The dog is a man’s best friend. We’ve heard that saying so many times that we don’t even think about why it’s true. What is it about dogs that make them such great companions?
Over the years, I have been commissioned to do many pet portraits. Every single one of them was of a dog, by the way.
Sorry, cat lovers. I’m sure there are a lot of you out there, but it seems that across the board, dogs win this contest, hands down.
( If any of you cat lovers would like to tip the scale onto your side, you can always commission me to do a portrait of your cat for you… )
Oh, and by the way, I like cats too. 😎
Here’s 3 reasons why dogs make great companions, and I think that why, as a portrait artist, I’m often asked to draw or paint them.
1. They are smart
Without question, dogs are extremely intelligent creatures. The things they can learn are amazing.
I believe God created dogs specifically for the purposes that we see them being utilized in today–friend, house protector, police work, assisting the disabled, therapy, hunting partners, even carrying things up in the frozen North.
This wasn’t just the product of chance or evolution. Their brains are wired to learn.
“Close to Chance,” a pet portrait of a Blue Merle, 16 x 20, colored pencil on paper, by artist Matt Philleo
2. They are accepting
One of the reasons why many feel so close to their dogs, is that these animals become very attached to their owners. They show affection primarily to one person–usually the one that brought them home the first time.
I remember my mom had a little Chihuahua/ Terrier named “Candy.” When my mom left the house, Candy would be sad, distraught. Eagerly, she would wait for mom to return home. Any time a car would slow down when passing by our house, Candy would get excited and go by the door, thinking any moment, it could be my mom.
When mom actually returned, you couldn’t contain the excitement! She would be jumping up and down, her little nails click-clacking on the floor, even whimpering little sounds of delight at the fact that her beloved owner was finally home again.
Somehow this makes me think of Jesus. Jesus died on the cross for our sins, rose again, and is in heaven now, “away for a time.” But He will return and will live here on earth forever!
As a Christian, how eagerly am I waiting for the return of my Lord? How excited am I at the possibility that He could return at any moment? I have to say, our old dog Candy has me beat in that regard!
3. They are fiercely loyal
This kind of goes hand-in-hand with the previous point about how dogs will often become attached to one person in the household. They stand up for and protect that person.
As some of you already know, I used to work for FilterQueen several years ago as vacuum/filtration service technician. I would be on the road all day long, traveling to customers’ homes to service their machines. I had a fear of dogs before taking the job, but the job cured that in a hurry!
I went to many country homes where the dogs roamed free. I learned quickly that you don’t approach a dog on his turf. You open your car door and wait for him to come to you and sniff you and make sure you’re OK.
One time, a bunch of mastiffs came out to greet me. These dogs have the kind of jaws and teeth that make you think of a bear trap. They sniffed me, jumped on me a little, and seemed really friendly. Once inside the home, the owner told me matter-of-factly, “They liked you. If they thought you were bad, they probably would have attacked you.”
“I’m glad they liked me,” I said.
On a different occasion, I went to a country home where the dog would not come out to see me. He just stayed on the porch and barked. Nevertheless, I had to knock on the door, so I prayed a quick prayer and started approaching.
The dog growled.
I said, “Dog, it’s either you…or me!” I walked up the steps and the dog whimpered and ran under the porch.
“I guess it was you.” I thanked God and went up to knock on the door. I had to give the dog credit, though, for holding his ground as long as he did!
And now, about these drawings…
I did these series of portraits for a local client. She’s a former dog trainer and now has a kennel. I met her at the Falling Leaves Art Studio Tour that I’m a part of every year.
After a lot of back and forth discussion about how to get some good photos of her dogs to send me, I finally traveled out to her house for a photo shoot. She had two dogs, a beautiful Blue Merle, and a black lab.
“Chance” a portrait of a Blue Merle, 16 x 20 colored pencil on paper by portrait artist Matt Philleo
It was a rainy day, and I was thinking, “how will I get any decent photos now?” We ended up going under the giant eaves of her garage, large enough to completely shelter us from the rain. But still, there was the problem of getting the excitable dogs to hold still.
My client knew what to do.
“Spider,” a portrait of a black lab, 16 x 20, colored pencil on paper
She stood behind me, holding a doggie treat just over my head. The dogs fixed their attention on the treat, and I snapped a series of photos! With those excellent photos, I was able to capture enough detail to do two 16 x 20 colored pencil drawings, and an 8 x 10 closeup.
When I was finished, the client loved the drawings, especially the one of the Blue Merle. The black lab is older and may not be around too much longer. So doing these drawings commemorate two dogs, two companions that are very important to my client, and it brings her great encouragement to have these portraits in her home, where she can see them always!
Share Your Thoughts!
If you have any comments or questions about this post, please leave me your feedback below! I will personally get back to you. Can you help me spread the word? Please share this post with your family and friends by using the social media links on the left side or below. Thank you!
"I have inscribed you on the palm of my hands."
"Inscribed," Pencil on Paper, by Matt Philleo
One day, when I was discouraged I read a verse in the Bible, in Isaiah, 49:15-16, where it says, "Can a woman forget her nursing child And have no compassion on the son of her womb? Even these may forget, but I will not forget you. Behold, I have inscribed you on the palm of my hands." This verse brought such encouragement, that I created this original work of art to share the incredible love of God with others, including you!
Get a free 8 x 10 copy of this drawing that you can use to print, share, or as wallpaper!