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Dagger, Long Island’s painting dog, to put on solo gallery show

Dagger II the painting dog in artist Yvonne

Dagger II the painting dog in artist Yvonne Dagger's Massapequa home studio on March 16, 2016. Credit: Newsday / John Paraskevas

There’s nothing else to call it but a one-dog show.

Long Island’s celebrated four-legged artist and philanthropist, Dagger II — aka DogVinci — is set for a solo gallery show Saturday in Oyster Bay featuring 40 of his original paintings. Sales are to benefit the Babylon Animal Shelter, said his owner, muse and chief tummy-rubber, Yvonne Dagger of Massapequa.

Cameras will also be rolling that night, as Dagger is to be featured in an upcoming episode of “Shelter Me,” a series on telling uplifting stories on shelter animals and the people — in this case, canines — who help them. The episode is planned to air in the fall on local PBS channels 13 and 21, Yvonne Dagger said.

And, yes, on Saturday the dog of the hour, sporting a white bow tie and his signature red beret, can be expected to leap from a stretch limo onto a red carpet leading into the gallery as a violinist plays.

That’s just a bit of fun, his mom said, as the main initiative is serious — bringing attention to animals who are not so fortunate.

The hope is for a clean sweep of sold paintings, with framed Dagger originals ranging in price from $225 to $350. All proceeds will benefit the shelter in West Babylon, which will display its own images in the gallery, photos of 40 dogs of varying ages in need of forever homes with good families, Yvonne Dagger said. Volunteers will also be on hand to discuss adoption opportunities.

The gallery show, “Gimme Shelter,” is free and runs from 5 to 9 p.m. Saturday at Long Island Picture Frame & Art Gallery in Oyster Bay. Art and animal lovers can also bid before 8 p.m. Friday on one Dagger original featured on the website.

Dagger became a paint-brush-wielding media sensation after Newsday in March 2016 first told the story of the then-3-year-old black Lab-golden retriever mix who had been heading for a career assisting disabled people. His life had taken a pivot, though, one that found him applying the follow-command skills he learned in his training to his new role as a professional artist.

“Brush,” his mom says, and Dagger takes in his mouth a makeshift brush made with duct tape and a paper towel tube. “Paint,” she says, and her prodigy is off and running — running the brush across the canvas, making a dab, then another, then pausing for more paint.

Since then, $50,000 has been donated to area charities, thanks to sales and donations of Dagger’s artwork, said his mom, a fine artist herself.

Dagger has also participated in more than 50 Paint ’N Paw DogVinci Workshops at schools and libraries and has maintained his therapy work with visits to nursing homes and rehab centers.

Other celebrity benefactors may have more complex motivations, but as for Dagger, his mom says, he still “does all of this in the hopes of a belly rub, an ‘atta boy’ and a treat.”

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