Monday meditation with Otis
4:43 pm | July 17, 2017

Author: Stephanie | Category: Uncategorized | Comments: None

Everyone needs a spiritual guide.
Mine is my dog.
He has great wisdom to impart
He makes friends easily and doesn’t hold a grudge.
He enjoys simple pleasures and takes each day as it comes
Like a true zen master, he eats when he is hungry
and sleeps when he is tired
And best of all, he befriends me with an unconditional love
that human beings would do well to imitate.

Freddie finds best examples of love & kindness right by her side
2:15 pm | July 13, 2017

Author: Stephanie | Category: Uncategorized | Comments: None
Freddie wrote this note for Stephanie and Todd last year for their 31st anniversary. Today is their 32nd and on this day, one of their happiest gifts is that she is still feeling great and having fun at 14.6. Her blogs also always make us happy, please enjoy a repeat of last’s years anniversary blog.
In the face of a lot of bad world news recently, Jimmydog’s Chief Canine Officer Freddie contemplates the need for more loving kindness—and discovers some of the best examples in her own home, among her very own people, who just happen to be celebrating a big wedding anniversary.
These days, I’ve been taking a lot of my meals in bed. Don’t worry. I’m not sick. It’s just so much easier that way. Mealtime often comes when I’m otherwise busy napping upstairs in one of the variety of beds available to me and with my 13.6 year old legs, it can be hard to walk all the way down two flights of stairs to where Joey and I always had our dinner. Time for a talk with my people, Stephanie and Todd Belcher, (otherwise known as the best people ever) and we agreed that there was no reason I couldn’t have dinner in whichever bed I happen to be napping.
So, when it’s time for me to eat, Todd prepares my meal, brings it to me and we have a chat while I dine. Because it’s important for a pack to eat together, Stephanie joins us when she can. Later, when Stephanie and Todd they have their own dinner at their big people table, I’ll join them and they give me special doggie treats while I rest at their feet. (No people food for me: Stephanie says it’s not good for my tummy.)
These are the kind of people Stephanie and Todd are—so generous and loving. Some people might tell their dog to just get up and go downstairs to eat, but Stephanie and Todd know that I’m happier eating in bed so they make the accommodation. And, honestly, I think they like the new arrangement, too. It’s a nice to spend this extra time together.
It’s not just me that Stephanie and Todd treat me so well. Through his work as a custom portrait artist specializing in pets, Todd brings joy to people every day. And the two of them devote a lot of time to helping other animals—many they never even meet—through many volunteer and advocacy efforts. They have really big hearts.
I think they have so much love to give because they start with so much love between them. They are celebrating their 31st wedding anniversary this week and they set a good example by being so caring and considerate of each other. (It seems like 31 years is a very long time when it comes to people marriages so congratulations are definitely in order. Now that I think about it, I should probably get them a gift. Do you think they’d like a photo of me? Of course, they would. Who wouldn’t?) All in all, our house is a very loving place.
When my brother Joey got sick two years ago, Stephanie and Todd did everything they possibly could to keep him happy and comfortable. In his last few months with us before he crossed over the Rainbow Bridge, he really struggled to walk as his hind end and back legs gave out. All his hobbling around put pressure on his front legs, which made them hurt, and he was prone to painful irritations on his all paws. Stephanie talked with vets and spent lots of time searching for wraps, bandages, ointments, medications, nutritional supplements—anything she could find to help him. And every morning, she’d get up early to soothe his sores and wrap his legs to give him extra support. When he could no longer walk any real distance, Todd would still load him up in the car every day to take him to the park. While Todd and I explored our favorite trails, Stephanie and Joey would sit in the car or on a picnic table and just enjoy each other’s company.
Stephanie and Todd do their best to protect me from all the bad news in the world, but I’m a smart dog. I overhear them talk and catch snippets of news on the TV box. People can be terribly cruel—to animals, to strangers, to people they say they love—and it all can be very depressing and discouraging because it never seems to end.
If I start to get pulled down by the sadness of it all, I think of something I once heard Mr. Rogers say, “When I was a boy and I would see scary things in the news, my mother would say to me, ‘Look for the helpers. You will always find people who are helping.” Fortunate for me, I don’t have to look very far. My favorite loving helpers are usually right next to me, where I need them most.
Yours in dogness, Freddie
2:13 pm |

Author: Stephanie | Category: Uncategorized | Comments: None

Every once in a while dogs enter your life and change everything.

