Portrait of a Pet’s Love

By on November 12, 2008 with 0 Comments By Wayne Pacelle

All animals have a story to tell and perhaps no one can tell their story more boldly than Ron Burns. Bursting with a kaleidoscope of colors, Ron’s animal portraits have helped put a face to abandoned animals, and heroic ones as well.

A great friend of The HSUS and of companion animals, Ron most recently created a popular Prize, Not Fighter T-shirt to support our anti-dogfighting efforts. He’s also generously donated his original work to raise funds for The HSUS, lent us his portraits to use in ads and a special line of HSUS postage stamps, and, for our smallest supporters, penned a special dog coloring page.

Here, in a moving blog exclusive, Ron shares the inspiration behind his art and his hope for homeless animals. Let me say, thanks Ron—thanks for everything.

Ron Burns and his late dog Rufus
Ron and his late dog Rufus.

From the first time I looked into the eyes of one of the best friends I’ve ever known, I wanted to share what I felt with the world. That best friend was my dog Rufus and the animal-human connection we shared is the stuff of dreams. I had rescued him from a ranch where he had been abandoned by an unknown, and would soon come to find out that he was rescuing me. I was working in corporate America, and spiritually unfulfilled with my life. When I moved to Sedona, Ariz. and began painting Rufus, life started to make sense.

After my wife, Buff, told me I was no longer allowed to sell my paintings of our “kids,” I decided to start visiting humane societies and animal shelters across the country, to paint the animals up for adoption. When the paintings sold, I returned a portion of the sale back to those animal rescue organizations, in thanks for the inspiration—it is a commitment to giving back that I continue to do with my artwork today. This dedication to my inspiration led The Humane Society of the United States to generously offer me the position of their Artist in Residence, which I humbly and gratefully accepted.

Although I am inspired by the innocence, compassion, and endless giving that orphaned, lost, or disregarded animals share with us humans, I wish there were less lonely and I-want-to-be-loved eyes looking up at me when I visit shelters. In fact, in my perfect world, there would be no dogs, cats, or critters looking for a new forever home, because they never would have lost their old one. 

Alex by Ron Burns I am truly blessed to have the opportunity to speak on behalf of the animals on issues ranging from spay and neuter to puppy mills and adoption. Millions of innocent animals are euthanized each year, because people either do not understand or choose to not care about the issues leading to pet overpopulation. If I can educate people myself, or raise money for organizations to spread the word, through my art, I feel fulfilled.

Over a year ago, Rufus left me to go over the rainbow bridge, but he still lives in my heart. His memory and boundless love constantly motivate me to keep helping thousands and hopefully millions of stray animals find their way to loving homes. If I can share even a fraction of the love Rufus gave me with animals and their people, I consider myself a success.

Remember to share your stories about what drives you in your work to protect animals. Offer a comment or send an email, and we’ll post a collection of your accounts next week.

Animal Rescue and Care, Companion Animals

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