects legislators who refuse to put a legal end to it. This is a dark blemish on our society…we (Kentuckians) must end it…we (Kentuckians) cannot stand by in disgust and judgment rather we must be the voices for these animals. We have to do something about it…the animals can not put an end to dog fighting…but we can.
It appears there is one last chance for Kentuckians to speak up and encourage our legislators to finally do the right thing and stop dog fighting. There is a bill that has passed the Senate…was amended in the house and now must pass the Senate with the amendments again. It is SB143 and it has the anti-dog fighting provision as an amendment. Will you make the phone call? Call your state senator (800-372-7181)…call the Senate leadership…ask them to support SB143 and to take a stand against dog fighting. If you don’t know who your Senator is…click on the link here Kentucky Coalition to End Dog Fighting…and they have details and links to find your Senators and details about the bill. Like their page on Facebook if you want to follow this more closely…the phone calls matter THIS WEEK!!!!! I will be making the phone calls this week…will you?
I have spent the last few months learning the process of getting giclee prints made of some of my paintings…maybe I am just getting older…but navigating new things (especially technology) gets ever more complicated and frustrating. One of things I have learned the hard way with my budding art store is that it is a constant time battle to try to manage on an online store and have enough time to create. Running an online shop has required me to learn Search Engine Optimization, advertising and networking on social media and photography (which I still really stink at still). I have learned online payment systems…photo editing…the list goes on. My little art store has now shipped products to 29 different states in the U.S.! I am hoping to hit all 50 in the next year or so and at some point I would like to ship internationally.
I believe I have finally put together a cost effective yet very high quality team to get my art prints made. I am really excited that I can use my prints to generate even more funds for rescuing animals. So far in just the first quarter of 2015 The Rescue Mama Shop has generated $820 in donations of cash and merchandise to rescue groups. I am hoping to grow this number significantly throughout the year. I am hoping that my “Live to Rescue” Pawffiti will be a big part of that. When I first posted the original painting on Facebook last month it was well received and I had a lot of requests for prints (and tshirts and bumper stickers, etc).
Getting prints made requires professional photographs of the originals…I have found a wonderful photographer in Lexington (Mary Rezny) who does an amazing job creating my electronic art files for me and has been generous with her time answering my endless questions about the process. It also required finding a high quality printer that can provide archival quality prints that don’t break the bank…after test running a few shops I have been thrilled with the product I am getting from http://www.iprintfromhome.com.
I sell all of my originals and prints at my ETSY shop. 25% of the sales price of my originals go to rescue donations (the buyer can choose which rescue group gets the donation if the desire). For all of my print sales I donate 10% of the sale. I accumulate the total all quarter for my print sales and then write one check at the end of each quarter to a rescue group that I choose (which is usually a group in Kentucky as the needs for animals is so great here but there are other groups that I send to as well).
I have also been making cards with each of my new prints. They make great cards for new pet adoptions or simply as “thinking of you” cards for pet rescue friends, dog walkers, veterinarians. I am selling them for $3.99 at my shop.
This “Live to Rescue” painting was inspired by my Sparky…who as you know passed away last week. I can’t put in to words how deeply I miss him. Sparky spent his days either laying next to my easel or laying next to my desk…the house seems decidedly empty without him. I am so grateful that I have painted so many pictures of him…I bet he gets a kick out of knowing that his sweet face is hanging in so many homes around the country.
Years ago…the reason I started painting in the first place was the loss of my Rottie, Hercules. It was only a few months after he had passed that I realized I was losing my mental image of him…so I started doodling pictures of him and eventually I painted him…it was then that I realized…hey maybe I can do something productive with my painting. Here I am several years later with my own little shop. I am having fun…keeping the spirit of my dogs alive, giving voice to homeless and abused animals and raising some extra money for other dogs.
If you are interested in following my work more closely please follow my blog where I post weekly about my art, crafts and life with a house full of rescued pets and like my Facebook Page where I post daily.
Allow me to introduce you to Vera. Vera is a pittie girl who was rescued by a group called Muttley Crue Rescue in Ohio. A few weeks ago I was contacted by Muttley Cure looking for a painting for their Mardi Paws event in Cleveland, OH next month. I found Vera’s story on their website and fell in love with her…I just had to paint her. Prior to her rescue by Muttley Crue some horrid person poured hot oil on her body and left her to die. But look at her now…isn’t she lovely! I think everything about her just says “joy”. I am always amazed at how fast dogs and cats can recover both physically and emotionally after they have suffered at the hands of creepy humans.
The statement on Vera’s painting was a theme that Muttley Cure used on their website. I will be shipping off Vera’s painting for auction as soon as I have it photographed. I hope the painting raises a bunch of dough as Vera also has a heart condition and will need an expensive surgery. I will be making prints of Vera’s painting which I will put up for sale at my ETSY shop. I will donate a portion of the sale of each print to Muttley Crue. It will be a few weeks before the prints are available.
My paintings are my way of doing a little something more for dogs and cats who are still waiting for their forever home while still allowing me to be present at home for my house full of rescued pets…each painting I do is completed in a studio full of cats and dogs. Check out my Art Gallery to see more Pet Rescue paintings I have done.
Odds are I will never meet Vera but it was an honor to paint her!
Do you know a lot of heroic people? I believe I know a lot of them…I think they are all around us. Everyone has their struggles…some people wear them on their sleeve…some people bury them deep inside….but we all fight battles and those battles makes living life on life’s terms heroic in its own right. Still, we have the more obvious heroes…like our soldiers. A hero comes in many forms…and sometimes its the sweet soul who wanders to the shelter and rescues a dog…and sometimes it’s the dog.
