Kelcee takes first, but animal charities true winners

By Curtis Riggs | October 15, 2008

Budge donates $2,500 to Humane Society
CAVE CREEK – Wildlife painter Linda Budge not only doubled the number of entries for her Dog Days of August essay contest this year, she raised $2,500 for the Arizona Humane Society, which desperately needed it after its facility near South Mountain was heavily damaged in a summer monsoon.

Linda BudgeBudge, who took her August contest statewide this year and turned it into a bona fide non-profit charity organization, raised $4,800 for Arizona animal charities (Foothills Animal Rescue $435). Contest entrants write the $20 checks for their entry fees to the animal charity of their choice. Entry fees not specified and cash entries go to the Arizona Humane Society. 

Gilbert Airedale Kelcee and her owner/writer Pan Vander Heyden won a framed oil painting of Kelcee, painted by Budge, as first prize in this year’s contest. Vander Heyden took top honors for a story entitled “A Stool Chicken, Silenced” she wrote about Kelcee’s reaction to a stuffed toy chicken. The framed Budge painting is valued at $2,700.

Budge, who is known as the Master of Expression for bringing painted animals to life, was challenged by where to place the damaged chicken, which had its insides ripped out by Kelcee, in the painting so it would not distract from the contest winner. She ended up putting the chicken in a position of defeat at the feet of the dog that exhibits triumph in the painting.
“It’s a celebration because it captures her personality,” Budge said about the painting of Kelsee.

Now that she has doubled the number of contests entries to 130 this year, she is focusing on tripling the contest entries next year by expanding it to Arizona cities like Prescott, Flagstaff and Sedona.

“Now we are able to look at sponsors and offer more programs,” she said.

Photo: Linda Budge presents her 2008 Dog Days of August painting to winners Pam Vander Heydon and Airedale Kelcee last week.
Photo by Curtis Riggs