07 April 2008

"Salvador Doggie" Paints Up a Storm

A five-year-old golden retriever will raise money next month by selling his paintings to benefit the Pacific Assistance Dogs Society which trained him. Dubbed "Salvador Doggie" by some, the painting pooch named Athens is a pawsitively proficient artist.

"I just made him learn that he has to touch the paper with his paintbrush before he gets any food," said Sherry Caves, who has used a wheelchair since the age of seven because of a spinal injury suffered in a car accident involving a drunk driver. Caves lives in a west end Vancouver apartment with her son Aidan, husband Darryl and the dog.

"He's my right-hand man, my little sidekick," added Caves. "He pulls me up the hills in my wheelchair and I don't have to rely on my husband and son." Athens can also turn on a light switch, open a door and pick up things Caves drops.

"About a year ago, I saw a video on YouTube about an assistance dog back east in the U.S. who could paint," said Caves, who got the PADS-trained dog three years ago. "These dogs are so smart - it didn't take long to train him." Athens has painted about eight pieces. One looks like a cat and another like goldfish swimming in a pond.

Caves said she's always thinking of ways to raise funds and believes people will be doggone keen to buy Athens's paintings. The talented dog will be put to work at a Mother's Day charity auction May 10 in Burnaby.

"Athens will be taking part in a silent and a live auction," said Jennifer Moir, PADS manager of fundraising and volunteer programs. "He will be at the front demonstrating how he paints. This is the first time that one of our dogs has done something like this," Moir added.

[Source: The Calgary Herald]