UNchain Winston
2:10 pm |

Author: Stephanie | Category: Uncategorized | Comments: None

Stephanie and Todd are very involved in local animal non-profits, their passion for animals extends far beyond painting beautiful portraits of beloved pets. Stephanie is co-founder of Unchain Winston, an organization that builds free fences for qualified families with dogs chained 24/7. For her, one of the most rewarding parts of volunteering with UNchain Winston is “meeting” animal lovers from near and far and working with all the fence sponsors. Please take a minute to read Angila and Hank’s story, UNchain Winston’s July fence sponsor. You may shed a little tear, but it’s a testament of true love.

Happy 4th of July!
3:35 pm | July 5, 2017

Author: Stephanie | Category: Uncategorized | Comments: None

Sissy, Bella and Dustin hope you all had a wonderful holiday. Their’s couldn’t have been better. No better place to be on a hot July day than chillin’ by the pool!

Big news! Freddie is semi-retiring!
7:52 pm | June 19, 2017

Author: Stephanie | Category: Uncategorized | Comments: None

Now 14.5, Jimmydog’s Chief Canine Officer Freddie couldn’t be more excited about this new phase of her life. She’s got some big news and big plans!

Dear fans, I’ve got a big announcement to make. As of this week, I’m semi-retired.

You wouldn’t know it to look at me—because I haven’t gone gray in the muzzle and I’ve worked hard to maintain my puppy figure—but I recently turned 14.5 and that makes me a senior canine citizen. Truth be told, I’ve had my AARF card for a few years. I get discounts on bones and am able to walk in a special lane with other senior pups on sidewalks and trails. (Are you familiar with AARF? The American Association of Retired Fur-people is a great group.)

But don’t worry, I’m not going to “live on a farm.” I feel great and that’s a big reason I’m cutting back on my many duties. I want to be able to enjoy myself to the fullest, and after many years of full-time work as chief canine officer at Jimmydog Pet Portraits, I’ve earned it.

Of course, I can’t fully retire. Stephanie and Todd Belcher, the best people ever, have asked me to stay on at Jimmydog and I agree that no one else is equipped to do all my important work here. But we’ve decided that I can reduce my hours, as Stephanie and Todd take on some of my responsibilities. For instance, I’m teaching them how to alert everyone in the house and office to the arrival of the brown truck. Even after all these years of me warning them to the contrary, they still think the brown truck guy brings useful things to the house and should be welcomed. I’ve got to break them of that dangerous delusion.

It’s important to stay mentally challenged so I’ll still write the occasional blog and, of course, I’ll continue to offer suggestions regarding the custom portraits that Todd paints. People say dogs are colorblind but I’ve always helped him settle on the perfect color palette for a new painting and I review all finished work as a quality control check.

Over the years while watching TV with Stephanie and Todd, I’ve seen lots of commercials for places that promise people an “active retirement lifestyle” and I like the sound of that. I don’t golf, so I’ll be spending as much time as possible on long walks, car outings and boat rides.

I’m also thinking about checking out the senior dog games. I’ve always been quite the athlete, able to run up and down the stairs and around the yard in record-setting times. And I’m an excellent tracker and hunter, though Stephanie and Todd have never let me keep my “prizes.” I think I’d do well in several events, including “Early Morning Mole Hunt” and “100-Back Yard Dash.”

I know not every dog gets to enjoy this period of life. I’m lucky to have good genes from my canine parents and the best of care all my life from Stephanie and Todd. At 14.5, I have a pretty good idea of what it takes to live a healthy senior dog life. Here’s what I’ve learned is important:

* Daily exercise. I attribute my longevity—and my attractive figure—to daily walks. Now that I’m older, I make some modifications, like walking earlier in the morning or later in the evening, but I still walk every day—rain, shine, snow or ice. Vary your routine to keep things interesting: I like to visit different parks in my area.

