One-eared Rescue Dog Paints His Way to the Heart of a New Owner and into a Loving Forever Home


A 7-year-old pit bull mix was found in a drainpipe with full of blood on his left head. It turned out that his ear was so severely damaged that it had to be surgically removed. It was later learned that he lost his left ear after being used as a bait dog in a dog-fighting ring in North Carolina.

However, after recuperating from surgery, the one-eared talented dog named Van Gogh painted a perfect picture and won the heart of a new owner who gave him a forever home.

34-year-old Jaclyn Gartner, the founder of the nonprofit Happily Furever After Rescue in Bethel, Connecticut, saw the photo of the bleeding pup. She instantly stepped in to help. “The second I saw his picture online, I just had love for this dog,” Jaclyn told TODAY.

Jaclyn immediately called the shelter where Van Gogh was staying. She checked up on the pup and also inquired if there were any interested parties for adoption. “The smile he had was just so big,” Jaclyn said. “And he seemed so sweet. I spoke to the shelter about him, and they said he hadn’t gotten any interest.”

Fortunately, one of Jaclyn’s volunteer fosterers agreed to take Van Gogh in temporarily. Soon after, they worked with Pilots N Paws, a nonprofit shelter, and flew Van Gogh to Connecticut from North Carolina.

Jaclyn wanted to help hasten the process of his chances of being in a forever home. She decided to make Van Gogh paint a picture of “Starry Night”, his namesake, Vincent Van Gogh’s masterpiece. She placed various colors of paint drops on an 8-by-10-inch canvas and covered it with plastic with smeared dog-safe peanut butter on it. The dog instantly went to work by smearing the paint into a form of impressionistic art.

“It was adorable,” Jaclyn said. “He was really enjoying it.”

Jaclyn had an idea for a special adoption event with Van Gogh as the sole attraction. She let Van Gogh paint more art and advertised his “art gallery” on social media to attract possible foster parents. On the day of the event, Jaclyn set up food and drinks at a volunteer’s home. However, only 2 people showed up. The dog needed a new temporary foster home and was sent to volunteer Jessica Starowitz.

“She came over and met him, and they instantly hit it off. He loved her, and she loved him,” Jaclyn said. “So, after she left, I texted her, ‘Is it too soon for me to ask if you would ever consider adopting him?’”

Fortunately, volunteer Jessica Starowitz adopted the dog after 48 hours.

“I didn’t adopt him to paint and make money off him,” 44-year-old Jessica said. “I adopted him because I fell in love with him.”

Since he arrived, Van Gogh has done his own “works” and spends most of his time with the new family.

“We’ll let him keep painting until he says he’s done with it… probably if we run out of peanut butter or liverwurst or snacks,” Jessica said with a laugh.

Incidentally, Jessica Starowitz is a long-time fan of Van Gogh. Her sons even gave her a Lego set of “The Starry Night” as a gift. She hopes that Van Gogh’s story will inspire people who plan to adopt furry friends who need a home.

“Dogs give you unconditional love, so you just return the favor,” she says. “See how fun it can be.”

Images credits: © Happily Furever After Rescue


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