Saturday, December 1, 2012

Portraits of Love and a Drawing for a FREE Custom Kat 'n Kanine Pet Portrait!

Gibson with Kathleen and her beautiful portrait of him!
Did you ever have that moment when you were totally surprised by someone else’s thoughtfulness? It’s a wonderful feeling that is difficult to put into words. Perhaps author Harold Kushner says it best, “When you carry out acts of kindness you get a wonderful feeling inside. It is as though something inside your body responds and says, yes, this is how I ought to feel.” So true. And it bears the same for the recipient as well. I know that feeling, and yes, it feels good! Case in point: While visiting our vet’s office – the amazing Kingston Animal Hospital - for his routine K-Laser therapy sessions, my Epi-Husky Gibson (you can check out his video getting a treatment from KAH on the My K-Laser Pet website and also in this blog by clicking HERE) always enjoys the love and attention the staff at Kingston Animal Hospital bestows upon him. Honestly, to watch him prance – and yes, he does prance – into the office and look around to greet the staff (and Gibson LOVES the girls!) who all go out of their way to make him feel very special, warms my heart. He’s really slipped comfortably into his role of “star” there! They are the best. And I’m not just saying that. With an Epi-Husky, it is so important as we’ve discussed in this blog before, to have a veterinarian team who not only care, but are knowledgeable on Canine Epilepsy and are there for you to discuss best practices and therapies and to also discuss options. They care tremendously for all the animals and I value their opinion immensely. We’ve been through quite a bit together – Gibson with his Canine Epilepsy, medications, weak hind-end issues, K-Laser treatments, and frequent bloodwork; Wolf with his surgery for those bizarre papillomas on his elbow; Chloe with her blown CCLs; and Harley with her recent fatty tumor-like growth – we are familiar faces there! And to say I trust their opinions when it comes to my Husky kids, is an understatement. If we ever move, and I can't get there by car, I’m going to have to take the whole place and everyone in it with me! So what’s the big surprise that has given us that “wonderful feeling inside?”  Check this out:

Gibson meets Gibson!
Yes…that IS a portrait of Gibson painted on our vet’s outdoor storage building! Imagine my surprise when I discovered that one of the office girls – Kathleen Burger, a/k/a Kat – who is truly a gal of many talents – surprised us with this beautiful portrait of Gib painted on their building along with some other pretty special dogs! What an incredible honor!

So how did it all begin? I chatted with Kathleen to get the scoop. She credits the hospital’s practice manager, Sharon Staccio, with the brainstorm. Explains Kathleen, “One day Sharon came into work and said ‘Kat, I have a vision.’ She told me how she has always wanted to 'spruce' up the overgrown lot behind the parking area and wanted to take me on as a partner to creatively 'make it happen.’ Sharon's dream started with one painting of a dog who looked to be in motion walking out of a doggy door. Dr. (Arnold) Rugg's newest addition, Tulip, his rescue Pug, seemed to be the perfect fit. After some planning and much rainy Saturday morning Sharon and her son, Jeremy, showed up at my apartment with a plain white door. After its completion and overwhelming excitement from the staff, the vision took on a life of its own...and the rest of the pet portraits began taking their spotlights.”

Gibson with Kathleen, her portrait of  him, and Dr. Rugg.
Kat explains that it is their hope to eventually add some park benches and a stone walkway with a patio area for us clients and our furry companions to enjoy! “Already we see owners using that area for walking, waiting or even playing with their companions to relieve some ‘doctor-based anxiety’ before their appointments. I took it upon myself to construct a wooden sign, giving the area a title: It reads, STACCIO'S PATIO WHERE THE ANIMALS WILL NEVER "SHED!” It was Kat’s boyfriend who came up with the cute name as a play on words since the painted animals can’t actually shed and also alluding to the fact that these beloved pets “will never leave our hearts.”

