By Guest Blogger Missy Johnson
(Yesterday Missy wrote of the vision she had to paint 80 dog portraits in 80 days and what became of that vision)
I saw the movie, "Julie & Julia" about the writer who cooked her way thru Julia Child's cookbook and wrote a blog about it. This is what gave me the idea for the blog. It looked easy enough, but I am an artist not a writer, so I planned to have the participating dogs' families write the stories. I would paint the portraits, post them on Twitter, Facebook, and the project blog www.dogsforthepaws.com. I did set up the blog using the basic blogspot.com part of the blog address. It was only recently I bought the domain name. The plan was coming together nicely, but from an idea you have to consider an image so that you can promote and have people recognize you. The project had a name but needed a logo. Since I was painting the portraits, I went with a simple but colorful image the paw in a lot of colors. I picked a funky, trendy font and put it all together. If you are not an artist, there are many affordable designers that can help you with developing your image and logo. You can also use a great clip art site, such as iStock or Vectezzy to find an image to use. With a little work you can have a logo, plan and blog site set up and ready to go within a few hours.
As I continued painting, learning how to post on the blog, Facebook and Twitter, something miraculous began to happen. I was painting and posting and people were starting to join the blog, Facebook and Twitter pages. I would post a new dog and story, and have INSTANT comments from friends and followers. My little "art project" as I call it, was beginning to become a reality with a group of pet lovers just like me. People who want to do something to help animals in need. To learn how to better use social media, I took an online class. With Facebook and Twitter I posted to all the different pet groups, magazines online and published as well. Also, I posted to all my pet friends, current and all the new friends I was meeting along the way. Folks seemed to find the stories of these rescued pets to be inspiring and they loved the art presentation. It's that simple, friends. Take all the parts and pieces and present it in an engaging and unique way and your passion will drive you to success.
With the world at my fingertips through Facebook, Twitter and the blog, I would post and share to all my local sites, as well as national sites, groups, events, etc. The project was first introduced nationally by DogTipper.com and it continued to gain popularity and friends. The project has been featured in many online and published magazines as well as FIDOFriendly, All Things Dog Blog and PeoplePets. The PAWS PACK families, as they are fondly known, have written and contributed stories and posts to bring more attention to the dogs and the shelters/rescues that found these animals. More and more people started sharing as well and the portraits began to get the attention of so many people. I spent about three hours every night, just working with the social media and interaction with fans. Also, there was painting every night of the week. I was excited! This project was being noticed all over the country and I was invited to paint all sorts of unique rescued dogs. My first portrait was of my own rescued dog, Wyatt Earp. However, this blog touched on every breed of dog and every subject that had to be addressed by the rescuing shelter or group…from fighting dogs to senior pets. From Nico, the Dogo Argentino, Faith, the very well known two legged dog, Rosie, from the Basset Hound puppy mill, Chamberlin who has sparked the WORLD with his amazing story of recovery and Target, the Afghan Hero dog who was named USA Today's Most Heroic Dog of 2010…the project dogs are all inspiring. I tack the paintings on my studio wall so that I can remember what I am suppose to do — inspire others to be the change for all animals in need. The group is not breed specific, which makes it fun to read about Azera, The Nova Scotia Tolling Water Retriever to Riley the Labrador mix senior who lived 13 years of his life on the end of a chain. The stories are heartfelt. I always joke that I have kept the Kleenex Company in business while working on the portraits and reading the stories, and crying through many days and nights.
After the idea first popped into my head and until I finally finished the paintings, people have wanted to share, post and talk about the project. They asked when the next painting or story would be posted, etc… Some hope that posting on the blog about a rescue group that needs to raise funds might get attention and support from other animal lovers. Pet lovers meeting other pet lovers, from all over the world, using the blog, Facebook and Twitter pages. I sit in Charleston, South Carolina, doing my art, and looking at the studio wall with the coolest "wallpaper" you have ever seen.
This simple little idea of 80 dogs' portraits, with 80 stories or their rescues, has grown to almost 3000 fans from Twitter to Facebook and the numbers continue to grow daily. It really is a reality that is coming into its own, with an active support group. I am truly amazed!
Just remember that not every idea will become reality but with your heart and passion for your idea, you can make a difference and find success, just by being the unique individual that YOU are. For my birthday my Mom gave me a sign that reads: "Uniqueness: "Today You are You, That is Truer than True. There is No One Alive Who is You-er than YOU"
Now go make a difference!
This is a wonderful idea, using your best skills for a great cause. I hope more people learn about your efforts and get the initiative to do something for a good cause themselves, in their own way.
