John + Ludwig

Louisville, Kentucky

Artist and poet John Brooks met his four-legged friend Ludwig after moving back home to Louisville from stints in Chicago and London.  Primarily a painter, John works in a variety of media, including collage and sculpture.  Creating work focusing on themes of contemplation and emotion, it seems only fitting that his pensive pooch has a complex personality and his own distinct ideas on life.  Ludwig is a thinker, and John wouldn't have it any other way! 

Take a peek at the life of this passionate painter and his pensive poodle, featuring accessories (and snacks!) from Beast + Babe and Bocce's Bakery.

WHO is the special pup in your life?

Ludwig - named after the German artist Ernst Ludwig Kirchner.  He is a Standard Poodle who will be 2 in October.

WHEN (and how) did you first meet Ludwig?

 In autumn 2013 my partner Erik and I moved back to Louisville from Chicago, where we had been living in a dogless Mies van der Rohe high rise, and we knew that we wanted to add a dog to our lives.  We both like big dogs but also have bad allergies, so our options were limited.  There was definitely a time in my life when I would have said "No way I'd be a gay man with a poodle!" but the more I learned about the breed the more I knew that a Standard Poodle was the right choice.  We researched responsible breeders in the region and found the fantastic Jan of Delta Poodles in Cincinnati.  She has been showing and breeding for decades and it was so obvious upon our first telephone conversation and our first meeting that her poodles are absolutely the center of her life.  We had to pass a rigorous process to be considered!  There were two boys born into the litter and when they were six weeks old we went to meet them.  Identifying ribbons were tied around their necks: "Blue Boy" was very shy and afraid of us but "Yellow Boy" (Ludwig) came right to us and seemed genuinely interested in us, so he was the one for us.  Or, really, we were the ones for him.

WHAT is the best thing about Ludwig?

Ludwig is a tremendous assistant - he loves to be with me wherever I am, be it in the shower, the kitchen or the studio. In the studio I often give him pieces of cardboard to rip up - for some reason he loves to do this and takes it as seriously as he takes every other activity.  Last summer I included some of his cardboard fragments in an installation.  He also serves as my clock - if he is tired, I should be working.  If he isn't tired, I shouldn't be working.

WHERE is your favorite place to go with Ludwig?

Ludwig loves to go anywhere, especially if it involves a ride in the car.  I don't think he particularly enjoys being in the car but he loves the idea of adventure and new places.  We walk daily in Cherokee Park, a fantastic park designed by Frederick Law Olmsted and recently spent a few days at a swanky Nashville hotel where Ludwig loved riding the elevator and being the center of attention in the lobby. 

WHY is Ludwig your best friend?

Ludwig's faithfulness is so impressive.  This is the thing about dogs, isn't it?  We humans are sensitive, fickle beings but a dog's love is resolute.   Who wouldn't want a best friend like that?  Yes, I am Ludwig's master but he has a lot to teach me, too - as I am sure he would happily tell you if he could.

Check out more of John's work at