Artist creates portrait of recovery dog who helped them through addiction treatment

Teague the recovery dog
Posted at 7:22 PM, Apr 08, 2022

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (WTVF) — There's no doubt, these past two years have been tough. When we're faced with the hardest days of our lives, it's hard to get through it alone. One artist has found you can find help in even the most unexpected places. It's a story of recovery and all who lead us there.

"I love eyes. I'm very good at eyes," said Aerin Williams, paintbrush in hand. Aerin painted eyes with various expressions onto a large canvas. "They are windows to the soul."

There's a contrast between Aerin's colored pencil and acrylic paint artwork and the fact Aerin finds eye contact difficult.

"Loneliness is something I've struggled with my whole life," Aerin said. "I pretty much had social anxiety and still do."

What helps is the art.

"It became a way for me to connect with people," Aerin said.

Two years ago, the loneliness became too much. With the COVID shutdowns, Aerin's once-busy city was so often empty. Work was suddenly from home. It was a forced isolation.

"The addiction just spun totally out of control," said Aerin. "It was alcohol and narcotics. I knew I was dying, and I did not want to die."

Aerin knew there was somewhere they had to go. Aerin entered alcohol and drug treatment center, Cumberland Heights. They were taken by something printed on the front of a handbook, 'addiction is a disease of isolation.'

"I had to have other people or I did not have a chance," Aerin said.

For someone with social anxiety, the group sessions weren't easy. Maybe someone could help.

"Yes, Teague helped a lot," laughed Aerin. "Teague is here for emotional support."

Teague is a recovery dog for Cumberland Heights.

"Everybody loves him," said Cumberland Heights counselor Michelle Johnson. "He is the bomb dot com. The patients say they're taking him home, but they have to fight me to get him out of here."

Teague's the best bud of everyone there, but for Aerin, Teague is actually something even more.

"Teague made it easier to be with people because he's such a huge source of stress relief and love," said Aerin.

Aerin doesn't do portraits of anyone they know. However, they made an exception. Aerin created a portrait of Teague and gifted it to Cumberland Heights.

"That attention to detail and to capturing him, it was a bid at connecting with the staff and other people here by illustrating something that we all love," said Aerin. "One of the things I've learned in recovery so far is even though I'm not the person I want to be today, I can still love the person that's sitting here. I'm a year and three months sober now. [The portrait] was a massive thank you to the people who made it possible for me."

So, in the portrait of Teague, what do the eyes say?

"Says I'm here for you," Aerin answered. "I'm going to be here no matter what."

Aerin would like to thank both Cumberland Heights and Healing Housing in Franklin for leading them to recovery.