Famous dying golden retriever dies of cancer days after top artist painted him

A terminally-ill golden retriever who shot to fame thanks to his bucket list has succumbed to cancer days after being painted by an illustrious artist. The dog, called Theo, was committed to canvas by Chicago artist Cheryl Cook, best known in the city as a courtroom sketcher for famous criminal trials.

Cook was so moved by Theo’s story – which saw him abandoned by his owner, before being fostered and completing an amazing bucket list during his final months – that she decided to give his foster mother Jenny Leach a gift to remember him by.

Working from a photograph of Theo, Cook painted a stunning likeness of the golden retriever, which she then auctioned for a local animal charity. It was bought for $1,000 by well-wisher Carlene Pittman, who immediately donated it to Leech and her husband, just days before Theo’s death.

Speaking of her delight at receiving the painting, Leech told CBS Chicago: ‘You know, I was just looking at the picture online, and every time I look at it, it captures him so beautifully. It’s, it’s him.’

Explaining what prompted her to paint Theo in the first place, Cook said the dog’s story had reminded her just ‘how good people can be.’

She added: ‘I’d really like to do something. And the one thing I do all the time is paint and draw.’

Theo’s portrait now hangs in the Leech’s home, as a reminder of the much-loved dog they rescued in July. Theo’s original owner, who has not been named, brought the dog to his local pound and claimed he’d found him outside a shop.

It later emerged he had become unable to care for Theo, but was too embarrassed to tell rescue staff the truth. The dad never told his son what had happened to Theo – but the boy was able to see Theo again to say goodbye after his old pet’s story became an internet sensation.


Theo’s final few months saw him complete an ever-more extravagant bucket list, which included play dates, becoming an honorary police officer and firefighter, drinking some special doggy beer and even meeting an Elvis impersonator.

Theo also dressed up with some other dogs to re-enact a Scooby Doo adventure, won the lottery, and visited a farm, all while being given delicious treats to keep his energy levels up.

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