Sparky, my black lab, has been creeping in to my art more and more…he creeps in to my dreams more too. He is very old now and sometimes I think his presence in my dreams is his way of beginning to say good-bye to me. I love to draw and paint him. He is a fascinating dog. When I first adopted him he was near a feral dog. I could not touch him or even get very close to him…he was never aggressive but he had no use for me…would not even take food from my hand. He had no concept of how to live in a home with humans and destroyed miraculous amounts of things in my home and would jump up and down (several feet up) when I put a leash on him. What kind of crazy woman adopts a dog like that might be a fair question…honestly…one that didn’t know any better.
While I was clueless then I know now that dogs come in to our lives when they are suppose to. Sparky, who for years wanted nothing to do with me…turned in to a loyal companion. He never leaves my side and has become a hero to other dogs. Whenever I hear someone say a dog is not adoptable…I cringe. Sparky was in that category. The weekend I adopted him (he had been adopted out several times and returned to the Humane Society) was his last chance…he was on doggy death row for the following week. Don’t get me wrong…the early years with Sparky were not easy….sometimes I could do nothing but cry at the things he destroyed …at the frustration of trying to manage little things like getting him in to the car. But oddly enough…in the midst of a very dark time in my life he started to change and calm down…he became the dog I needed at that time. Eventually, Sparky was the dog that went through dog training school with me…all of which were efforts to help my other dog (Hercules) who was terribly reactive. Sparky rocked dog training school…my mentor couldn’t believe his ability to focus on me (neither could I really…I think now of all the years I was underestimating what he could do). Now Sparky is the dog that I use to work with other dogs…those that are fearful and those that are reactive in the presence of other dogs. (Reactive is the politically correct way to say dog aggressive). There is something about Sparky’s presence that calms and guides other dogs to better behavior. I won’t pretend for one moment that I understand it nor do I feel the need to.
Sparky has a way of communicating with other dogs…his body language, his eyes..in ways that say all sorts of things I suppose…its so hard not to anthropomorphize our dogs…I would imagine he says things like…”knock it off you obnoxious idiot” to dogs like Buster and “follow my lead I’ve got your back” to dogs like Turnip.
But make no mistake…he is a near 100 pounds of a take no prisoners bad ass if he needs to defend his family. Very few times in all the years that Sparky has lived with me have I seen him go in to a guard dog state…but each time it has happened I have been both startled by and also proud of his fierceness…I believe he would die defending our pack. The first time my husband saw Sparky defend the pack he was shocked.
Since we moved to Kentucky Sparky has worked his magic with our two foster dogs; Turnip and Buster. Turnip is a fearful dog and Buster is a reactive dog. Sparky is a dog that gives other dogs a second chance…it is really a magical thing. Turnip was afraid of his own shadow…taking him for a walk in the neighborhood was nearly impossible…a blowing leaf, a passing car, a garbage can…all were potential threats in Turnip’s eyes. We started walking him with Sparky and it changed Turnip’s world. After his Sparky therapy…Turnip walks the hood like he owns it! Buster was an obnoxious idiot that wanted to hump and bully every dog he encountered. Sparky very quickly taught him some manners. Turnip and Buster will be Sparky’s last miracles…we declare him officially retired and will focus on caring for him in his old age.
We all owe Sparky a lot….the dogs and certainly Bret and I. We enjoy every day we have with him…and relish in the grace with which he is dealing with his old age. He is totally deaf now, his kidneys don’t function well, his hips are weak and he farts all the time…still he hangs with pack, goes on his daily walk (slooooowly) and rarely leaves my side. While he isn’t going to live here on earth with us forever…he will be in my dreams and in my art until we reunite on the other side…and I find great comfort in that. He is like magic to me…or maybe a better word is grace. Sometimes I think that in certain moments with our dogs we get rare but clear glimpses in to the mystery of grace…the only other place I have felt it is in my marriage…dogs and husband…what more could a girl want.
I leave you with all these thoughts and images of my Sparky…my sweety, my magic and when he needs to be … a badass!
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This painting has been a long time in coming…it has been on my mind since Turnip (our foster) entered our home. Seeing dogs living on chains is new for me…and it is so hard…no impossible for me to understand. When I see a dog on a chain…I DON’T think…”how could someone do this?”…because I know how one person can do this…they are spiritually sick. What I DO ask myself is…”how can an entire community stand by and let this happen to so many dogs…”
Kindness to animals is (and should always be) easy for us as a civil society. It is one of many important characteristics by which the spiritual health of our communities can and should be evaluated. I paint because I want to share the things that tug at my heart…the number of dogs living in distress in my own community weighs heavily on my heart…so here is my painting…what do you think?
The painting is for sale…it is up on my ETSY shop…as with all my paintings I donate a percentage of my sales to rescue groups.
Here is the picture of Turnip when he was rescued by SOAR. Here is a picture of Turnip today…
Pawffiti…important messages from the pets we love through art…
My husband and I recently made an out of state move (MN to KY)… while I couldn’t be happier that I have said goodbye to MN winters forever… moving is really a miserable process. Last week I had about enough of the unpacking of boxes and cleaning as any person could take. I decided the work could wait and I took to my paints and finished up some really fun pieces that will posted to my ETSY store throughout this week.
What do you think of this one? This is a 20×20 acrylic Pawffiti inspired by my Sparky.
This is one of my original paintings. It is pastels on velvet paper. I usually add something dimensional to my paintings. In this case it is a bad boy spike collar on the dog (see angled picture below).