The Pug who started it all!
One of the amazing things about Kathleen is that she creates these beautiful portraits with virtually no formal training in painting or art. “It’s true!” she admits. “I have dappled here and there, painting mainly for myself as a form of self meditation, but never took a class.” This Elvis of the canine art world credits her mother for passing the creative gene down to both Kathleen and her sister. “My sister graduated college with an art degree and currently paints for a living. I, on the other hand, learned the messy way! I have ruined way too many brushes than I'd like to admit and have gone through probably gallons of white paint frantically covering horrible mistakes. I still look to both my mother, sister, and even my boyfriend for an outsider’s perspective. Sometimes when I'm in the 'zone,' I can't see if dimensions or shadowing look a bit off, so I like to play a game called ‘What looks weird!?!’ to where I make them critique what I have painted so far. I really do owe a lot of what you see in those portraits to their helpful eyes.” Kathleen feels this project was not only one of love, but also one of “self-discovery,” where she actually developed her own signature technique, progressing in “skill level” with each beautiful portrait she completed.

Gibson checking out the other beautiful pet portraits.

How long to paint each portrait varies depending on the animal. “With the personal pets I had very limited photographs to work with, so I tried my best to subtly ask questions to try to get their personalities and physical qualities to come across in my painting. Free time was the biggest issue (working two, sometimes three jobs) so more often then not I would paint a couple of hours at the end of the night before bed, doing each portrait in phases. At times I would jot down notes about details or needed corrections so I could easily pick up where I left off the night before.” But there have been times when the inspirational muse strikes that she has painted a portrait all in one sitting!

In addition to her reception duties at the Kingston Animal Hospital, Kathleen is also the creative force behind many other things, too, including “constructing four giant tick costumes and appearing as a walking “Tick” in two local holiday parades promoting Lyme Disease Awareness! She’s also had a cameo or two in the media during interviews alerting the Hudson Valley about existing epidemics, and she has designed and made a “Santa’s Workshop” for complimentary photos with Santa (who is really Kathleen!) during the holiday season. “You can pretty much guarantee among the staff, if it's wearing ears, fur, or even a jolly white beard…its probably me!” she admits with a laugh.

Kathleen as Santa in her homemade "Santa's Workshop" at Kingston Animal Hospital waiting for all the good pets to come and visit for a photo!
Outside of the hospital, Kathleen has been pet sitting for over 10 years in various locations and has started a casual pet care business called, “Kat n’ Kanine Pet Service.” You can check it out over on Facebook on her Kat n’ Kanine Facebook page. She gives her charges the same love and care she gives her own pets. “I have two very outgoing, loving, and comedic cats of my own. My one-eared, one-eyed 'Mr. Moo' and my 7-toed, rattlesnake-shaking bobtail, 'McGee.' My boys both require a lot of attention and snuggles, which is nothing less than what I show to each and everyone of my pet sitting pals.”

With so many creative endeavors, including growing up in music and theatre, and holding a bachelor’s in communications, I had to ask her what’s up next? “That’s the hardest question to answer, really...with 10 years pet sitting experience and almost 8 years of animal hospital knowledge, I find working with animals to be completely fulfilling. I never really expected my life to take as many artistic/creative turns as it already has. I hope to one day combine my personal connections/network, communications degree, and animal care experience…branch out take control and expand my pet service business into a life long career. Never leaving behind my newly found artistic talent, quirky love for entertaining and amazing, romantic partnership!”

"Thank you, Kat, for painting me on this Wall of  Honor!"
I feel so honored to have my boy Gibson among the beautiful wall of honor of special canines on the Kingston Animal Hospital’s outbuilding that include furkids of Dr. Rugg and his son's, Sharon's, and a few “impromtu pooches” Kat created! Says Kathleen, “I am such a huge fan of the FiveSibes, and after reading the courageous, inspiring story of Gibson’s life being diagnosed with Canine Epilepsy, I felt compelled to paint such a beautiful, strong-willed Husky. Then, of course, I got to meet him, so gentle and fluffy, while working at the hospital and personally watch his progress with K-Laser treatments. I can speak for the entire staff when I say that he is definitely one of our favorite patients!”

