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What started as a fun side project has now become a part of a better cause, said Penny Bolton, owner of Penny’s Closet, a clothing boutique in Murfreesboro, and a board member of the Beesely Foundation, a local nonprofit that provides affordable spaying and neutering programs.

Growden painted a portrait of Bolton’s dog, Muffy, a few month ago. In the painting, Muffy’s ears stand at attention above her curious eyes in an expression that perfectly captures the animal’s personality, Bolton said. The gold and purple hues of the portrait are reminiscent of the work of recently deceased George Rodrigue, an American Cajun painter best known for his Blue Dog series.

“We love our portrait of Muffy,” Bolton said, adding that she adopted the dog after her sister, Nina Rhody, died almost a year ago. “Within probably a month we had fallen in love with this sweet little dog. … We thought we loved our cats until we got our dog.”

Bolton was so pleased with the portrait that she asked Growden to man a booth with his painting at Paws and Pearls from 6 to 8 p.m. on May 8 at The Corners on the River in Readyville, and he obliged, she said. Tickets to Paws and Pearls are $65, and proceeds go to the Beesley Foundation. Additionally, Growden donated a 20-by-20-inch pup portrait valued at $250 to be auctioned at the event.

Growden said he is happy to help the cause, but his greatest joy comes from the reaction owners have when they see their pets on a canvas.

“I’ve had people cry and clap their hands and laugh,” Growden said. “I just love that moment.”

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Information from: The Daily News Journal, http://www.dnj.com