Despite the lure of global web fame, his premier art gallery opening AND being chauffeured to his taping of “The Rachael Ray Show” Long Island’s favorite painting pooch remains “a mush,” his owner says.
Yes, Dagger II — aka DogVinci — who has become a paint-brush-wielding media star since March 18 when Newsday first told the story of the 3-year-old canine — seems oblivious to celebrity and success, “as long as he gets his treats,” says Yvonne Dagger, his human mom and an artist herself.
That’s even after being ooh-ed and ahh-ed over last month by the celebrity cook/author/talk show host, as well as several smitten producers and other staff on “The Rachael Ray Show.” The show airs Friday at 10 a.m. on WABC, Channel 7.
As for the taping itself, it was all a blur, said Yvonne Dagger, 65, and she’ll be as surprised as anyone to hear just what she ended up saying. She does recall vividly, though, how Dagger, sporting his signature red artist’s beret, “fell madly in love” with Ray’s guest co-host, Regis Philbin, with a little humorous mayhem ensuing.
Originally headed for a career assisting the disabled, Dagger’s life took a pivot. He has been applying the follow-command skills he learned in his training as a professional artist, creating original paintings that are selling for $130 to $325, depending on canvas size and framing.
Early proceeds were earmarked for Medford-based Canine Companions for Independence, where the artist got his assistance-dog training. Skills he learned there, such as pushing drawers and doors closed and taking objects in his mouth, are now being channeled into his creative endeavors, according to the canine’s website, DogVinci.com.
Dagger received his first paint brush last summer, when, instead of quietly watching his mom at her easel, he started nudging her, says Yvonne Dagger. She presented him with an 11-by-14-inch canvas, a brush made with duct tape and a paper towel tube and a tabletop easel, placed at dog height on the floor of her — now their — Massapequa studio.
“Brush,” she tells Dagger, and he takes the makeshift brush in his mouth. “Paint,” she says, and her prodigy is off and running — running the brush across the canvas, making a red dab, then another, then pausing for more paint.
As if his date with Rachael and Regis weren’t enough, Friday also marks Dagger’s gallery debut — billed as “our first canine gallery opening” by Long Island Picture Frame and Art Gallery, Massapequa Park.
Dagger and his mom are partnering with that business, which is taking over the ordering process, framing and shipping of DogVinci originals, as well as recently introduced limited edition prints, with 10 percent of the proceeds going to Forgotten Friends of Long Island, Yvonne Dagger said. That’s a Plainview-based animal rescue and rehabilitation group.
Fun as it is to feature a canine artist, gallery owner Jim Perna says he was especially drawn to the idea of helping to support local animal organizations.
Dagger may be “a canine prodigy,” he said, but he’s also “a dog painting for his fellow four-legged friends.”