Have you heard about Piper Stone yet? She’s a special needs dog making a difference…with paint! We asked her Mom, abstract artist Jessica Stone to tell us about Piper. We hope you’ll be as inspired by Piper and her cause as we are!
Piper (AKA the one-eyed painting bulldog, chunky monkey, grumpy gorilla, and love nugget) is an example of how remarkable rescue, special needs and adult dogs can be. Piper went from being an unwanted and unappreciated dog to an artist who puts smiles on faces worldwide and helps other rescue dogs nationwide through her art and personality. She was named one of the fifteen most influential dogs of 2012 by MSN. Piper is a reminder that all of us have the ability to inspire, create and be good at something when given a chance, love and encouragement.
People often ask how I trained Piper to become a painter, but I never trained her. It was all Piper. Believe it or not, she gave me the idea to put a paintbrush in her mouth. The only thing I trained her to do is to let go of the brush when I say, “Leave it,” but sometimes she doesn’t listen. I discovered Piper’s talent through my paintings and time in the studio. She is somewhat handicapped, or we like to say handicapable, because of a limp, hip dysplasia and arthritis. She can barely walk a block. The only thing she runs for is food. After six weeks of Piper excitedly running (wobbling) into the studio every time I painted, I realized something fantastic was happening in her eyes and wondered if she had a desire to paint. Piper was content to stay and watch me paint for hours. She even seemed to enjoy it more when I played music. All I had to do was shake up a can of paint, rustle paper or clang palette knives and she would appear. I told my husband, Jeff, that I thought Piper wanted to paint and I was going to the art store to find non-toxic paints for her. Of course, Jeff and the art store employees thought I was a little nuts.
Well, Piper’s first attempt and painting “Introduction” was a success! Piper didn’t run away with the brush. She didn’t splatter paint everywhere. She just stayed in one place and worked her magic, while I held paper in front of her. Piper’s technique is very basic and seems instinctual. Maybe Piper is mimicking me? I don’t know what drives her. All I know is that she truly enjoys painting and it’s a great way for us to bond. Piper’s paintings have reached as far as South Africa and Australia. We donate a portion of her sales to San Antonio Bulldog Rescue and various products to other rescues’ auctions and fundraisers. Before Piper and her painting career, we couldn’t afford to make donations. This unloved and rejected, one-eyed dog blossomed into a beautiful role model who touches hearts and helps others just from a few people believing in her.
Piper’s journey to becoming the one-eyed bulldog who paints to make a difference took 8 difficult years. When a man surrendered Piper to Teresa of San Antonio Bulldog Rescue, he claimed to be afraid of Piper. Piper was grumpy, growled a lot and would charge at you if you raised your voice or startled her. But who could blame her! She was missing an eye, had a limp, bad skin infection, and wasn’t being treated for severe pain from terrible hip issues and arthritis.
Piper showed signs of abuse and seemed like she never knew love and affection. Despite Piper’s grumpiness, Teresa (now known as Mother Teresa and Mother T) had a feeling Piper was a lovable dog. She fell in love with Piper and spent 3 months gaining Piper’s trust and learning her quirks. Piper’s big personality won Mother Teresa over with her silly wiggle dances, funny noises, demands for attention, and adorably squishy face. Under Piper’s spell, Teresa would take her for car rides to Sonic where they would share a hot dog. To this day, Piper thinks car rides are the most amazing thing and I’m certain it’s because she thinks she’s going to Sonic for a hot dog! Even though Teresa loved Piper dearly and saw how darling Piper was, she was concerned no one would adopt a one-eyed grumpy dog who required a lot of patience and understanding. So Mother T and Piper continued their companionship and trips to Sonic.
Then, one day, an adoption application came in from an applicant Teresa likes to call “the crazy artist,” which she means in a loving and sincere way. The crazy artist and her husband hoped for a special needs dog requiring extra patience. Teresa called me immediately and said that she had a dog who she thought would be perfect for us. Teresa explained how Piccadilly Lily (now Piper Lily Stone) had one eye, bad hip dysplasia, a limp, and can be grumpy. She mentioned Piper was also sweet, precious and would be a wonderful dog with patient parents. And, I thought – Great! We’ll take her! That same day, Jeff, our beloved rescue Pit Bull Roxie, and I drove from Austin to San Antonio to meet Piper. We fell in love with her at first sight!
Piper’s cause is not only to raise money and awareness for rescues, but also to show children and adults that different is beautiful and special needs beings are remarkable. We hope to demonstrate this and continue Piper’s cause by publishing a series of books. Paws crossed!
See more of Piper by visiting her website at www.piperstoneartwork.com and follow this remarkable pup on Facebook! Original paintings, prints and gifts are available for purchase (with proceeds going to charity!) in Piper’s Etsy store.
Jessica Anne Stone is an abstract painter and published photographer living in Austin, Texas. Piper’s fans know her as “Piper’s Sidekick” but if she weren’t an artist, Piper probably wouldn’t be either! Check out her talent at www.jessicastoneartwork.com or follow her on Facebook.
Photos courtesy of Jessica Stone.