Each year since 1987, as part of the Sunflower Cluster of dog shows held in Valley Center, Kan., in April, judges for the Art Show at the Dog Show select winners in a variety of categories, and one artist’s work is named Best of Show. Each year’s winning artwork is then purchased and donated to the AKC Museum of the Dog.

“Chickadee” was Best of Show at the 2007 Art Show at the Dog Show. Photo courtesy of the AKC Museum of the Dog.

In 2007 the winner was a whimsical bronze entitled “Chickadee,” by artist Louise Peterson, who lives in Colorado. Peterson, a native of England, trained in classical ballet and has said that her dance experience “helped shape her love of figurative sculpture.” She moved to the United States in 1984 and studied clay modeling at Santa Monica College in Southern California before moving to Colorado in 1998. There in the mountains she found her own Great Dane to be her most reliable living model, whose presence turned her into a sculptor of the animals she so loves.

A photo that Louise’s husband happened to snap of Great Dane Nandi examining a fly on her backside became the inspiration for the Best of Show sculpture. Photos courtesy of Louise Peterson:

It was a funny little action of another of her Danes, Nandi, that led to the creation of “Chickadee,” a half life-size bronze of which now resides at the AKC Museum. “Nandi was the inspiration for ‘Chickadee,’ as she was looking at a fly on her butt when my husband snapped a photo in that exact pose,” Louise says today. “It wasn’t until many years later that I decided to sculpt the piece, and by that time Bella was my model.” Nandi and Bella are just two of several Danes with whom she has shared her life over the years.

Louise and Nandi.

From her ranch studio near Guffey, Colo., nestled among the mountains west of Colorado Springs, Louise continues to be inspired by both the high country that surrounds her and the animals she encounters. She typically accepts several commissions a year to capture people’s companions in clay.

Her work is also featured on numerous pieces of “functional art,” such as ornaments, business card holders, T-shirts, notecards and memorial urns. Her designs have become unique pendants, earrings, bracelets and belt buckles for dog lovers. She has even created beautiful custom medallions that have been offered by dog clubs as trophies.

Louise’s sculpture entitled, “Multum in Parvo.”

Louise has won more than 100 awards for her work and is represented by more than a dozen fine art galleries in the United States and the United Kingdom. You can see more of her work at her website at www.danesculptor.com.