Karen Spidle and Natahnee Miller were volunteering for a local animal rescue when they founded Cheddar Paws Dog Art. In August of 2019, they were brainstorming ideas to help a shelter dog who was not doing well. They wanted to bring attention to the dog that would lead to their adoption. So, Natahnee created her very first dog painting, and Cheddar Paws was born. That week, they developed the creative idea to paint dogs’ portraits, promote them to help them get adopted and spread the word of animal rescue through social media networking.
The name Cheddar Paws Dog Art was chosen because Natahnee, who is not only a painter but also a dog trainer, uses cheese as her high-value reward during training. So, Karen put the two together and came up with Cheddar Paws Dog Art for a catchy name that was easy to remember. Next came a logo, which was designed by a HACC student for a school project. For their mascot, they chose Karen’s dog, Lyla. As of January 7th, 2023, Cheddar Paws has painted 300 shelter dogs. Of those, about 75% have been adopted and others are still waiting on their forever homes. There are currently twelve artists in the group including Karen and Natahnee.
Karen said they have painted dogs from Pennsylvania all the way down to Louisiana. “Any shelter in the U.S. is more than welcome to reach out to us at any time to receive a painting for a dog in need or who is struggling to get adopted,” she said. Once, they painted a dog, Keira, from Take Paws Rescue in Louisiana. After receiving no adoption interest, Keira was transferred to LINK (Louisiana Imagine No Kill) along with her painting. Sadly, she still received no interest at LINK. From there, she went to a rescue in New Jersey, Your New Best Friend. There, Keira was finally adopted. The day her family gave Keira her long-awaited home, they received her painting as a gift.
Cheddar Paws has helped dozens of our shelter animals, like Freight, get adopted. Freight arrived to us on August 12th, 2021, with one of the most severely embedded collars we’ve ever seen. He was very underweight, covered with open skin sores, and needed immediate surgery and antibiotics. It took our behavioral team several weeks to gain his trust. Eventually, Freight decompressed and began showing his true, loving self. In September 2022, Freight had been with us for over a year when we finally found a foster home where he could learn how to be a healthy, happy dog outside of the shelter environment. While Freight was living in his amazing foster home, Karen painted his portrait. Freight was in our care for 15 months, and just a few weeks after Karen painted him, he got adopted. Since November, Freight has been thriving in his forever home and we’re so grateful to Cheddar Paws for helping make that possible. From the bottom of our hearts and paws, we thank Cheddar Paws Dog Art for how you’ve impacted not only our shelter animals, but hundreds of others as well.
The portrait of Freight.
The photo that inspired Freight's portrait.
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