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Izzy, therapy chihuahua

Izzy and Gamble: The Story of Dogs in Service

Making sawdust sure feels good sometimes.

Don’t get me wrong- it’s always pretty fun. But it’s something special when what I’m making is telling someone’s story. This summer, I had two custom orders that carried with them significant meaning. Both pieces featured dogs- if you follow me on Facebook or Instagram you know that’s nothing unusual. I make a lot of dogs. In fact, most of my pieces are inspired by rescue dogs. Rescued wood- rescued dogs… it’s kind of my thing.

But these two pups, Izzy and Gamble, they’re different.

they are the ones who rescue.

Gamble is in training to become a service dog. Izzy is a therapy dog.

Tell me, when you think of a therapy dog, what comes to mind? Maybe this?


Izzy, therapy chihuahua


Meet Izzy.

Izzy is the physician-prescribed therapy dog of Marissa, a beautiful soul. (And no, a chihuahua isn’t the first canine breed to pop into my mind either.) Intelligent, kind and creative, Marissa is plagued by anxiety and panic attacks. If you’ve ever experienced anything like that, you know just how life-altering it can be. However, Izzy can bring calm like nothing else. This little pint-sized pup has changed Marissa’s life. This gal is going places, friends. She’s a brilliant chemistry student, passionately working toward her PhD.


Izzy, asleepThose ears, though.

Marissa has gone to great lengths to keep Izzy by her side- even to the point of losing her housing. Talk about stress! But she’s a fighter. She tackled the stigma of mental illness, the shade thrown by local media, and this girl fought for her rights.

She’s long wanted a piece of art that represented Izzy, and how much she loved her. I can’t begin tell you how honored I was when she asked me to make it. Together we chose the shape, and she already knew what colors she wanted.

Close up of chihuahua piece
foot detail of chihuahua piece

It was so rewarding to make! And I must say, the piece turned out beautifully.


Long haired chihuahua made from reclaimed wood, in blues and purples

It’s now home, hanging on Marissa’s wall. Seeing a snapshot of it made me smile- and cry a little. It’s profoundly humbling to create with your own hands a work that reflects someone’s heart. With scrap wood and paint, no less.

And now, Gamble.

After their long-loved beagle crossed the Rainbow Bridge, Kellie (another beautiful soul) and her family really missed having a pup. They came to the decision to take part in training a service dog; and after contacting Paws With A Cause, they found themselves with this guy.

Gamble, service dog in trainingIsn’t he adorable?

The family understood the terms- they’d have him for 6 months, then return him for his next stage of training. There, he’d spend phase two in a correctional facility training with inmates. After a third, more specialized training period, he would then be ready to go to his forever home as a service dog.

As you can imagine, Gamble stole their hearts. He chewed their shoes. And before they could blink, those 6 months had passed.

Gamble, the black lab, as a puppy.


Knowing they day was approaching, Kellie asked if I would make a black lab for her. (Umm, of course!)

reclaimed wood boards


the black lab I made for Kellie

Kellie is generous-hearted, talented, and a go-getter. Her family is a pretty great group of people. They’ve poured so much energy and love into Gamble- all for the benefit of someone they’ll likely never meet. It was such an honor to make this piece for them. When she saw it for the first time, she cried. I cried. (Oh my word, pass the Kleenex, will you?)

I drove away thinking about these two – Kellie and Marissa. And their pups. Though Izzy and Gamble have very different roles, I found it interesting to glimpse into their situations. The service dog in training, and the therapy dog at work. The family who lays the groundwork, and the woman who benefits in the end.

I really love making special pieces that tell someone’s story. Your’s is unique.  Is there something you’d like me to make for you? Let’s talk!