When writing about people and places and dogs, my imagination supplies a vivid image of each that seems to magically transform them from bare words on a page to something akin to a living, breathing character. Some writers–and readers, too–have suggested it’s a bit like having a movie play in your mind while you’re immersed in a book. And when you come across something that reminds you of stories and characters you’ve enjoyed, the pleasure continues.
That happened to me when I saw the dog portraits created by the artist J.R. Cotner featured in his online store. Having worked as a publicist for several artists in the past, I can appreciate the time, talent, and skill involved to create original designs of any kind, and even more skill required to transform that art into a digital format.
Of the dozen-plus the artist has created so far, I’ve already purchased several, including the three included in this post!
This was the first mug I saw in The Canine Collection. I immediately thought of Sam, the young yellow Lab owned by my protagonist Maggie Porter in the Waterside Kennels mystery series. Sam is intelligent, alert, and a loyal companion–all hallmarks of the Labrador Retriever breed.
In the series, Sam is officially registered with the American Kennel Club as Samson’s Blue Delight. He’s adventurous and a fast learner who likes to be challenged, and has the potential to excel in tracking, search and rescue, and other service-related scenarios. You’ll see Sam in multiple roles as the series progresses.
The Cocker Spaniel featured on this mug looks like a younger version of Sweet Pea. She’s known officially in the AKC world as Champion Penelope’s Yorkshire Windsong and has an impressive collection of awards and certification to her credit. Long retired from competition, Sweet Pea has reached the age where she prefers napping and slow-paced interactions to energetic rambles.
As her eyesight and hearing slowly decline, she’s content to amble through the days, greeting customers and helping Maggie demonstrate obedience commands or work with young pups in training. And despite her age, Sweet Pea still has the ability to suprise us all, as we’ll see in the next book in the series.
The artwork on this mug reminded of Mr. B, the Beagle Maggie had adopted shortly before moving to Eagle Cove and launching the new Waterside Kennels. As the first book in the series opens, Mr. B is is still recuperating from a serious injury that ended his K-9 career. Despite Maggie’s best efforts, he shows no interest in his new surroundings, leading Maggie to wonder if she’d done the right thing adopting the Beagle.
As her veterinarian says: “Look at it from the dog’s point of view—he’s lost everything he’s ever known. That can haunt you for a long time.” As the story evolves, though, Mr. B’s intelligence and natural resilience proves surprising to all involved.
Whether the dogs in your own life are real or fictional, I hope these dog portraits in The Canine Collection bring you pleasure and happy memories. If, like me, you enjoy collecting artwork that celebrates dogs, I encourage you to visit cotner-artworks.com and add something to your own collection, or find the just-right gift for family or friend.
By the way, J.R. is more than an artist; he’s also a published author and has written poetry, short stories, and a Celtic mystery novel. Check out his blog jackronaldcotner.com for more information.
And thanks for revisiting the dogs of Waterside Kennels with me!