Below is a sampling of the artist portraits. Each dog’s profile led to a lively class discussion such as senior dogs, busy dogs that need exercise, medical, physical and emotional needs, fostering and adoption,finding adopted families for older dogs, and the responsibility of caring for dogs from puppy hood to retirement. A personal challenge for me was to make sure our discussions remained in an age appropriate realm for elementary students. We also discussed artistic styles that each artist can chose to convey each dog’s uniqueness, both physical appearance, personality traits and their needs.


Our class discussion included what may bring a dog comfort as they adjust to their new lives. As an11-year-old, Arby was looking for an adult only home to retire in. Arby’s portraitist was thoughtful in their approach to painting Arby’s background. The artist responded to Arby’s enjoyment of watching TV with his foster family by painting future for Arby’s that included a restful retirement home complete with some TV watching with his new forever family. The artist told me that he wanted Arby to have the same comforts that he had in his foster home in his new home. More dogs like Arby are available for adoption from


The first line of August’s profile says “August may be small but he is huge in love.” We talked in class about what that could mean. We also talked about all the ways you could paint a portrait of a dog so that it conveys their personality. August’s portrait artist took a bright and bold Pop Art approach similar to Keith Haring’s style and made it their own. With its black outlines and smooth application of solid colours, this artist thought outside of the box and created a gorgeous and fun portrait of August that shows this little dogs big personality. August was adoptable from


This dog named Doyle had a medical issue that organically led to a discussion about dog’s medical needs. Doyle has a skin condition which causes him to need a special diet. Doyle’s portrait artist wrote a letter to Doyle cheering him on in his adoption process while also noting Doyle’s medical needs by writing “I hope you get adopted and your irritated skin clears up soon!” We were lucky to have the opportunity to hear from Doyle’s foster family and know how loved he is! This also acted as a catalyst for a class conversation about the different between fostering and adoption and the importance of both.

Thank you @trailsandbears for sharing Doyle’s wonderful story and photograph with us! More dogs like Doyle ware waiting at to meet their forever families


What kind of home should a puppy have? Karma’s profile led us to this question and many more about the differences between senior dogs and puppies. Karma’s artist imagined a relaxing home with comfy couch for her to rest on. I loved watching this artist hard at work on the details such as the cross-stitched cushions and freckles on Karma’s nose. When asked about the beautiful brightly coloured cushions, Karma’s portrait artist said they wished a happy and comfortable spot for Karma to live in. More dogs like Karma can be adopted from


This is our second portrait of Madonna. I try not to have duplicates often but when it does happen that two artists receive the same dog, I love seeing the process and the portraits completed in such different styles. Madonna’s profile led our class into a great discussion about the different needs different dogs have; why dogs may need an adult only home, a home with older children or if a dog must be the only pet in the home. Both of Madonna’s portrait artists thought of wonderful futures for Madonna as indicated by the backgrounds, for example one painted a mountain scene in hopes that Madonna would have lots of mountain adventures in the future. The other portrait artist painted Madonna with her beloved squeaky pig toy as they knew it brought Madonna some comfort. Madonna is available for adoption at


Momo is a dog who was looking for a patient family to earn her trust.  Momo’s artist and I spent lots of time thinking about the different brushstrokes and mark-making that could be used to create Momo’s curly fur. We also spent a lot of time talking about what it meant to earn someone’s trust just as Momo’s profile indicated you would need to do her. This artist decided to paint Momo out in a field with a ball that Momo’s new family, someone Momo would learn to trust, would throw to her. More puppies and senior dogs are available for adoption at


Olivette and her 9 siblings stole our hearts and helped up think about the different stages of a dog’s life. We had a class discussion about how as a dog grows and changes their needs will change as well. Bringing it back to our conversation about puppies and senior dogs, and the benefits of living and loving both, we talked about the importance of new families knowing that their puppies will grow into bigger dogs and will need care in a different way than they did as puppies. In this class discussion one of the artist offered an important statement that summed up the needs of puppies and senior dogs. They said “If I were a puppy id have so much energy and want to play all of the time. But, if I were old I would want to be around my family all of the time so I think senior dogs need to be with their families all of the time too.”  Lots of dogs and puppies like Olivette are available for adoption


Pochi’s profile sparked a conversation about the importance of routine for dogs. Pochi’s portrait artist wanted to give Pochi a sweater embroidered with “Adopt Me”. They also painted a terrific background to show a future they hope for Pochi - a sunny Park to play in with a family’s who loves her and has identified the importance of routine for Pochi, such as going for walks. They hoped that the cheerful background and sweeter indicating that Pochi was available for adoption, would draw more attention to Pochi so she could find a forever home sooner. More dogs like Pochi are excited to meet their new forever families at


When the students receive their adoptable dog’s profile photos I’m always so interested to see what they are drawn to first in the story, what they want to share with the class and what artistic elements captures their attention and what gets transferred to their sketchbooks. In this class we spoke about how Prim is the perfect example of how all dogs have very their own personalities, likes and dislikes. For example, unlike some of the other profiles we read that day, Prim isn’t super motivated for long hikes but much happier with short walks. Next, we noticed the amazing shapes that make up Prim’s face with the expression she is making. Prim’s artist wanted to showcase Prim’s personality, had an idea in mind of how to sketch out then paint Prim. Thank you @trailsandbears for sharing this wonderful photo and story with us! There are more animals waiting to be taken to their forever homes at


Our Empathy Pawject classes fall in love with the adoptable dogs we learn about; Waffles was no exception! Both his name and his curious and playful expressions seen on @trailsandbears photos, captured all of our hearts! Waffle’s artist had lots of questions both about technical ways to execute this portrait, as well as what may make this puppy happy in the future. More dogs are available to adopt from


Molly happens to be from the province I grew up in. The photograph of this pup in this landscape was so fun for me to show the students and talk about what parts of New Brunswick look like, for those who had not been there. This brought about a good conversation about how adoptable dogs are everywhere and the importance of raising awareness for them in hopes that they find forever homes. Molly’s portrait artist experimented with different applications of paint and chose thick painterly brushstrokes for this portrait. Thank you @trailsandbears for sharing your amazing stories and photographs with us for this project! More dogs like Molly are excited to meet their new families and are available for adoption from