When I was exhibiting at the Plantation Wildlife Arts Festival in Thomasville, last November, my friend Sallie asked me to paint a portrait of her daughter Kate’s Lab and Border Terriers for Christmas. There wasn’t much time, so I arranged with Kate’s husband Sam to meet him at the house so we could pose the dogs. 

We both were thinking the same thing: How are we going to successfully get four dogs to pose together – especially when three of them are Border Terriers? It would be like herding cats. I rushed over to the house from the show and Sam from the Tallahassee airport and we got there at exactly the same time. We got into the house, with the dogs anxious to get outside. My idea was to pose them on the front steps. It would give me the right angle and feel, but I thought – this is going to be a challenge.

Sam opened the door and all four dogs immediately and promptly went out and each positioned themself perfectly on the steps as if I’d paid them top dog biscuits to do so. With only my cell phone, I quickly got off about 20 pictures and was able to compose the painting. The top dog on the left was a challenge though. I had the sketch but it wasn’t transferring right to the final. So I did what worked in the past – I just painted her in. 

I then shipped the painting to arrive in time, but the shipper who was a temp and didn’t know Sallie’s driveway delivered it to another house down the road. On Christmas Eve I was on the phone trying to locate the painting and describe to someone in the Philippines where Sallie’s unmarked driveway was on a plantation in South Georgia. Finally, I go the local number and a guy who had been there several times to locate the painting and get it there on time. 

Posing the dogs: Easy. Shipping the painting: Like herding cats.