These Talented Dog Painters—Yes, You Read That Right!—Donate Their Artwork to Help Pets With Cancer

This isn't a pigment of your imagination! The Tripawd Foundation hosts a unique online auction featuring great art worthy of all the treats!

Ralphie, a white dog, with paintbrush in his mouth and standing next to an easel that holds his 2022 auction painting “Summer By the Bay "
Photo: Courtest of Jaclin Dunne / justplainralphie / Instagram

Our trusty canines have served as artistic inspiration for centuries. From Edouard Manet's classic doe-eyed Cavalier King Charles spaniel (simply titled "A King Charles Spaniel") to Johanne Mangi's more recent fine art dog portraits (this one of a flat-coated retriever is so sweet!) humans have dominated the art world with dogs as their muses.

But beginning May 27, some pretty talented pup painters will have their brushwork recognized in a special online auction to support the Tripawds Foundation. This Livingston, Texas, nonprofit serves "three-legged animals and their people" by providing animal amputee education, information, financial assistance, and other resources.

Rene Agredano is the organization's co-founder. She tells Daily Paws that the Tripawds global web community exists to aid pet parents facing amputation for their beloved animals. "Whether they care for a cat, dog, rabbit, domestic rat, or any other four-legged creature who is about to face limb loss, our members provide emotional support to help people around the world cope," she says. "Together, we show them that three- (and two-!) legged animals can do amazing things if given the chance."

Paws for a Cause

Kaiserin, a German shepherd, lost her back right leg to cancer in 2018. However, her pet parent, Natasha Baguley, didn't think this should hold her back. She taught Kaiserin various tricks—one of which was learning how to paint—and entered her in trick dog competitions. But the pup had a flair for the visual medium.

"We started selling her artwork to raise money for the Tripawds Foundation at the end of 2019 and it was a big hit," Baguley says. "After Kaiserin passed in 2020, I really wanted the project to continue in her memory."

Baguley's now the event organizer for the Tripawds Charity Painting Dogs Auction. In 2021, 16 pooch paintings raised more than $3,000 for the foundation. This year's auction features 20 pieces of art from all over the world, and proceeds benefit the Kaiserin Cancer Care Package program, which provides monthly care bundles to amputee pets battling cancer.

Contributing artists include:

  • Margaux, a Weimaraner who's also part of the 'Sniff-4-Life' training program to detect cancer in saliva samples of other dogs.
  • Sapphire, a standard poodle lovingly referred to as 'Pawcasso.'
  • Ralphie, shown above, is an Old English Sheepdog who's the first deaf grand champion trick dog.
  • Peekaboo, a blind Coton de Tulear.
  • Rookie, a shepherd who had a back leg amputated just after birth.

"I was especially happy to add these special dogs to our team this year because it goes back to the original goal of showing how differently abled dogs can still do amazing things," Baguley says.

Carrying on the family tradition in the 2022 auction are Baguley's two adorable shepherds: Schultz, Kaiserin's brother, and Wilhelmina, Kaiserin's great-niece.

Creativity Flows from Snout to Canvas

While human patrons supply the materials, such as paints, stretched canvas, and canvas board, each Tripawds auction piece is an original work of dog art, created by the pups with various brushes—might be a paintbrush, dish scrubber, or toilet wand, but hey, whatever works to release the inner muse!

Probably considered more abstract contemporary or Impressionist, much of the artwork features fanciful names, too, such as a composition of mostly brown hues titled "Once There Was Grass But I Dug A Hole and Made It Better" or a pastel wash known as "Puppy Breath."

As you might expect, training treats help these expressive pups manifest inspiration into reality. "Schultz paints for little pieces of chicken. I've noticed that the better the treat quality, the more enthusiastic the artist," Baguley says. "And there's no doubt he loves to paint—he runs every day to the painting area just waiting to begin!"

The Tripawds Charity Painting Dogs Auction is live online from May 27 through June 5. On the site, you'll find last year's entries and what will soon be on this year's auction block. Agredano gives full credit to passionate Tripawd community members like Baguley and others for putting the "fun" in this fundraiser with an important message.

"When a furry family member loses a leg, it's always harder on the people than it is on the pets. That's why the Tripawds community exists, to be there for them," Agredano says. "[Our community] shows the world there's life after amputation for dogs, cats, and other critters."

But we had to ask: Why isn't catistry part of the auction exhibit? "Well, cats don't seem to have the same desire to please their owners as dogs. I am sure you could teach one [to paint] but it would likely be a lot harder," Baguley adds. "I would certainly give it a try if I had a cat!"

Through the wonder of the interwebs, we discovered people making an attempt to paint with cats. But will kitties hold a brush? If properly motivated? Who knows?

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