Sometimes art goes beyond simply the aesthetic and instead becomes a salve that helps us heal our wounds and reminds us to cherish what we have. For those at the Hull County Police Department, my most recent portrait speaks to the powerful bond between human and dog and their commitment to each other as a unit.
On a brisk fall morning in October 2017, Officer John Mercer and his police service dog K9 Kenny loaded up their SUV and headed out for their duties. Unfortunately, their day would not end as they anticipated.
Later that morning, when their SUV collided with a sedan, everything changed. The sedan was pinned to a light pole, requiring a 25-minute extraction by firefighters on the scene. Officer Mercer and K9 Kenny’s SUV sustained significant front-end damage. Both drivers were taken to the hospital with serious injuries, and from here, Officer Mercer and K9 Kenny began their long road to recovery.
6 months following the accident, K9 Kenny is fully recovered and back to work, Officer Mercer returned to his duties on March 19.
In honor of the challenges this K9 team has endured, and the clear devotion between Officer Mercer and K9 Kenny, I created a portrait that I donated to Kenny’s handler. I wanted to give Officer Mercer a heartfelt reminder of both his devotion to Kenny, but also the support of those in the community and especially, the Hull Police Department who hand picked Kenny to join the department.
At the time of the accident, Kenny, a Netherlands bred Dutch Shepard, was 7 years old and had become a permanent fixture in the police department, but also in his handler’s life.
The partnership between officer and their K9 dog is a lifelong commitment – the dog and their handler live, work, and play together. Everyday they put their lives in each other’s hands as they work to protect their communities and serve the people of their city.
Although the type of stresses this team endures on a daily basis are far outside my everyday experiences, I know what it means to love and cherish an animal deeply. Even the fear of losing a beloved pet can leave even the strongest of us fragile and worn.
Service animals of all kinds put themselves in harm's way while forging a partnership with a human than can never be replaced. Commemorating that bond with art is the best way I know how to convey those powerful and deep running emotions.
Everyday, all across the world service dogs and other animals work to make our world safer and more secure. They go about their jobs diligently and with gusto. Everyone is touched by a special animal, but the mark left on handlers by service animals is held fast.
If you or someone you know shares a special bond with a service animal and are interested in a portrait, please contact me. These dogs are truly the unsung heroes – improving the lives of people all over the world and dearly touching the heart of their special people.
Stephanie Weaver provides portraits to honor working and service animals and their owners, while donating 100% of the cost to Mission K9 Rescue. Please visit here for more details.
Memorial Plaques are provided by:
All Copyrights and Reproduction Rights are retained by artist Stephanie Weaver. This artwork may not be reproduced by any process without the expressed written permission of the artist.