DAGGER has proved you can teach an old dog new tricks – by becoming the world’s most famous four-legged artist.
The seven-year-old Labrador-mix, couldn’t cut it as an assistance dog, but he’s a real dab-paw at art.
Dagger, dubbed DogVinci, has painted more than 650 masterpieces — which fetch £250-a-go — and they have raised an astonishing £150,000 for charity.
Now his work will go on display at Europe’s first-ever animal art exhibition in Paris next month. Owner Yvonne Dagger, 69, said: “Dagger’s the dog world’s answer to painting . . . hence his nickname.
“He loves to paint, he wags his tail and he’s so excited when his artists brush and easel come out. He’ll push down on the brush and wiggle it and I’ll just let him be, he’s just so happy.
"Every brush stroke is painted by Dagger — so wherever the brush lands that’s where the paint will be. Whether it’s a dab, dot or a long wiggly brush stroke . . . Dagger paints every inch and we have sold hundreds all over the world.”
Dagger — who paints wearing a trademark red beret — was originally meant to be an assistance dog.
Artist Yvonne, from Long Island, New York, who also volunteers for charity Canine Companions for Independence, took in Dagger for the first 18 months of his life, before he started his formal training.
But he was found to have a fearful side, which made him unsuitable to be an assistance dog - so Yvonne and husband Dennis, also 69, decided to keep him as a pet instead.
Then, at two years old Dagger picked up a paintbrush for the first time after he began nudging Yvonne with his nose as she painted.
Yvonne said: “As I was painting an artwork the most astonishing thing happened as Dagger began nudging me with his nose. He was so persistent, jokingly, I asked him if he wanted to paint like ‘Mummy’ and his tail started to wag.
“I took a table-top easel, placed a canvas on it and used the command words including “push” instead of “paint” and “get” instead of “brush” that he had already learned in training and I taught him how to paint. I realised in a few sessions that Dagger had a unique talent.”
The way it works is that Yvonne puts a one-inch paint brush that Dagger holds in his mouth. And every six or so strokes Dagger pauses, so she can put more paint on.
She said: “I feel that Dagger is where he was always meant to be. His life began on a journey to become a service dog for one person and as fate would have it, his journey took a different, more fulfilling course where he has brought a smile and joy to hundreds of people instead.
“Dagger is not only a talented painter, but he’s also a gentle, kind soul. His love for people resonates wherever we go. It’s hard to find that combination. It’s really a once in a lifetime treasure. Dagger loves what he does, but his talent and temperament is what makes him a very, very special dog.”
For more information see dogvinci.com.
Star of the week
WITH one ear, a buck tooth, a chopped-off tail and “moth-eaten” fur, you can see Fifi the Frenchie hasn’t always had it easy.
Yet Abby Glonek, 31, and daughter Summer, eight, knew Fifi was perfect after finding the pup at Wood Green animal shelter in Godmanchester, Cambs.
The eight-year-old pup suffers from alopecia, gets ulcers from scratching her eyes and must take medication daily for skin allergies.
She also has baths in special shampoo and wipes to clean her nose wrinkles, ears and claws.
Abby, who is from Peterborough, said: “We saw Fifi with her one ear and sticking-out front tooth and just fell in love.
“I spoke to the shelter and was informed of her condition and we still knew she was the dog for us. She may not be everyone’s perfect dog but she’s definitely ours.
MANDY HARPER, 60, from Bath can’t figure out if her two-year-old Siamese cat called Rina likes her giving her strokes and attention.
Q) Rina comes up to me and meows, I’ll give her a pat and then she’ll want me to stop and claw me. Why do cats seek attention and then immediately reject it?
A) Cats have a way of keeping us mere humans on our toes, eh? There are several possibilities. Perhaps Rina just wants attention or feeding rather than physical affection. She might also just enjoy the stimulation and fun of having a swipe at you. Cats that have been allowed or encouraged to ‘hunt’ human hands and feet as kittens may also see it as a game when they’re adults.
It also might be dependant on the part of Rina’s body you are stroking at the time. If she is older, maybe she has arthritis in her back or hips, in which case she may be uncomfort- able? Some cats like being stroked in certain areas and not others.
A vet check can rule out if there is any pain or a physical issue at play.
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JADE HENNING, 50, from Dorset, has a six-year-old Labrador called Sophie that loves licking her when she’s just finished her bath.
Q) Why does my dog try to lick my legs when I get out of the shower?
A) She’s likely just showing affection, and enjoying the warm water drink at the same time. Licking is a natural appeasement behaviour dogs use to greet their owners or other dogs when they are pleased to see them. Sounds like Sophie finds it just a tad overwhelming to be apart from you when you shower, so she has to smother you in doggy kisses when you step out to tell you she really values you and wants to be your friend again. Embrace the doggy version of towelling off, I say!
Send your questions for the Pet Vet to email@example.com
Win ash charm
REMEMBER a loved pet with a charm, worth £95, that fits most well-known bracelet brands and holds a small amount of your late pal’s ashes.
We have three up for grabs.
See mypetsashes.co.uk for details.
For your chance to win, send an email marked CHARM to sundaypets@ the-sun.co.uk.