Category Archives: Sue Hains

Paintings of Animal Heroes

Freddy

By Sue Hains

In the winter of 2009 – 2010, I was commissioned to paint a picture of Freddy, an FBI dog who had been killed in service. In preparation for working on the portrait, I was sent a photo of Freddy but required other pictures of Belgian Malinois, Freddy’s breed, since some details in his photo were unclear. Searching online, I began to learn about service animals and discovered that Belgian Malinois are often chosen to become Military Working Dogs and police dogs. As I painted, I received emails about Freddy’s life, death and memorial service, and thought more and more about the life of this heroic animal.

Freddy was born in 2007, and served with the FBI from September 8, 2008 to October 28, 2009. The FBI had raided a warehouse being used as a mosque in Dearborn, Michigan, looking for several of its members who were wanted for a number of crimes. The Imam, who had a criminal record and refused to surrender, shot the FBI dog, Freddy, before the Imam himself was fatally shot by agents. Freddy was helicoptered to a veterinary hospital in Detroit, and although the doctors did everything they could to save his life, the wounds were fatal.

At his memorial service in Virginia, local police motorcycle officers escorted Freddy’s flag-draped casket to the FBI Academy, where the FBI Chaplain gave a moving invocation and where K-9 Police Officers and their dogs stood at attention behind a large crowd which included the veterinarians who tried to save his life. Other speakers followed and it was said that Freddy not only fit in with his team but also saw the humans as his pack!

The brass plaque added to the portrait I painted of Freddy reads:

FREDDY

February 17, 2007 – October 28, 2009
Then I heard the voice of the Lord
saying, “Whom shall I send?  And
who will go for us?”  And I said,
“Here am I.  Send me!”
Isaiah 6:8

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A Pet Portrait? Priceless!!

My painting!

By Julia Williams

“Like a kid on Christmas morning” doesn’t even begin to describe how I felt waiting for the Fedex guy to show up with a package the other day. I got up extra early, because I knew I’d have to sign for the package and I didn’t want to be in the shower when he arrived. Overkill, yes – but I wasn’t taking any chances on missing this delivery! As it happened, he didn’t arrive until nearly 4 p.m., and by then I was ready to crawl out of my skin. Have I mentioned that patience is not one of my virtues? LOL.

I carefully opened the big box so as not to damage the precious cargo within. One look…and I was smitten. My smile was so wide I could have eaten a banana sideways. Maybe even two bananas! So what was in there that had me so ecstatic?

It was a painting of my sweet girl kitty, Annabelle, and it was even more beautiful than I knew it would be! This was something I’d wanted to do for some time. My relationship with Annabelle is just so extraordinary that I wanted something to treasure forever. She’s almost ten years old, and though I hope to have at least ten more years with this special one-in-a-million kitty, we just never know how long we’ll have with those we hold dear.

The photo Sue used

I’ve never loved a cat so deeply and completely as Annabelle, and I’ve never felt so loved in return. I wanted a way to honor the beauty of our unique relationship while she’s here, as well as a way to keep her memory alive once she’s gone. To be sure, she will live in my heart for all time, but I think this painting will be a wonderful way to keep the connection strong.

I chose artist Sue Hains after seeing a photo on Facebook of another pet portrait she’d done. It was of Gwen Cooper’s Homer the Blind Wonder Cat, and it perfectly captured his personality. I looked at the other portraits of cats, dogs, horses and birds on Sue’s website, and I just knew she would do a great job. We exchanged several emails and then I had the difficult task of deciding which photo to send Sue. In the end, I chose one that I loved for the sweet, soft expression on Belle’s face.

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