Kona’s Story

This drawing of a dog caught my eye way back in 2003 I think it was, in a flea market.  It wasn’t thrift store pricing but not expensive – maybe $20?  It was signed and dated by artist John Nissan in 1990.  I googled his name and found him in Minneapolis.  The drawing wasn’t too far from it’s starting point, about 150 miles.


Sadly the water stain happened on “my watch”, probably because it hangs above the stove and it was steam.  Ugh!


Anyway, back to the story.  I made connections with John who told me the sad details.  The dog, who rescuers named Kona, was found neglected and badly abused and was taken away from the owners only to be returned through a glitch in the court system.  Eventually the rescuers did get him away from the owners but he was in poor condition and needed lots of medical attention.  I honestly can’t remember the details – I’m betting I forgot them on purpose.  His vet bills skyrocketed and to raise money, John did this drawing of Kona and raffle tickets were sold.  It seems that I remember prints being made but I’m not sure about that.


Just look at that smile!


I got to know John and asked if he’d come to Country Threads and draw Carly and Maggie for me and Lucy for Connie and yes, he would.  So in 2005 he visited us and took lots of pictures – then went home and painted these portraits for us.  


Lucy was a retrieving fanatic so that’s how he painted her – Connie has a piece of candy in her mouth – she’d want me to tell you that.  Maggie, the golden retriever, always pawed at you for more pets and Carly, the black lab mix, is shown with her favorite lion toy.

John took the Kona drawing out of the frame and signed it again in 2005.  When someone buys it at my estate sale, it’s too bad they’ll never know the whole story. —- unless I write it up and tape it to the back.


This corner of my kitchen has Susannah’s picture, Kona’s picture, Janey’s and many other beloved past pets.  


If you happen to see a dog picture at a thrift store, just know there’s a story behind it.

35 thoughts on “Kona’s Story

  1. Moe Baly

    Loved the story of Kona and especially love the paintings of Lucy, Maggie, and Carly. Wonderful treasures! You sent one of those lion toys to PD, when we took it out of the package she ran and jumped in circles tossing it into the air, it was the best thing she owned, for a long time it stayed nearby like a treasure. Merry Christmas to you and Connie!

    1. CountryThreads Post author

      Moe – I had forgotten that I sent a lion to PD! We still have a new one saved – up high – in Carly’s memory.

  2. Felicia Hamlin

    Great story Mary. Some people can be so cruel. Their punishment should be to do to them what they do to animals. Your animals are so lucky to have you.

  3. Kathy

    Such a wonderful story about Kona. I’m sure any rescue agency would love to have some back stories about their animals that are up for adoption. I vote that you put your story into a book and others can contribute their stories of adopted animals. It’s a good way to have the issue of adoption of shelter animals as a pet to be promoted. Our shelter just sent out a great offer for anyone wanting a pet. It is just $15 to adopt a cat, dog, rabbit for the holidays. I do hope those who want to adopt are screened as this low price might bring some sketchy persons on site. Thanks for updating me on the story of Kona and how you are enjoying all the animals in your kingdom. You have a fascinating life!

  4. Cynthia Sabinske

    Mary, Thank you for sharing your story about Koa! Very touching and love your story about the artist as well! How wonderful that he visited and I love the pictures he did for you as well. I love your artwork! Makes me wish I had walls to hanfpg up pictures where I wanted them like you have! I do not have a lot of wall space hipsters still have a few here and there! Yours are homey and cozy! Merry Christmas and Happy Sewing in the New Year! I have made two table runners in the sew along. Both gifted. Will make a couple more and hope to keep one for me at the end! Love reading your blog!

  5. Kathy

    Wow you always make me feel part of your life with your stories. Your heart just is the biggest I know of with all the love you give animals. I won’t ever pass up a pet picture now when I see one out.

  6. Sandra

    Thanks for sharing a great animal storyI give thanks for the creatures that I have loved and the cat that shares my home.Merry Christmas

  7. Barbara F.

    Enjoyed reading about Kona and the artist you connected with. Just like a quilt, this picture needs the story attached to the back of it. Someday, others will want to know Kona’s story and it will be nice to know that you cared enough to find out.