* Regular vet visits. My people take me every few months for something called “senior wellness visits.” The visits are quick but still full of indignities: They weigh me, check my temperature (I can’t even bring myself to tell you how they do that!) and then draw blood with a big needle (I maintain a brave face but ouch!). To make it more palatable, I focus on the car ride there and back (always great fun!) and the walk Todd takes me on afterward for being such a good girl. (Remember: A positive mental attitude is important at any age.) Lately, Todd’s also been taking me to a place for cold laser therapy on my hips. I like that place better—no poking and prodding and it only takes a few minutes. Other dogs I know get massages or something called acupuncture.

* Good nutrition, plus medication as needed. Our dietary needs change as we age and Stephanie does an excellent job of adjusting my diet to keep me feeling my best, whether that means adding a little slippery elm (whatever that is!) and yogurt to my dinner to keep my digestive track healthy or giving me anti-inflammatories for a touch of arthritis.

* Adaptations. People seem to love hardwood floors but dogs, especially senior dogs, aren’t big fans. Stephanie and Todd have put down more rugs to keep me from sliding around in an undignified (and dangerous) manner, which I appreciate. You might need your people to get you a softer bed or buy a ramp for the car. My pal Clooney, also an older boy, asked his person to add a water bowl upstairs so he could avoid making so many trips down to the kitchen. His person also lowered her bed so he could get on and off more easily. Dog friends: Tell your people what you need. They’ll be happy to accommodate you.

* Hobbies. As I mentioned above, I’m an avid hunter and a lifelong boater. Other dogs enjoy swimming or playing fetch. Having a hobby keeps you mentally and physically fit. Find something you love to do and it will keep you young at every age!

Now, if you’ll excuse me. I have a walk to take.

Yours in dogness,


Heartfelt thanks
3:48 pm | June 13, 2017

Author: Stephanie | Category: Uncategorized | Comments: None

Thank you Chad Tucker for this lovely note and adorable photo of Carson Perry holding her Otis close to her heart once again. The appreciation you have for this portrait means more to us than we could ever express in words. We know Jimmy and Joey are taking good care of Otis at the bridge and you are correct, they are never far from you or have you out of their sight.

“Todd, I’m at a lost of words. Thank you for the beautiful portrait of Otis. You are so talented! The detail is amazing. We received it yesterday and the many blessings it has already brought my family are beautiful. When I brought it home Carson Parry immediately said ‘my Otis.’ It brought smiles to her and happy tears to us. In her 3 year old comprehension she thinks dog heaven is right around the corner and Otis isn’t that far away. Your gift reminded us that Otis really isn’t that far and that people with big hearts still care. We have the perfect place for the portrait and are so looking forward to having it framed. We’d love to meet you one day soon to say thank you in person.

For now, thank you for sharing your talent and loving on my family.

Best always,
Chad and the girls”

Remembering Otis
3:47 pm |

Author: Stephanie | Category: Uncategorized | Comments: None

We’ve been long time fans of Chad Tucker of our local MyFox8 news. He’s a great reporter and last year we found out what a huge animal lover he is and that there was one very special dog in his life named Otis.We read on Facebook about Otis and the impact he had on his life, and we were heartbroken as he recounted last June that final, beautiful weekend with him.
What a life Chad and his family gave Otis and what powerful gifts he gave them in return. The stories and photos Chad shared of Otis, inspired Todd to paint this portrait and send it as a surprise to Chad and his family. On this the first anniversary of Otis’s journey to the bridge, we celebrate his life and the love he shared with his family.

Tongue Out Tuesday
3:23 pm | June 6, 2017

Author: Stephanie | Category: Uncategorized | Comments: None

Sweet Audrey thinks every day is Tongue Out Tuesday!

Happy Throwback Thursday!
3:17 pm | June 1, 2017

Author: Stephanie | Category: Uncategorized | Comments: None

This happy pup is Archie, one of Todd’s first pet portraits after opening Jimmydog Design Group. The recipients were so happy with their painting, the next year they commissioned 3 more portraits of Archie making him one of Todd’s most painted subjects.

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Winston-Salem, North Carolina 27106-5530
Office: 336-201-7475  Cell: 336-978-3683