Kathleen McLaughlin
The Bulletin

What: ARTdog

What it does: holds process-oriented art classes for kids

Employees: none

Pictured: owner Sarah Brandt with her dogs, Sanders and Moon

Address: 19570 Amber Meadow Drive, Suite 130, Bend

Contact: 541-625-0253

Former school psychologist Sarah Brandt opened her southwest Bend art studio one year ago as a place where kids would benefit from the creative process.

She chose a name that reflected her mission: Creative Wellness Studio. But it didn’t quite capture the experience of making art alongside Brandt’s sidekick, a Bernese mountain dog named Sanders. She changed the name of the business to ARTdog in December.

“That was a point where I grew significantly,” Brandt said. “Part of that could’ve been the time of year. I think people were looking for more indoor activity. It was a name kids could remember and kids could talk to their friends about.”

As if to illustrate her point, Brandt was interrupted by Sanders and his recently adopted brother, Moon, barking at two kids riding by on their scooters. A moment later, the kids’ mother knocked on the door to find out whether the kids could drop in for ARTdog’s next summer camp.

Brandt spoke to The Bulletin about her experience opening the business. Her responses have been edited for length and clarity.

Q: What was your original concept for the business?

A: “So I was working in Denver as a school psychologist and a therapist in private practice. I always integrated a lot of art into my work with kids. I came out here with the intention of opening a space that was going to be part therapy, part art classes and bringing my dog. And it’s slowly morphed into the dog being … a centerpiece and … capturing the benefit of dogs interacting with us as well as the benefit of art. And then throwing out the therapy piece.”

Q: What can you tell us about Sanders?

A: “I got him when he was 8 weeks old. He is quite the character. He’s super-social and loves all kids and dogs. Just constantly is doing something to make kids laugh, giving kisses. He is a professional snack stealer.”

Q: What was your biggest challenge in opening the business?

A: “I moved out here and opened the business within a month of being here. I didn’t have the connections, and a business like this is very dependent on connections and word of mouth. So figuring out where to start and developing those inroads with the community was a challenge. It was a stressful first couple of months.”

Q: How has ARTdog grown?

A: “This upcoming school year I’m really pushing my after-school programming and expanding that with providing transportation (from Elk Meadow and Pine Ridge elementary schools). So, I see that being a really solid component of my programming. This summer I launched a mobile studio too. And so I’ve been popping up at different places in the community.”

Q: There are other places, including Base Camp Studio, and the Bend Park & Recreation District’s Art Station, where kids and adults can take classes, so how did you know there was a need for your business?

A: “When I found this space (in Brookswood Meadow Plaza), I found out that Elk Meadow was an arts-focused school. I took that to mean the community in this immediate area valued art. Then I found out that just in general the public schools here don’t offer a lot of art, and that’s been something kids don’t get on a regular basis. This part of town really needed a kid-oriented business, enrichment opportunity for kids.”

— Reporter: 541-617-7860, kmclaughlin@bendbulletin.com