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  • Writer's pictureKevin Roeckl

Cooper, Addie, and Rio portrait in progress 9

I spent an entire workday just on Cooper's eyes and eyebrows. The eyes are the most important part of any portrait....

Closeup of black Doberman in portrait of SAR Dobermans, in progress

The next day...

Cooper’s head finished, except for the collar. This photo was taken in the studio, it shows the pencil colors I was using. White paper covers the right and bottom of the portrait to keep it clean. I work down from the upper left because I'm right-handed.

There are two depictions of Cooper in this triple portrait

of Karen’s Search-and-Rescue dogs. One full-body standing in his SAR vest in the field, and this head study. I want to share with you the words Karen wrote about this outstanding Doberman....

Portrait of Search-and-Rescue Dobermans, in progress in the studio with pencils

Before I start on a portrait, I ask the client to tell me about their loved one, so I can hold the essence of them in my mind/heart as I’m working on their face. I know it’s not easy to tell about a beloved dog who has passed — that can be pretty emotional. It’s amazing how much difference that makes for me when I’m working on a dog’s portrait, to really SEE them. I see who they are, in their face. An artist has to truly see what they are portraying before they can truly capture it.


CH Heartwood’s Hot Night Boogie, CGC, ROM, RA, SAR AIR SCENT, SAR HRD

In Karen’s words:

Gentle giant. He would lay down and just use his head to play with a 9 pound Yorkie who adored him. When I got my mini poodle he was all of two pounds. Cooper would hold a tug toy and let him tug for all he was worth. He grew to 18 pounds and tugs like he thinks he’s a Doberman, but 95 pound Cooper NEVER tugged back. He would walk and hold the tug and let that poodle wear himself out. I think he lightly growled just to let the poodle think he was tough stuff.

Cooper was intensely loyal and trusted me beyond all reason. If I asked him to climb open steel stairs to the top of a fireman practice tower, he did. If I asked him to do a “hot load” on a helicopter, he didn’t even question and hopped right on.

He was a talker and had an opinion on everything. He even grunted opinions.

He was an EXCELLENT Search and Rescue Air Scent dog. And also phenomenal as a Human Remains Detection dog. Athletic and extremely smart. He was a joy to train. I was so proud of him.

He had a lot of dignity. The “bully” golden retriever on the team NEVER picked on him. Cooper wouldn’t start a fight but he was no push over. If a dog jumped him, he didn’t back down.

He’d give at least 5 warning growls to obnoxious in his face dogs. If they still kept at him, he’d viciously put them on the ground and pin them. He sounded and looked as though he was killing the dog, and the other dog would be screaming like he thought he was being killed. But we NEVER EVER found a scratch on the other dog. After that they respected him! He never held a grudge.

He was an over the top ball maniac. That was what I always used as the ultimate reward. In between he got to tug.

As well, he had a sense of humor. One time as we were waiting for our next team assignment on a search, we were standing on a hill of snow. He slid down it on his tummy. I thought he had slipped. But he came running back up the hill, a huge Dobie smile on his face, and continued to slide down again and again.

He enjoyed doing the Lost But Found program at the schools. He had no problem with kids in a circle around him petting. A lot of dogs will not allow that closed in feeling.

He was an affectionate sweet boy.

Meanwhile, he also had a Rally Advanced title as well as passed the WAC with surprisingly strong protection instinct. He had his championship. You can say, he was the ultimate all round Doberman.

Gads, do I miss the “ Big Baluga “. He was just about 14 years old when he died.

CH Heartwood’s Hot Night Boogie,



P.S. I’m one of those people that can’t talk about my dogs passing when it happens. Just writing this today has me choked up.

Closeup of two depictions of a black Doberman in a triple portrait of Search-and-Rescue Dobermans, in progress

This is how the whole portrait looks now:

Colored pencil portrait of Search-and-Rescue Dobermans, in progress


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