A Drastic Contrast: Puppy Mills vs Dog Show

Last week my daughter attended HAWS Day Camp.  During camp, they had a presentation about puppy mills.

This past weekend we attended the Waukesha Kennel Club Summer Splash event.

Wow, talk about two completely opposite ends of the spectrum.  As everyone knows, I just love animals. Love how they were created, how they help us as service dogs and K9 dogs, the unconditional love they give – even after being abandoned or abused – just love them. At the Summer Splash event, one lady stopped over with her adorable sheepdog.  I immediately said, “I love your dog!”  Her instant response?  An enthusiastic, “Me, too!!”  And that right there is the difference.

Also at the show, we saw many, many attendees with their show dogs in small metal crates, often stacked three high on a cart.  This was for outside transportation ONLY; they did not live in these crates. My daughter commented that those metal crates “looked like the ones in the puppy mills.” Again, what a difference – one is for security, safety and yes, to keep them nice to show. The other?  These tiny metal crates are their HOMES!  Not for an hour or so, but their ENTIRE LIVES.

I honestly can’t imagine what these dogs go through. Can you imagine living your entire life in a metal coffin?  That’s about how much room puppy mill dogs have. No medical treatment, no decent food, no sunshine, no toys. The worst part?  No love. No caring touch. Ever.  When the dogs can no longer breed, they are abandoned or killed. But! There are a few success stories (keep reading for one!)

According to HSUS, there are 10,000 puppy mills currently active in the United States. 194,000+ dogs are kept solely for breeding, and 2 million puppy mill puppies are sold each year!  So, what can we do?  How can we help? 

  1. Kiss your dog, cat, lizard, hamster, rabbit – whatever pet you have.
  2. Adopt from reputable shelters. Pet Finder’s web site can help you locate rescues in your area. 
  3. Speak out! Tell friends, family and even share on social network the dangers of puppy mills. Education and awareness are key! Use #StopPuppyMills in your posts.
  4. Support organizations that fight against puppy mills. Support can be in the form of monetary donations, volunteering your time, writing letters and/or helping to organize events.

B.B.’s Success Story 

B.B. had never seen sunlight. Living in a North Carolina puppy mill, in a tiny, rusty cage in the basement, she was forced to have litter after litter. When the HSUS team found her, her eyes were practically crusted shut; her paws were matted with filth. Thanks to supporters like you, she was rescued (along with nearly 150 other dogs) and placed in a loving home.  Read B.B.’s full story here.

Beautiful Ways to Memorialize a Beloved Pet

Losing a furry companion is awful. That unconditional love, joyful spirit, and just company is so important!  No one can quite sum up the relationship between animal and human – truly it is a very special, unique bond.

 A lot of my commissions come from grieving pet parents who want a special way to remember their beloved companion. A piece of original art is a great way to keep their spirit foremost in your surroundings. But every relationship is unique, and maybe a painting doesn’t quite fit your relationship. Here are a few great ideas to celebrate the life and times of our four-legged friends.

  • Create a Memorial Album.  There are many ways to do this, digitally or with actual photos. One photo really doesn’t tell the story, but their spirit can be captured in an album. Just selecting the photos will bring back memories of the best times you shared. Go back to puppy pictures, silly pictures and duo selfies on your phone, the random everyday photos you may have. Creating captions and adding descriptions will weave the story you can share with your family and friends.
  • Contributions. Maybe you would like to “pay it forward,” and make a charitable contribution in your pet’s name.  Did they love specific people or kids? Did you adopt from a shelter? Did they suffer from a specific ailment?  Did they love your vet?  A contribution can be something general or specific, ranging from a donation to the Animal Humane Society or research for canine/feline cancer.
  • Plant New Life. It may be the actual spot where they are buried, or a symbolic area in your yard, select a plant or tree in their honor.  Mark it with a custom plaque, and this becomes a reminder of that wonderful companion.
  • Commissioned Art. We return to the piece of original art. You furry companion was a permanent fixture in your home.  A unique, custom piece of art based on a photo is a way to bring a smile of remembrance every day.  

#agapeartcreations #pet memorial #dog #cat

Thoughts on Memorial Day & service dogs

It’s Memorial Day weekend – Monday is a day to remember those who have died in active military service. As we remember all those who gave the ultimate sacrifice for our freedom, I can’t help but think of the vets who live with the horrors they have seen. That makes it practically impossible to transition to “regular” life again.  Pets – especially dogs – can change lives for anyone with PTSD.  I’m
amazed with what animals can do for others!

Here’s an excerpt of a story from companionsforheroes.org:

I was startled awake, only to find the lights already on. My service dog—my partner, my lifeline, my friend—nudged my arm and handed me a cold bottle of water. I hugged the cool container to my chest, rocking slightly, as she jumped into bed with me and laid across my legs. Abandoning the water, I wrapped my arms around her as her soothing weight began to settle my nerves. She gently licked my cheeks and I whispered into her fur, “Thanks for being there.” The nightmare was long gone so we settled back down to sleep. Read more

Service dogs help reduce serious mental breakdowns, suicidal thoughts, medical/psychiatric costs, and the risk of violence, alcoholism, drug use and depression.  (companionsforheroes.org)

  • With the help of a service dog veterans:
    Report feeling safe, protected and loved
    unconditionally.
  • Often return to work or go to college.
  • Are more able to care for their families.

There are many ways to help these programs – below is just a short list of
groups who work with veterans and service dogs – note that these are just from
my research, I do not receive any compensation for sharing these.

So, on this Memorial Day, remember those who have given their lives for their country. Thank a vet who struggles everyday. And remember just how amazing animals are in all of our lives!

Why do I paint pets?

I love animals. Pretty much all kinds – and especially baby animals! I have always found it so amazing that we can be in our home, alone, yet have four-legged furry creatures walking around.  I talk to my cats – all of the time!  🙂  And yes, they answer me.  I don’t speak cat, so I can’t tell you for sure what they are saying, but I choose to believe it’s all very positive about what a great cat mom I am.

So, why PAINT pets? Because they are an amazing part of our lives!  Companion animals are incredible. Working companion animals are awe-inspiring. K9 dogs literally are life savers, as are many service dogs/animals. But what brings it all together?  The relationship. That’s it – the bond we have with these God-given furry creatures.

We don’t speak the same language. We don’t eat the same food (usually!).  We don’t have the same behaviors.  Yet we love unconditionally. Even mistreated animals become beloved companions when treated with love. And I love portraying that relationship, that bond, through paint. Photos are great but there’s just something about that special picture you want immortalized in paint.  The expression, the light in their eyes – I love watching it come to life!