The company knows the way to a pet lover’s heart.

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Square painted portrait of retriever in birthday hat
Credit: Courtesy of Chewy

Chewy boxes full of essential pet products may regularly appear on your doorstep, but imagine opening a box to find a custom painting that looks exactly like your beloved furry friend. Something we all need, right? 

Chewy has continued sending more than 1,000 free paintings to customers every single week, even during the pandemic. The company hopes the personal touch will help them stand out and win customers for life despite the difficult times. Based on the vibrant social media response, Chewy's strategy appears to be working. 

After receiving an oil painting of her cat, Stink, Danielle Schwartz prominently displayed the portrait in her home. "I just want to buy everything from them," cat owner Danielle Schwartz told the Associated Press. "They're a big company. I was shocked that they did something so personal," she said.

Unfortunately there's no way to commission a portrait through Chewy. According to the company's Twitter replies to requests for pet portraits, "Pet portraits are sent out at random to show our Chewy family some appreciation." 

The company typically sends them out to customers who have pet photos on their Chewy account or have shared one with a customer service agent.

The random nature of the initiative has left some customers confused—some customers send the mystery portraits back. However, many customers immediately document their new pet portrait on social media resulting in free advertising for Chewy.

The cost of making and sending the portraits is unknown. Chewy has worked with hundreds of artists around the country, emailing them photos of their subjects.

Josh Lawson is just one of the artists involved. He paints 20-50 portraits a week and has painted snakes, goats, and even bison. It can take him over two hours to complete a single portrait. Fluffy kittens are especially difficult because of the extra attention required to perfectly capture their poofiness. "I want to make them look real," Lawson told the AP.

Artists hand painting cat portraits on easel
Credit: Courtesy of Chewy
Four stacks of various painted pet portraits
Credit: Courtesy of Chewy
Two stacks of painted pet portraits, featuring two small dogs
Credit: Courtesy of Chewy

Accuracy is a priority for Chewy. The company says it rejects artwork that doesn't look enough like the pet or sends it back to be reworked.

Customer Annesley Clark was surprised by how much the free painting looked like her pit bull mix, Willow. "I was beside myself," she told the AP. "It's her exactly."

Chewy has a history of positively interacting with customers. Before leaving the company in 2018, co-founder Ryan Cohen helped develop Chewy's unique customer appreciation techniques. The company sends new customers handwritten notes and all shoppers get snail-mail holiday cards. It even sends flowers to customers whose pets have died.