He Will Draw Your Dog

Artist turns hobby into fundraiser for shelters and rescues
By Lisa Wogan, February 2011, Updated June 2021
Jack Russell Terrier drawing from 2000, and Paul Atzmiller at his drawing table.

Now that he’s retired from his full-time job as a software test manager at Lockheed Martin, Paul Atzmiller makes pencil drawings of all types of animals, especially dogs. It’s been a hobby for over 35 years. But in the last 23 years, that hobby turned into something more.

“Way back in late 1997, some of my co-workers saw my animal drawings in my module at work and asked if I would draw their dogs,” the Littleton, Colo., artist says. “After drawing about a dozen or so for free, I thought maybe I could make some money for local animal shelters by drawing dogs for donations. Thus, my ‘I Will Draw Your Dog’ fundraiser was born.”

It works like this: People take good quality photos of their dog’s face, send them to Atzmiller, and he creates a free, 9-by-12-inch, black-and-white, highly detailed pencil drawing. He sends the finished drawing to the owners and, in lieu of any personal payment, he requests they make a financial donation (in the amount of their choosing) to the shelter/rescue group they want to support. Note: He accepts a maximum of two dogs per owner, and only dogs, no cats.

It works on the honor system.

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There is no obligation to send a specific amount, or even to make a donation at all. And Atzmiller makes no effort to ensure a donation was sent. It’s not about policing behavior; it is about inspiring good works and good feelings.

“I really enjoy helping these wonderful groups and it gives me a great feeling to know that so many people who support these organizations think highly enough of my talent to donate money for my drawings,” he says.

From what he knows, donations from his art have supported at least nine shelters and rescue groups, including the MaxFund, Golden Retriever Freedom Rescue, Golden Retriever Rescue of the Rockies (GRRR), Have Paws Will Travel, Colorado Humane Society, Rottweiler Rescue, Friends of Retired Greyhounds, Denver Dumb Friends League and National Canine Cancer Foundation. 

He’s raised over $45,000 since he started in 1998, and even had one grateful dog owner donate $1,000 each to GRRR for two of his drawings. As of 2021, Atzmiller has drawn 738 dogs for owners across the U.S. has even gone  “International”, by drawing for dog owners in Great Britain.
 
Atzmiller hopes his fundraising concept will motivate other artistically inclined dog lovers to help their favorite dog group.

You can contact Paul Atzmiller by email at p.atzmiller@msn.com.

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Photo of Paul Atzmiller by his brother, Noel Atzmiller.

Lisa Wogan lives in Seattle and is the author of several books including Dog Park Wisdom.