LOCAL NEWS

Salt Lake City sculptor helps Smiley’s legacy live on

Mar 27, 2018, 4:41 PM | Updated: 9:38 pm

SALT LAKE CITY – There’s a certain amount of pressure to recreate something so special.

“Let’s see your little nose,” said Lena Toritch to a sculpture of a dog she was working on. “I usually talk to my statues when nobody is watching.”

Toritch has sculpted lots of dogs in her shop at the Young Fine Art Studio in Salt Lake City, but when it came time to sculpt Smiley, well, that’s real pressure. “Yes, it’s a responsibility. Everybody knows Smiley. Hopefully, he looks just like they remember him,” she said.

Smiley, who lived in Canada, was born without eyes and was set be euthanized in a puppy mill in 2004. He was adopted at the last minute, though, by the veterinarian technician who was supposed to euthanize him. Smiley became a therapy dog visiting schools and libraries to show children even though you might be different you can still overcome adversity.

“He makes me smile every time I start sculpting him,” said Toritch with a laugh.

Smiley was a social media star in Canada with hundreds of thousands of people following his story when he died this past October. Even Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau met Smiley before the dog passed away from cancer. Smiley’s story was shared around the world and his statue will be placed outside the library in his hometown of Stouffville, Ontario.

“I’m sure kids will be touching his nose,” said Toritch. However, before the sculpture went to be bronzed in Lehi, it had to get final approval from Smiley’s owners. When Joanne George and her son Shepherd saw the sculpture for the first time, they started crying. “Oh, hey buddy,” said Joanne with a sniff as she pet the dog as if he were alive. “This is amazing.” The nose, the ears, even his paw held up to shake, this was Smiley.

“We didn’t teach him many tricks because when you’re this cute you don’t have to do tricks. But we did teach him to shake,” said Joanne with a smile. “He changed peoples’ lives and got people through really tough times. I keep getting messages from them since he passed away. He was important to a lot of people all over the world.”

Before giving approval, Joanne and Shepherd put their name and initials in Smiley’s base. It’s something for people to see and talk about in the future. “That was his great-grandchildren can one day come here and say that’s my great-grandfather. Smiley was his dog,” said Joanne. However, the reason for their visit wasn’t only to give approval of the sculpture, it was also to introduce their new puppy, Sunny, to Smiley.

“What’s that,” Joanne asked him playfully as she held Sunny up to the sculpture and it began sniffing its nose.

Sunny is also a golden retriever, and like Smiley was also born without eyes. “To carry on Smiley’s legacy and lessons,” said Joanne.

KSL 5 TV Live

Top Stories

Local News

...
Jed Boal

‘Resist Death’: UHP campaign urges Utahns to curb DUI deaths

Troopers are urging all Utahns to “resist death” and make good choices before they get behind the wheel as the state sees another annual increase in DUI-related deaths ahead of Independence Day.
18 hours ago
...
Eliza Pace

Husband of Bluffdale mayor charged with assault, stalking, threats to opponent

Jason C. Hall, the spouse of current Bluffdale Mayor Natalie Hall, was charged with multiple counts related to threats against Bluffdale City councilman Jeff Gaston.
18 hours ago
Fourteen Utah law enforcement agencies are working dozens of extra shifts to catch speeders, drunk ...
Cary J. Schwanitz, KSL TV

Hundreds of extra patrols swarm Utah highways to make holiday weekend travel safer

Thursday kicked off the 4th of July holiday weekend and 90% of Americans traveling this weekend are doing so on the roads.
18 hours ago
(Courtesy: Hogle Zoo)...
Eliza Pace

New red panda joins Hogle Zoo

Utah's Hogle Zoo welcomed a new resident this week: a four-year-old female red panda, named Priya. 
18 hours ago
Bats are the leading cause of rabies deaths in people in the United States. Rabid bats have been fo...
Cary J. Schwanitz, KSL TV

State confirms rabies found in three Utah bats

The state of Utah confirmed on Thursday three cases of rabies so far this summer. The cases were found in bats in Salt Lake County, Weber County, and Washington County.
18 hours ago
(Karah Brackin/KSL TV)...
Karah Brackin

Delta pilots picket across the country as busy travel weekend begins

Dozens of Delta Air Lines pilots stood and marched outside the Salt Lake City International Airport Thursday, holding picketing signs and protesting contract negotiations.
18 hours ago

Sponsored Articles

hand holding 3d rendering mobile connect with security camera for security solutions...
Les Olson

Wondering what security solutions are right for you? Find out more about how to protect your surroundings

Physical security helps everyone. Keep your employees, clients, and customers safe with security solutions that protect your workplace.
Many rattan pendant lights, hay hang from the ceiling.Traditional and simple lighting....
Lighting Design

The Best Ways to Style Rattan Pendant Lighting in Your Home

Rattan pendant lights create a rustic and breezy feel, and are an easy way to incorporate this hot trend into your home decor.
Earth day 2022...
1-800-GOT-JUNK?

How Are You Celebrating Earth Day 2022? | 4 Simple Ways to Celebrate Earth Day and Protect the Environment

Earth Day is a great time to reflect on how we can be more environmentally conscious. Here are some tips for celebrating Earth Day.
Get Money Online...

More Ways to Get Money Online Right Now in Your Spare Time

Here are 4 easy ways that you can get more money online if you have some free time and want to make a little extra on the side.
Lighting trends 2022...

Lighting Trends 2022 | 5 Beautiful Home Lighting Trends You Can Expect to See this Year and Beyond

This is where you can see the latest lighting trends for 2022 straight from the Lightovation Show at the Dallas World Trade Center.
What Can't You Throw Away in the Trash...

What Can’t You Throw Away in the Trash? | 5 Things You Shouldn’t Throw in to Your Trash Can

What can't you throw away in the trash? Believe it or not, there are actually many items that shouldn't be thrown straight into the trash.
Salt Lake City sculptor helps Smiley’s legacy live on