Jaclyn Gartner was looking through pictures of puppies at shelters when she noticed a puppy named Van Gogh with one ear. He was discovered injured, cowering behind a drainage pipe, with scratches and scrapes all over him. His left ear had been torn off in the vicious world of dog fighting.

He was attempting to get adopted from a shelter in North Carolina.



“He’d had an absolutely horrific life, and yet he looked happy, and I was told he got along well with people,” said Gartner, founder of the Happily Furever After Rescue in Bethel, Conn., which takes in pets at risk of being put down in shelters. “His ear had to be surgically removed, but Van Gogh was resilient, even after all he’d been through.”

“I had to rescue him,” she added.



In June, the charity Pilots N Paws flew Van Gogh to her home in Connecticut thanks to arrangements made by Gartner. She advertised that she had a loving, one-eared dog in need of a home on Facebook, Petfinder, and Rescue Me, but the 7-year-old boxer pit bull mix received no takers.

“Not a single application came in,” she said, explaining that he was staying with various foster families. “I couldn’t believe it. He was the cutest dog ever.”



After four months of being a part of her rescue, she saw that Van Gogh only had one ear and had an idea of how to make him more desirable.

“Why not Van Gogh? I’d seen TikTok videos of other dogs making paintings.”, claimed Gartner. He undoubtedly has the name and ear for it.



She then applied small dots of vivid paint in various sizes to an 8 by 10-inch canvas, wrapped it in plastic wrap, and sprinkled peanut butter on top.

Van Gogh approached his task with the enthusiasm of a true peanut butter enthusiast.



Van Gogh licked the paint into dramatic streaks, and five minutes later, Gartner pulled the canvas away after deciding the painting was finished (and that Van Gogh had consumed enough peanut butter). It was flawless.

As the two painters both grew prolific, Gartner believed he honorably portrayed Vincent van Gogh, the renowned post-Impressionist painter who produced “The Starry Night” and “Sunflowers.”



“He has a fast and creative tongue,” Gartner said. “It takes more time for us to get the canvas ready for him than it does for Van Gogh to lick off the peanut butter and smear the paint around.”

One of the dog’s canvasses was dabbed with blue and yellow paint to re-create Vincent van Gogh’s “The Starry Night.”


“We did the art over a week, then I invited people to come and meet him at an outdoor art gallery event,” she said. “I had sparkling cider and pastries and I even set up little stands for the paintings.”

She was disappointed when only two people showed up at the event on Oct. 23. One of them was Jennifer Balbes of Monroe, Conn., who follows Gartner on social media.



“He came up and sniffed my face and we were fast friends. He’s an incredibly sweet dog,” said Balbes, 56.

She went home with a $40 Van Gogh painting titled “Clouds.”


Gartner was crushed that Van Gogh’s first art show was a bust, but decided not to give up. She took action the following day.

“I put out a post on Facebook that I felt bad only two people showed up, and I said the rest of the art was still available,” she said.



Suddenly, everyone wanted it.

“The paintings sold out in two minutes,” she said, collecting about $1,000 for her animal rescue.
Van Gogh continued to complete painting after painting, and in mid-November, Gartner held an online auction. A dozen of the dog’s paintings sold, raising an additional $2,000 for the rescue, which she started in 2020. Almost everyone paid more than the asking price for each painting, she said.

More significantly, according to Gartner, one of her foster volunteers adopted Van Gogh on the final day of the auction.



Gartner was astounded by how his colorful artwork won hearts online.

She expressed amazement at the rapid surge in demand for Van Gogh’s artwork following the collapse of his gallery exhibition.


“I never in a million years thought I’d see a dog become popular for his paintings,” she said. “It’s really changed my life and his.”

She said the paintings have brought a lot of exposure to her small rescue, which has about 20 volunteers.


“Because of the attention from Van Gogh’s story, we’ve now had other dogs find homes,” she said.

The person who adopted Van Gogh is one of her foster volunteers, Jessica Starowitz. The adoption was made official on the last day of the auction, Nov. 21, Gartner said.



Starowitz had taken over watching Van Gogh from another foster family and decided that she couldn’t let him go, she said.

“As soon as I saw him, I knew he’d be a foster fail,” she said. “He was romping around and licking everyone and playing tug of war. My whole family fell in love with him.”


In the event that Gartner decides to host additional fundraisers for her foundation, Starowitz stated that she intends to keep Van Gogh stocked with paint and peanut butter. She also created a page on Instagram for her skilled new relative.

She said, “Van Gogh is loved by all, and he loves people. He can tell when it’s time to paint if he sees a Ziploc bag and a jar of peanut butter. But at the moment, he is dozing off in my office.”


Source: The Washington Post

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