We’ve had the best time following the progress of the Dogs for the PAWS project, enjoying the paintings and reading the stories of these dogs! Congratulations, Missy!
I love your passion and the joy you are passing on to others!!!
Thank you so much BlogPaws for this wonderful opportunity to be a guest blogger and sharing DFTP with all your friends and fans. Hope to bring all the DFTP portraits to BlogPaws in August to share with everyone…
Also BIG WOOFS to all above for the sweet comments about the project. DogTipper and everyone from BlogPaws to FIDOFriendly have been so supportive of DFTP!!! It takes a village friends….
Yes, Missy, and you’ve shown again what a great “village” the online pet cummunity is to be part of!
Your “no one alive is you-er than you” quote keeps echoing in my head. I hadn’t seen it before and, because of the … let’s go with “uniqueness” of me, I had to try to find out where it came from! As you probably already knew, I learned it’s from Dr. Seuss’ book, Happy Birthday to You!
Anyway, you’ve given us another inspiring example of what one person can accomplish — and the personal joy that person gets back — by taking action on an idea and follow the winding path it will lead you on.
We have many other examples, especially among our more artistic BlogPaws folk, from painters like you and BZTAT, to Kyla Duffy’s “Don’t Kill Bill” aerial act, to our 12 year old granddaughter Miah’s efforts to use her passions for dance to Start the Change.
But I think it’s important to re-emphasize your main point that it doesn’t matter what your particular talents or passions might be, you can still make a difference. This quote from Kyla’s Up for Pups Do Your Part page drives home that point:
“Consider the difference between sitting at your office desk and entering data into a spreadsheet and sitting on your couch, listening to good music with your furry best friend by your side, entering data into a spreadsheet. Either way, you’re entering data, but for obvious reasons doing it at home with your furry friend is much more enjoyable. Now consider entering data at home with your furry friend warming your hip but doing it for a cause close to your heart. That’s creative volunteerism.”
The creativity comes, not from trying to be the next Missy Johnson, but from finding a way to use “the uniqueness of you” for a cause that matters to … you!
Thanks again for sharing your story and inspiring us all.
Thanks so much Tom for that wonderful comment. I think my Mom had mentioned it might be from Dr. Seuss when she purchased the sign from a catalog company. She said it just had Missy all over it when she saw it. I am so honored to share and inspire others because as we walk this world, we make it what we want for each of US. I work full time but my heart says do something “unique” in your free time that will bring others to your level of thinking and understanding why we need to continue our work helping to be the change.
To this day I still have people ask WHY rescue? Of course I look at them and can’t believe they ask such a question…but then the idea of taking something as simple as a good dog rescue story, putting my heart and talent to work to present it in a little different way, so that the next person who asks, I can give them a DFTP flyer or information on the wonderful work our rescues and shelters do with a colorful eyecatching image , I hope will spark them to want to check out the project, maybe get them to Facebook and along the way they see all these animals who are in need and start to realize WHY.
I was given the birthday gift yesterday to go and visit my 80th PAWS PACK boy, Chamberlin in NC. He is recovering from abuse that was just not acceptable!!! Chained to a tree and the owners moved out of the house and left him there waiting…for over 2 months until he was discovered by the lawn mower service. That’s how tall the grass was…they didn’t even see him til they cut the yard! I hugged him and looked into those soulful eyes and thought WHY? Why would your people not take you with them or at least try and find a more suitable place than leaving you alone in a yard?
So as we all know, to be the change we have to work harder and harder and battle these mountains…but I truly know that the power of awareness is growing and with passion and heart it will MAKE A CHANGE for all animals in need. To some, this group of 80 dogs is nothing but a speck as compared to the thousands that die in our shelters everyday. But this little art project may be small but it’s power is great. I sit and look at the “coolest” wallpaper ever and maybe just then someone in Missouri reads the Dogs project and thinks about that neighbor dog a few houses away that has no proper shelter or food and is sitting on a 6ft chain. Hopefully, they will be inspired from one of our PAWS PACK dogs to realize it’s not right to “TREAT” an animal that way because when you think about it…it’s not a “TREAT” of good at all.
As I said before, I am just a regular person who has only a small gift to give in the fight but I am here and I am ready to make a difference!
DFTP sounds awesome! I really enjoyed reading how you got started, Missy!
Thanks Pup Fan and hope you go and check out DFTP and our PAWS PACK 80 dogs…they are so special…and have brought me to a journey I didn’t know I was supposed to take…so blessed…