The Story of Good Dog Zip

This is the story of Zip, a young wire haired Jack Russell Terrier from a good family.


It is a sad one, because handsome Zip became very ill and had to be put down.

I made a life-size memorial icon in his honor. I have made several of these, for beloved dogs who have gone to the Happy Hunting Grounds. Each one is a labor of love.

I begin with photos and drawings.


I had a lot from the time I knew him, but Google images contributed some generic Jack Russells for body detail.


I played around with poses, but decided on the classic “sit,” and made a life size drawing.


After rubbing graphite onto the back of the drawing, I transferred it to a board, cut it out with a saber saw, sanded and primed it.


I decided in the end to ‘flop’ Zip and paint him facing to the right.


After many hours, layers of paint, small brushes for his wiry hairs, a careful attention to his eyes and gaze  and several coats of matte varnish…


Zip looked back from the Mother Fern in my garden.

He now ‘lives’ with his family and helps to remind them everyday of their Good Dog Zip.

I have been making these animal portraits for many years. Here are a few more:


My sister’s beloved German Shepherd, Bear. Painted in 1990.


My mother’s Border Collie, Ben.

A gorgeous Maine Coon named Beauty was the beloved pet of friends in Sacramento, CA.

8 thoughts on “The Story of Good Dog Zip

      • Dorothy Coakley says:

        Boy, do I understand!
        When Sam, our Bernal library dog sent out her last sigh, eleven years after she had arrived in our household, I thought none of us would survive. It was clearly her time to pass over, but heartbreak knows no rationality. Slowly (over the course of three and a half years) we have morphed her memory into an ongoing tale…you see Sam/Shiva is not yet ready for the rest of us and simply refuses our admittance into Planet Dogbreath. So we (and the dogs’n cat of Casa Canine) must wait until she gets the place organized.

        Works for us, but I think a life-sized memorial might have been faster! You are a a magician! (Or shaman, take your pick!)


    • Mame, it was a labor of love. Molly the Great lives on…Zip’s mommy started talking to the icon immediately, and I don’t think it was just for my benefit. I think she needed someone to coo to, and this was next best thing.


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