One local artist is trying to make a difference — in the lives of homeless dogs, and charities.



As a pet lover and owner, Robin Wiesneth noticed all the homeless animals in shelters and began trying to think of something she could do to give back and make a difference.



As she browsed several rescue sites online and looked at pictures of animals, she began to paint some of the dogs.



Wiesneth, who is regularly commissioned to paint owner’s pets, has now finished six paintings of actual rescue dogs living in shelters or foster homes in the area. Each time she finishes a painting, she donates it to the organization sponsoring the dog, along with her permission to do with it as they will.



"They can raffle it, sell it at auction, or give it to the dog's new owner when adopted," said the artist. "However they feel they can best make money from it for the animals and organization."



She calls it her Dog Stalking Project.



"I've had a lot of fun with this Dog Stalking project so far," said Wiesneth.



The artist plans to paint at least two dogs a month and more as time allows. Most painting are 11 by 14 or 8 by 10 inches.



At this time, she is focusing primarily on photos of dogs at the Walton County Animal Shelter, and this has involved several small rescue groups so far including Animal Rescuers of Florida, H.E.A.R.T. Animal Rescue, and The Rescued Rescuers.



"I love dogs," said Wiesneth, even though she is a cat owner.



Wiesneth said she is not sure why she chooses to paint dogs instead of cats, but it might be due to her owning cats while growing up, or it could be because in her experience, dog owners have proven much more likely to purchase a painting of their pet than a cat owner.



One rescue dog she painted from its online picture was adopted by the time she finished. She was told the dog was adopted by visitors to the area and had headed home to Alabama. Wiesneth has donated that painting to the Destin Woman's Club to be raffled during its "Hats for Hope" event this weekend that will benefit Shelter House, which now allows its intakes to bring their pets with them. See www.destinwomansclub.org for more information. It will be at the table devoted to the new "Pet" program that Shelter House has started.



Another of Wiesneth's dog portraits making a public appearance is her "Boxing Doxie." Boxing Doxie is a painting she did for the Rescued Rescuers, a doxie rescue organization. Wiesneth digitized her rendering and the organization is using it on a T-shirt for its upcoming fundraiser at Hibiscus House in Grayton Beach on March 17. The T-shirts will be available for purchase.



Wiesneth has just committed to do another portrait for another rescue group.



Wiesneth also said she has two new rescue dogs on her easel at the moment, and she hopes to share them in the next week or so.