There are dogs who hunt, dogs who fetch, and dogs who do tricks for food. Of the variety of skillful acts performed by pooches, few have proven to be as lucrative as painting, as witnessed in the artistic careers of rescue pup Arbor, service-dog flunky Dog Vinci, and blind longhaired dachshund Hallie. Now, the latest furry friend to burst onto the four-legged art scene is a black-and-tan Shiba Inu in Edmonton, Alberta named Hunter. Falling somewhere in the vast chasm between finger (paw?) painting and abstract expressionism, Hunter's style is very much in line with his hound counterparts, but his enthusiasm is all his own.
Hunter's human parents are a computer engineer named Kenny and his wife Denise, an ESL teacher. In order to make sure that the adorable and slyly intelligent Hunter remains physically and mentally active, the couple have been encouraging Hunter to explore his interests. By all appearances, the willful, tenacious, and stubborn family pet has finally obliged, eagerly picking up paintbrushes with his mouth and making short strokes on canvases in exchange for treats.
"Like all dog tricks and activities, Hunter is being rewarded to perform certain motions," Kenny tells Creators. "When he learns a new trick, however, he is very visibly proud of himself, so it isn't just the treat that motivates him. We can definitely see that he enjoys being placed in different environments and learning new things, especially after struggling with it. I think that is something that both an artist and [a] doggo can share."
Hunter's new career has taken off. Images of the dog with a paintbrush in his mouth have quickly captured the hearts of reddit users, art-lovers, and Shiba Inu aficionados longing for new tricks to introduce to the highly intelligent breed.
"We don't think he's more capable at being trained than other dogs or other breeds," says Kenny. "We've seen some other dogs do some amazing tricks that Hunter couldn't possibly do. Just like people, it really depends on the dog and what they're into. A large part of it has to do with the time and effort the owners are willing to commit to finding out what interests their dogs have and how to encourage them to test their limits."
Now, Hunter is taking painting one step further, going so far as to make his parents open up an Etsy to commission original creations.
"We do have plans to sell [the paintings] and maybe do some commission work if the demand is real and as long as Hunter is happy," Kenny says. "Otherwise, we are fine to just keep these paintings for ourselves and see what other ways we can challenge him."
While he's only been at it for a couple of weeks, Hunter has clearly found a new passion in painting. His owners report that he's eager to make new paintings every night after work. Oh, and April Fools' will mark Hunter's fourth birthday, which somehow doesn't come as a surprise.