Pugs, People, Purpose … and Painting

Mike, AJ, and Gary

Back in May 2014, I volunteered to be a foster pug parent. In fairly short order, the permanent pug population at my house grew to four, at which point my ever-patient wife Denise drew a line in the sand. So, now being out of the fostering game, I looked for other volunteer opportunities, which are many and varied at DFW Pug Rescue Club of Texas.

When a person decides to adopt or foster for the first time, there’s an application process to be navigated—to ensure that the pugs find a safe and happy forever home. The process includes a visit by one of our volunteers to the home of the applicant.

It was on one of these home visits that I first met Mike Salcido and his family.

Mike is an artist, a painter who specializes in colorful abstracts. He and Gary, his partner of 20 years, are avid collectors, and it was that love of art that inspired Mike to start painting at the age of 30. By his own description it was a “chaotic” time in his life, and he hoped that the painting would serve as a calming influence.

“Renewed Growth” by Mike Salcido

It did, and what started out as a hobby became a way of life. From that first effort—a small 11” x 12” painting he titled “Alive”—grew a line of big, bold works that vibrate with color and movement. Mike strives for paintings that speak to viewers in a very personal way; each person seeing—and feeling—something different from another person, and experiencing a sense of connection with the artist himself.

I knew none of that when I knocked on the door of Mike’s home. I only knew that he had applied to adopt a pug. Because…

Mike and his family are also dog lovers.

Earlier that year, their pug Gizmo had crossed the Rainbow Bridge, leaving the void that all dog owners experience when they lose a beloved family member. Gizmo’s buddies, 13-year old Chihuahua “Orlando”, and 8-year old terrier mix “Dexter”, also lost a treasured companion.

Rocky before adoption

Another facet of Mike’s warm and loving nature is that he donates 10% of the purchase price of each of his paintings to the charity of the buyer’s choice. A recent purchaser picked DFW Pug Rescue as the donation recipient, specifically requesting that Mike’s contribution go toward the medical expenses of one particular pug named “Li’l Rocky”, who was in desperate condition.

Not only did Mike gladly make the contribution, but he and his family decided to adopt Rocky. After Rocky’s treatment was complete, he joined the Salcido household.

It has long been my experience that there is no more grateful creature on Earth than a rescued pet, and no better an environment for recovery than a loving home. That’s what Mike, Gary, their daughter AJ, Orlando, and Dexter all gave to Rocky. A year and half after the adoption, Mike reports that Rocky has made a full recovery. The lucky pug loves treats, rides in the car, and sleeping. “He’s the loudest snoring pug I’ve ever been around!”

Matt and Grace at “Casa Lago”

Since 2011, Mike and his gang have spent most weekends at a cabin on a small lake in East Texas—a retreat they call “Casa Lago.” A pair of swans named “Matt” (formerly Matilda, until they decided she was a he) and “Grace” drift on the calm waters while Mike creates his art in his studio there. He says, “The act of creation makes me feel a sense of calmness and joy that I couldn’t achieve in the hectic world.”

I consider myself blessed to have met Mike and his family, and to have played a very small part in finding a forever home for Rocky.

You can view Mike’s paintings at www.mikesalcido.com and connect with him on Facebook at www.facebook.com/ArtbySalcido.

Best friends: Orlando, Rocky, and Dexter

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