The story behind the dog in the paintings

Scruffy, relaxing at home after a day at the gallery.

Scruffy, the apple of my eye, used to be a stray dog. He arrived at the door of my gallery, many moons ago, scrawny and neglected.

He was so terrified and, clearly, mistreated that he would not allow me to touch him. On the day we met I paced a piece of meat on the outside paving and I withdrew in order for him to fetch it. I watched him grab the morsel and take it across the road from the gallery where he eagerly devoured it.

It took much time to win Scruffy’s trust. It was only after a week, or two, that he would accept some food directly from my hand. I was still did not have the privilege to touch him, though.

Soon after, in the mornings, I would find him outside the gallery waiting for me to open shop. He would look at me with sad eyes, in the afternoons, when it was closing time and I had to leave for home. After yet more time he allowed me to touch the side of his face while using my other hand to feed him. The next reward in the process of winning his trust was that I had permission to touch his neck and, eventually, he trusted me enough to let me shower him with loving pats all over his body.

Our friendship developed to the point where I could put him in my car to take him home with me where he has now been living for over four years. He has since become a star on social media and even has fans abroad. I mainly paint landscapes and, lately, Scruffy features in each of my paintings: either herding sheep or cattle, running into the sea to assist fishermen or chasing chickens.

Scruffy has a lovely nature. He has found himself. His absolute gratitude for his new life is expressed daily in a loving glance my way or a sloppy lick in my face.

– At Botha

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