  8. Mary Says Sew!

    Mary, you just wrote Kona’s for us, so you can edit what you wrote here, print it, and attach it to the print.

    You could also photograph the pictures as they hang around your house, put the photos in a document, and write a note about each one. You don’t have to write much. It might help someone down the line know which animals lived with you, and where you got the rest of the pictures.

  9. Patty McDonald

    Love this story. John must be a nice guy drawing the picture to raise funds for this pups treatment. Hope she ended up with loving owners. Love the pictures around your stove. We have photos of our dogs on the fridge….no grand kids. I agree with Bobbie it is so nice of you to take us into your home as if we are old friends. Thank you.

  10. Bobbie

    That is such a sweet story. I to just love all the fur babies I’ve had in my life. I’m 71 now and only have a small chihuahua . She is over weight and barks at everything. But I love her to pieces. I make coats for her as she can be cold and shake like a leaf but doesn’t get under the covers. Everyone I’ve ever had loved there covers and would push under them. But not Penny she will just lay on top and shake. I have some pictures of her. I think I’ll get them and put them in my kitchen. I love you blog and read it every time. I live in Washington state but we come to Mesa, Arizona for the winters.
    I only started quilting 2 years ago and have made 17 quilts. Our park has a longarm. We get to use it for a really cheap price of only $25 per season. To say it gets a workout puts it mildly.
    I love the way you bring us into your home, it’s like we are old friends. I love seeing the animals. I love your snow but I’m glad I’m not there. I’m not a snow driver and I couldn’t go anywhere in the winter.
    Thank you for your wonderful blog.
    Bobbie

  11. Evelyn Haupert

    What a sweet story, but no ending? I hope it was a happy one. Did John wind up with Kona? And, you lamented about the water stain but returned the picture to once again hang above the stove?

  12. Julie

    Love your story! I haven’t picked up any animal prints such as you, but I’ve picked up old, crafted Christmas ornaments a time or two. Those lovely made by someone. I have old ones made with clothes pins and others made from felt. It makes me sad to think someone lovely made them for someone else, only to have them pitched. So, I take them home and they hang on my tree. Guests probably think they’re from my relatives, but they’re not. I also have a rescued Sun Bonnet Sue quilt that I once climbed into a dumpster to retrieve. Its well loved and thread bare in places, the top edge has been mended by adding another layer of fabric, but I love it. I don’t quilt, but want to, but I do cross stitch and I know the time and money that goes into hand made pieces.

  13. Noël

    I think you should take some time today and write the story on the back! No time like the present! 😁

  14. Martha Engstler

    Your story inspires me to write a little story to put with the picture of my dog that I had to put down around 20 years ago. I have a beautiful photo done by a professional and framed. Thanks for your kindness to so many animals in need

  15. Pamela

    Nice to read your stories. While I love pets, I do not have the patience, money, Energy nor space to have more than one kitty. Merry Christmas!

  16. Kelley

    I loved your story. I have been wanting portraits done of my dogs too. I had bought a nice print from an artist in Hawaii that I had met and I made sure I wrote the story of the picture and taped it to the back. What sweet memories.

  17. Donna from Oz

    How’s come I get tears from so many of your posts? Quite a story. Thank God there are kind and caring people out there. You are one of them.

  18. Pam

    Lovely story! So good of you to follow it through to the source. Somehow seems appropriate for Christmastime. Thanks for sharing your stories and life with all of us. Merry Christmas to you and yours.

  19. MartyCae

    There is nothing better than the sweet expression on a dog’s face. Thanks so much for sharing the story. It made my day.

  20. Maryjane in CA

    How wonderful you researched that painting – quite a story. The paintings of your and Connie’s dogs are super! What treasures. Makes me realize I should write up my dog’s stories and put them on the back of their big pics and paintings. Who knows where they’ll end up someday. All these sweet animals moving through our life need to be honored and remembered.

  21. Holly

    I’m hoping there was a happy ending for Kona and he found a loving home at last. It’s a lovely painting of a hopeful dog who has seen too much misery.

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