Blind Dachshund turns artist to help dogs in need

Centralia, Wash., artist Dee Dee Murry is what’s known in the art world as a realist, her work capturing every minute detail in acrylic paint. Animals are her favorite subject.

One of Hallie’s watercolor paintings, “Cattle Drive,” sells for $100. (Photo credit: Hallieart.com)

“I do wildlife, horses, and dogs,” she explains. “I like to paint every hair on the animal.”

Murry is lucky enough to be able to make a living doing what she loves, working out of her home art studio. But there’s another artist in the family, a regular Van Gogh on four legs — Murry’s 13-year-old longhaired Dachshund, Hallie.

Murry rescued Hallie from an animal shelter in the summer of 2001, first as a foster mom to Hallie and her two sisters and then, when she realized she could not bear saying goodbye to the black-and-tan Doxie, as Hallie’s adopted owner.

Over the years, the intelligent pooch learned many tricks and skills, even winning competitions and a Canine Good Citizen title. But one day as Murry was at work in her studio, Hallie by her side as always, Murry wondered if Hallie might enjoy painting. After a quick lesson, Hallie holding a paintbrush between her teeth in front of a fresh canvas, it was clear the little Dachshund was an artist at heart.

“Hallie is an abstract impressionist,” Murry tells KREM.com of her creative canine.

For Murry and Hallie, the painting process is simple — using small dabs and strokes against the canvas, Hallie creates a new and colorful abstract piece and is rewarded with a small tasty treat at the end.

“She paints faster the better the treat is,” Murry jokes.

But Hallie’s talents as a visual artist aren’t impressive just because she is a dog — she’s also blind. In April 2010, veterinarians diagnosed Hallie with a condition called Sudden Acquired Retinal Degeneration (SARDs), an autoimmune disease that causes rapid degeneration of the retinas. Murry says Hallie quite literally went blind overnight.

“It felt like life was over, I felt so sorry for her,” Murry writes on Hallie’s webpage bio, “and for me too with all that we’d miss.”

But Hallie wasn’t about to let a little thing like vision loss get her down.

“Hallie let herself be down in the dumps for a couple of weeks, then because of the amazing spirit she is, she decided to say heck with it and just have a good life,” her proud owner writes.

Despite her vision problems, Hallie has continued to flourish as an artist, painting dozens of pieces and enjoying every minute of it, Murry says. And not only is Hallie good at what she does, she is also successful, her current paintings selling for as much as $100 apiece.

All the proceeds from Hallie’s art go to a great cause — supporting the small southwest Washington animal rescue organization Purple Heart Rescue. Last year alone, Hallie’s art brought in a whopping $15,000 in donations and earned her a humanitarian award.

“I’m her biggest fan,” Purple Heart Rescue’s Deb Harp says of Hallie. “I can’t even tell you how many lives she’s touched.”

To learn more about Hallie or to check out some of her unique artwork, check out her website at Hallieart.com.

Sources: Hallieart.com, KREM.com