A TALENTED artist has given a special gift to the owners of a rescue dog in recognition of an ‘animal OBE’ awarded earlier this year.

Maria Guselli, from Barrow, has drawn an exquisite portrait of the Lake District Mountain Rescue dog Skye who was awarded a PDSA Order of Merit in March.

Border collie Skye’s dogged devotion saw her carry out 200 searches during 11 years working in the Lake District before retiring in 2020 aged 14.

Skye, who was believed to have been the oldest working mountain rescue dog in the UK, was given the PDSA Order of Merit, described as an 'animal OBE', for her work.

During her service, Skye and handler John Leadbetter carried out searches in all weathers to help locate missing people.

The hardworking canine began her career as a puppy with Bowland Pennine Mountain Rescue Team. She then worked as a trainee and graded search dog with Duddon and Furness MRT before joining Langdale and Ambleside MRT and then Kendal MRT.

READ MORE: Lake District Mountain Rescue dog Skye awarded PDSA Order of Merit for 11 years of service

Maria, who is a close family friend with Skye’s owners, found a special way to honour the long service of the pooch by drawing a life-like portrait.

Maria, who runs Maria Guselli Animal Art, surprised Skye and her owners with the artwork at a Queen’s Platinum Jubilee Party.

“I’ve always loved Skye,” the 22-year-old said.

“I have been doing my art business for a while and thought it would be nice to do a drawing of Skye after the award.

“They didn’t know I was going to do it so it was a nice surprise for them too.

“Because Skye is getting older, it was nice for them to have a portrait of her to keep.”

Maria, who works for her family’s business, said Skye’s owners were ‘really pleased’ with the portrait, which took two weeks to complete.

READ MORE: Barrow cancer survivor Maria Guselli marks World Cancer Day

“They loved it – it was so lovely to see their reaction,” she said.

“They were really pleased with it.

“I found a photo of Skye and sketched it out coloured it in. It took quite a long time to do this one but I really enjoyed doing it.

“It’s a nice way to honour her award and show off how special she is – she’s amazing.”

Maria hopes to eventually turn her art business into her full-time job.

To learn more about her work, visit Maria Guselli Animal Art on Facebook.