Philadelphia is a city rich in history and culture. Our museums are world-renowned. Walking up Ben Franklin Parkway you will find yourself immersed in some of the best museums in the country and can even stumble into Rodin’s The Thinker statue. As you cruise through the city, you will notice murals everywhere and this is thanks in part to the Philadelphia Mural Arts Program, which is the largest public art program in the nation! Philadelphia is incredibly walker-friendly and pet-friendly. Owners and their furry companions can take in our amazing parks, people-watch while dining at amazing pet-friendly restaurants like PARC and can even visit dog-friendly attractions like the Philadelphia Magic Gardens. If you keep a keen eye, you will also notice that pets are featured in several public art pieces. To make the hunt a bit easier, we’ve compiled a list of our 5 favorite pieces of public art featuring man’s best friend!
“Gimme Shelter” by David Quinn
In the late-1800’s Philadelphia was overrun with stray animals and Elizabeth Morris felt something needed to be done. After being banned from her home by her father for bringing home too many animals, she dedicated her life to animal welfare. Around this time, Ms. Morris, affectionately nicknamed ‘Miss Kittie’ secured a donation from the Women’s Animal Rights league to start the nation’s first animal shelter. In the century that has passed, the Morris Animal Refuge has been a beacon for animal welfare.
In 2004, artist David Guinn raised money for the Morris Animal Refuge by selling raffle tickets. The winners of the raffle would have their pets painted into the beautiful mural you see above. You can see this beautiful piece, named “Gimme Shelter”, adorning the side of the Morris Animal Refuge on Lombard street. This mural is a part of the Philadelphia Mural Arts program’s ‘mural mile’ which features 17 of the city’s most iconic murals.
“Gamekeeper’s Night Dog” by Victoria Davila
As you are taking in all the culture that encompasses the Art Museum area, you might stumble upon a small parklet featuring a stately bullmastiff. Not the most famous bronze statue in the area (thanks Rocky), but definitely a gem in the cultural section of town. The Gamekeeper’s Night Dog was erected where it sits today in 1989 and has been a crowd favorite. While the full story of the dog isn’t full known, we do know that the statue was donated by Delaware Valley Bullmastiff Club member Edward H. Schwartz. After indulging the iconic Rocky steps scene, continue your journey over to say hello to the night dog right around the corner.
“Vive 77 Pup” by Bear 215
Last year local graffiti artist, Bear 215, completed his first mural. If you find yourself in South Philly, you might happen upon this portrait of his dog Brody. While the piece is not officially a part of the Mural Arts Program, it is a fun beautiful piece that celebrates our love for dogs. This mural covers the back of the building the houses local artist collective Vive 77. If you are a dog lover, this will certainly brighten up your day!
“Forever Home” by Chroma Dolls
Our next stop is a special double piece adorning the PAWS Northeast Adoption Center. This is a bit of a hike from Center City, but this piece is a perfect image of happy pets finding their home. Created in 2004 in collaboration with the Philadelphia Mural Arts Program, local artist duo Chroma Dolls painted pictures of animals who had found their furever home thanks to PAWS.
PAWS is an amazing organization that offers shelter and a low-cost clinic to the animals of Philadelphia. PAWS is a no-kill organization and has helped rescue hundreds of dogs and cats, while also providing affordable care to pet owners around the city.
Charlie F. Dog by EPHEMEROH
Our last piece is another piece of street art that can be found in the rapidly changing Fishtown/Kensington neighborhood. This wheatpaste piece by local street artist EPHEMEROH celebrates local social media personality Charlie F. Dog who is known for his appreciation of street art. Charlie’s page is filled with his explorations around different cities, posing in front of some of the best street art around. For this he’s earned himself a wonderful spot in the neighborhoods landscape.
“Welcome to Fishtown” by V.U.R.T.
While this article focused on the dogs, we are a pet care company that has love for all of our four-legged friends. This is why we cannot ignore this beautiful piece on Frankford Ave. V.U.R.T. is a local non-profit mural company that has created murals all over the city. This creation was a collaboration of V.U.R.T.’s founder Evan Lovett and famed street artist Glossblack. When Evan was creating the sign for his “Welcome to…” series, he thought, “Well, if I were a cat, I know I would want to hang around a neighborhood called ‘Fishtown’.”
As the weather gets nicer, we hope you have a lot of fun with your pet and take the opportunity to explore this beautiful cultural city. Whether you are visiting for the weekend or are a Philly lifer, there is always something to admire and love.