WEST FARGO — Quick! Pick up your phone and look at your camera roll. If you're a dog or cat lover, there's a very good chance you have more photos of your pet than you do of your family.
According to a new study by Rover.com, an organization that matches up dog owners with dog sitters, approximately 65 percent of dog owners admit to taking more photos of their furry friend than their spouse and almost half (47 percent) say they have a harder time leaving their dog for a week than their human partner.
As the teenage crooner Donny Osmond used to lament, "Puppy Love" is very real.
Of course, Donny might have been talking about a teenage crush, but millions of Americans take puppy love more literally. According to another study by Petfoodindustry.com, 96% of Americans consider their pets to be a real member of the family. And some want to take it to the next level — by graduating from cute cellphone photos to custom-made pet portraits done by pet moms and dads.
On May 19, Creatively Uncorked in West Fargo is hosting Paint Your Pet, a class that helps participants create a personalized painting of their animal while enjoying a beverage or two. (You, not the dog, unless she's into that kind of thing.)
"Everybody loves their pet," says Shanna Cramer, Creatively Uncorked's owner. "We've been doing Paint Your Pet for about five years and it just keeps getting stronger."
Shanna agreed to give me, my features reporter colleague Emma Vatnsdal and Emma's mom, Mary Vatnsdal, a chance to try it out. Watch our video on inforum.com to see how we did. (Here's a hint: Mary is a high school art teacher. Art talent appears to run in the family, and there's a reason I make my living by writing rather than painting.)
How it works
The first step is to get registered. Creatively Uncorked has two studios — one in downtown Fargo that caters to anyone 6 years of age and up, and another in West Fargo for those 21 and older. Both spaces can host parties, team-building events and classes. But because cocktails are sold at this Paint Your Pet class, we'll be painting at the West Fargo location, 715 13th Ave. E.
After getting registered, you'll be asked to send a photo of your pet so artists can pre-sketch the animal on the canvas. Phew! It's not quite paint by numbers, but at least it's not freehand. The pencil sketch really helps guide you through the process.
Also guiding you through the process is your teacher, who is with you for the entire class. We had Maddie Salander, who was patient, funny and super talented. I know this because she agreed to step in and paint me out of trouble with my dog painting more than once.
Speaking of our dogs, Emma chose to paint her miniature schnauzer, Chieftain, while I painted my golden retriever and Labrador retriever mix, McKenna. The two canines most recently appeared in another episode of "The Scoop" about grooming pets for spring. We're pretty sure their sudden fame is going to their heads.
Maddie starts class with a speech.
"We only have two rules," she says with a big smile on her face. "Rule No. 1 is have fun. Rule No. 2 is no negativity."
I had a little trouble following the last rule as I looked at the artwork done by Emma and Mary. But both Shanna and Maddie encouraged us not to compare our work to others. It's just a chance to get out with friends and do something different.
"You don't need to be nervous at all," Shanna says. "We set this up for beginners. With Paint Your Pet, it helps if you've painted before, but it's not necessary. We can walk you through it."
Before we picked up our brushes to get started, Maddie welcomed us to grab a drink (with or without alcohol) at the bar and offered a warning: "We use nontoxic, water-soluble acrylic paint. We tell you that in case you accidentally drink your paint cup instead of your beverage."
"Does that happen a lot, as the wine starts to flow?" I ask.
"It happens more than you think," Maddie explains. "I've seen people dip their brushes in their drink. I've seen it all."
I decided to stick to drinking Diet Coke.
Our three-hour class went by in a flash, even with Maddie having to take the time to assist us in bringing our creations to life. I think my painting turned out pretty cool. My family seemed to like it and were even a little surprised that I was the artist. The dog was mostly just impressed with the smell of it.
The bottom line is I aced Maddie's No. 1 rule: Have fun.
Doing art has always made me nervous because I judge myself. But after a few hours and many laughs, I realized it's exactly what Maddie said it would be — "This isn't fine art. It's fun art!"
To register for the Paint Your Pet class on May 19, or to learn about other classes or how to book your own event, visit the Creatively Uncorked website at www.creativelyuncorked.com.