And…here’s the best part…Kat a/k/a “Santa”…is going to be giving away a custom painting of one lucky reader’s pet! To enter, just complete the Rafflecopter below! To enter, you just have to be a follower of this FiveSibes blog, "Like" our FiveSibes: Siberian Husky K-9 News & Reviews Facebook community page if you have Facebook (not mandatory), and leave us a blog comment why you'd love to have a portrait of your pet done by Kathleen. That’s it! I’ll announce the winner on next Saturday’s blog post! Many thanks to Kat for honoring my Gibson in such a creative, wonderful way and for donating this great prize! What a nice present for someone...or for yourself! Ho! Ho! Ho!

a Rafflecopter giveaway

***Contest Update: Congrats to The OP Pack of The Chronicle of Woos on winning the Kat 'n Kanine Pet Portrait!***


  1. Woof! Woof! WOW! That is a wonderful painting. She is talented ... Oh my and she is a Santa. What a great giveaway. Will enter. Golden Thanks. Lots of Golden Woofs, Sugar

  2. Wow, that Kat is one talented peep fur sure! And she's very creative too. I pawsonally hate going to the dogtor even though the peeps there are always really good to me. This is such a great idea to brighten up that shed and I love how her pix have depth to them. It really looks like you are looking into the pix. I'm going to try to enter this even though I don't do facebook, because my peeps have no portraits of me in the living room...that's just wrong! BOL I have pix in the kitchen, but every room should have me, right?!? Thanks for hosting this!
    Grr and Woof,
    Sarge, COP

  3. What a talented, generous, special Kat! That portrait of Gibson is the best, of course... no offense to the others.

  4. How awesome! Those are beautiful and to think she has never had any professional painting training is just awesome! I would love to have one, they are very pretty!

  5. What an amazing person Kat is!!! Beautiful paintings by a very sweet lady - look at that gorgeous smile she has! It is easy to tell that she loves animals.

    Woos - Phantom, Thunder, Ciara, and Lightning

  6. Very neat! It's made even neater because the artist has a great name.


  7. I wish my human had such talented paws!

    Great stuffs!!!!!!!


  8. OMG! Kat is one talented lady! She did such a great job on Gibson's portrait. We would love to have such a beautiful portrait done as it would provide everlasting memories of one of our babies! :)

  9. Oh Dog! that is so cool! Whoever wins is sure gonna be one lucky dog... or cat!

  10. That's such a cool idea and Gibson you're such a wonderful subject - love that pic!!

    Have a fun day,

    Your pal Snoopy :)

  11. That is really awesome work! We entered the drawing! Play bows,


  12. Wow, great likeness of you Gibson. You are one very loved guy!

  13. We had a golden retriever who had seizures for a couple months. (the result of using Hartz topical flea treatment, we learned the hard way not to trust their products!) Fortunately, after we stopped using Hartz products she recovered. But I remember how scared we were when she was having seizures. Our vet thought we might be dealing with them for the rest of her life too. There is a lot more information available now on seizures/epilepsy, and it looks like you are really helping educate people!

  14. This is really great !!! The painting is just amazing, you're a very lucky guy, Gipson !!

    Woos of love.

    Echo & Link

  15. It is so wonderful to hear another family rave about their vet team as much as we do! What wonderful, talented people take care of your Sibes! Kat is a soulful artist and her work is lovely. Our Quinn gets laser therapy treatments for his back end, too and they work wonders.

  16. Canine epilepsy is so hard to go through. I also have a husky that suffers from it. You get lulled into a false sense of peace when they go months without seizures. Hoping and praying that somehow they have outgrown it. Unfortunately that's not the case. My 5 year old started having them when she was a little over 2. She's still my baby girl and I wouldn't trade her for anything in the world.

  17. What an amazing lady and talented artist. Love Gibson's portrait and can't imagine the surprise when you saw it. I too had an Epileptic Husky. Our vet and staff also had their "favorite" patient whenever we went in Shiya would jump up to see who was behind the counter and give kisses! A portrait of my girl would be such a wonderful gift in her honor. I miss her dearly and even though the seizures and other health issues she suffered through in her short 3 1/2 yrs I would do it again in a heart beat! She was special to my entire family and we miss her dearly. My 7yr old granddaughter asked my daughter if she could ask Santa to bring Shiya back for Christmas. Not a toy or something for her she asked for our special girl to come back. I have to say I cried my heart out when I found out what she asked Santa for this year.