2018-06-20 / Columnists

Pets, Pets, Pets

Excitement is mounting in both the art world and on the shelter scene. A solo gallery opening of 40 paintings by Dagger the DogVinci, canine artist extraordinaire, is this Saturday, June 23rd. Dagger will sell his abstract art to help equip the new Babylon Animal Shelter.

You are invited to Dagger’s gallery opening “Gimme Shelter” and “Wine & Biscuit” reception at Long Island Picture Frame & Art Gallery, 4 Audrey Avenue, Oyster Bay Saturday from 5 to 9pm. Tickets are free. Call the gallery at (516)558-7511; the shelter at (631)643-9270 or RSVP to info@ ShelterMe.tv. Oh, yes, Dagger’s gallery opening will be filmed for an upcoming episode of the PBS program “ShelterMe”.

Last week’s column (online now at babylonbeacon.com, “Pets” 6/14/18) explains how Dagger, released from training to be a Canine Companions for Independence (CCI) service dog for a disabled person because of fear issues went back to live with his puppy raiser Yvonne Dagger of Massapequa. He watched his Mom paint in her studio. By nudging her, he told his Mom he’d like to paint too.

DogVinci logo DogVinci logo Yvonne improvised a brush he could grab in this mouth by attaching it to an old-fashioned meat tenderizer stick. With his excellent grasp of CCI tasks, work ethic and practice following his Mom’s commands, Dagger became an accomplished, abstract artist, soon discovered by the media.

Dagger Inspires Children to Paint: Fame did not go to Dagger’s handsome head. Instead, he covers it with a red beret which tells him he is working, and travels to schools and libraries with Yvonne to give painting classes to kids. His message- If a Labrador/Golden Retriever can create masterpieces, they can too. Kids use the same flat one-inch brush and non-toxic, acrylic paint as the DogVinci.

Dagger in his studio. Dagger in his studio. Dagger’s Media Frenzy: The DogVinci has made a name for himself. He was a guest on Rachel Ray, The Today Show, Inside Edition and The Daily Telegraph UK to name a few. CBS, Eyewitness News, Brazil TV, Tribeca Film Festival and other media outlets visited Dagger’s Massapequa studio to film him painting.

In 2015, a Newsday story about Dagger’s first demo at a LI rescue fundraiser kicked off a huge response from people around the world wanting to purchase his work, when at first Yvonne offered Dagger original art for $50 per painting. It was so difficult to keep up with the demand and shipping.

Dagger’s Gallery and Online Sales Benefit Charities: Jim Perna, owner of Long Island Picture Frame in Massapequa Park and Oyster Bay came to Dagger’s demand rescue. He set up a website (https://www.lipf.com/ store/c18/DogVinci.html) to sell and ship the DogVinci’s original art, unframed or framed, and limited edition Giclee prints. Part of the proceeds of each sale goes to charity. The buyer chooses from a drop -down menu to designate CCI, St. Jude’s Research Hospital, Forgotten Friends of LI or Foster Foundation which funds research for osteosarcoma (bone cancer which plagues kids and large dogs). Dagger’s art has raised $45,000 for his causes thus far.

Victor Talbot’s Menswear in Greenvale learned about how Dagger was helping pets and people. The store’s designers went to Milan with Dagger art to create men’s silk ties. The DogVinci logo is on the inside. These ties are for sale with 100% of the profits going to your choice of Dagger’s charities.

Saturday’s Gallery Opening for Dagger will be at Jim’s Oyster Bay location. Yvonne says: “He’s a wonderful man- very much into helping the Babylon Animal Shelter. He’s opened his gallery for this great event; he’s donated his time and resources to making this the most successful fundraiser ever. “

Be there. This may be the only chance you get to enjoy (and possibly buy) paintings by a canine artist, certified therapy dog and philanthropist. Dagger, wearing his trademark red beret and a dressy white bowtie will be arriving around 5pm in a stretch limo for his red carpet gallery entrance. A violinist will serenade the guests. Dagger hopes there will be trays of Paul Newman Cheese-Flavored Treats, his favorite hors d’oeuvre. The 40 paintings range in price from $220 to $350 depending on size. The online auction for Dagger’s signature piece “We Are Their Voice” ends soon.

Dagger Episode of “Shelter Me” on PBS: Steven Latham, an award-winning filmmaker, creates and produces “Shelter Me” a PBS series that celebrates the human animal bond with uplifting stories about shelter pets. A recent episode features an innovative Tucson shelter program where Alzheimer’s facilities foster orphaned kittens. This project not only gives kittens the 24-hour care they require to survive, but also helps seniors at the memory care facilities feel needed.

Celebrities narrate the episodes. Katherine Heigl hosts the episode about female prisoners that train shelter dogs to become service animals, while Dr. Jane Goodall narrates the “Shelter Me” program about an organization that trains shelter dogs to help protect endangered elephants and rhinos in Africa.

Meanwhile, the website ShelterMe. com enables anyone to share profiles of shelter pets to help increase adoptions. Shelter Me works closely with animal welfare organizations to organize effective spay-neuter and humane education programs and helps develop and implement life-saving projects directly at animal shelters. Steven followed Dagger’s artistic and charitable escapades online for three months before contacting Yvonne about featuring the DogVinci in episode #9 to broadcast on Channels 13 and 21 this fall. Steven wants each “dogumentary” to be multi-dimensional.

“Dagger definitely had a talent. We wanted to celebrate the close bond he has with Yvonne, his Mom and mentor, and showcase the impact their efforts together have on the community,” said Steven, “Dagger’s paintings had the compassionate and creative components we were looking for.”

In April Steven and his crew came to LI for to film Dagger painting at home and teaching kids at Islip Library. They ‘re returning Wednesday this week to film Dagger at a Hicksville Library program and meeting staff and homeless pets at the current Babylon Shelter. The episode will culminate in filming Dagger and entourage during his opening at the Oyster Bay gallery. “Puparazzi” will pose in front of the step n’ repeat designed by Steven which includes Dagger’s logo with the new Babylon Shelter logo.

Did I say tickets to Dagger’s gallery opening are FREE? As a 35+ year volunteer at Babylon Shelter, I am over the moon Dagger and Steven Latham producer of “Shelter Me” have chosen the new Babylon Shelter to benefit from the DogVinci’s amazing talents that TV audiences across the US will see.

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