Animals have been mankind’s best friends for thousands of years, whether in the role of co-workers or beloved pets. In fact, the ancient Egyptians thought that cats were the earthly manifestations of the goddess Bast. The tombs were decorated with images of cats, which were appreciated not only for their beauty and friendliness, but also because they cleaned the barns of rodents without destroying or eating the grain. In China, cats were thought to be the reincarnations of loved ones and that was considered a step towards Nirvana.
Horses have also long been appreciated and loved by humans in addition to their ability to work and help feed the family or breed. Because of their strength and beauty, the centaur was thought by the ancient Greeks to have half the body of a horse, in India they represented the sun, and in China more than 5,000 terracotta horses with their riders were made for the emperor more than two thousand years. . Today we love horses as much as ever and breeders are even replenishing lines of these noble animals that have been in decline over the past century.
Dogs have also always held a special place in our hearts. There are hundreds of specific breeds and thousands of mixes. Dogs work for us, protecting us, healing us as therapy dogs, guiding our blind and deaf citizens, and even saving our lives as professional search dogs and as pets in our own homes. In Greek mythology, dogs were believed to guard the gates of Hades! From Boxers to Black Labradors to Mastiffs to Chihuahuas to mutts, there’s a loving dog with the right size and characteristics for everyone.
Our love for our animals has led us to put their images on mugs, plates, t-shirts, hats, key chains, even our personal checks! People in the later years of their lives even include their pets in their bequests to ensure that the pet has a comfortable life after the death of its owners. Images of animals can be found in caves used by the earliest form of humanity, in tombs, and on ancient scrolls and artifacts. Artists have included dogs, cats, and horses in paintings of famous rulers and lowly servants, in landscapes, and even as portrait subjects. Almost everyone has seen the famous painting of dogs playing poker or admired the magnificent representations of animals in the 16th century paintings by Rubens or other artists throughout the centuries.
Today, more people than ever want their pet portraits done by talented artists and spend anywhere from $150 to over a thousand dollars to immortalize their loved ones in oil paintings. Others sponsor professional photographers, draftsmen or artists specializing in charcoal or pastels. Just as we treasure the memories and images of our family, we also cherish our pets and want their images with us beyond their lifetimes. Because animals rarely sit still for long periods of time—although some cat owners would say their cats are an exception!—usually a photo of the animal is taken and used to create the portrait. The most conscientious artists prefer to visit the pet in person in addition to working with a photograph, to get an idea of the personality involved; those portraits are often the ones that really capture a pet’s personality.
Even those on a tight budget can have their pet’s photo on their favorite coffee mug or magnet, thanks to digital technology. Our pets are such an integral part of us, they give so selflessly that we naturally want to have their images to share with others who may not be able to meet them. Dogs, cats, horses, and so many other pets bring us pleasure and love, teach children responsibility and affection, and affect our daily lives in countless ways. It’s no wonder we want to bring your images into our everyday lives and beyond yours.