By Tatiana Belanich
Elwood Public Library hosted a special pup on Saturday – one who loves treats, belly rubs, but most importantly, painting.
His name is Dagger DogVinci, who doubles as both pup and abstract painter.
With a paintbrush in mouth and berry red beret atop his head, the four-legged talent ignited a desire for learning, creativity and community service with a program hosted at the library for kids in grades K-5.
Before Dagger was born in Santa Rosa, California on Oct. 10, 2012, his fate was thought to be predetermined as a service dog with Canine Companions for Independence. However, Dagger did not graduate from the program, and his fate took a turn when adoptive owner Yvonne Dagger, an artist, had him join her one day while she was painting.
This discovery of Dagger’s creative ability has brought the pup, who’s now a “global sensation,” on an adventure that’s helped hundreds, Yvonne said. “He has helped not just one person. He has helped hundreds of people since he was released from the program two and a half years ago.”
Today, at just 5 years old, Dagger brings joy and positivity to all he encounters by using his talent for a worthy cause.
“Dagger has donated, sold, and fundraised over $50,000 for charity and we want to inspire people to be able to do that as well,” Yvonne said. “But if you don’t have the resources, that’s fine, too. Just volunteer, just give your smile to someone, and be kind.”
Yvonne and Ann Barile have travelled to sites around Nassau and Suffolk, completing over 50 workshops to spread Dagger’s meaningful messages of education and community service.
“We do this in libraries for a reason, because Dagger’s a serious artist. This is serious business for him, so his message is serious,” Yvonne said.
The Saturday morning workshop in Elwood began with a demonstration by Dagger himself.
The children, fascinated from the moment they laid eyes on him, eagerly watched as Dagger painted on a canvas before them. They then had the chance to make their own piece of art.
“It takes children away from their computers and gives them an opportunity to create and to be inspired,” Yvonne said. She encouraged the group to “paint from the heart,” just as Dagger does.
It didn’t take long for the children to use the paintbrush as a form of expression. Barile was delighted as she looked at all the paintings, admiring how not one was the same. “They’re all different,” she said.
Jessica Toner, head of the library’s children’s department, said she takes pleasure in planning fun events for the community. “Seeing the smile on their faces makes you feel good,” she said.
Many parents of the attendees praised the library for the program, and similar programs that it hosts. Michelle Laredo-Torres, accompanied by her 9-year-old son Damian, said, “They do the most amazing events. It’s the best thing about living in this community. We love it here.”
Lorin Pandolfi, of Elwood, brought her children, Thomas, 7, and Emma, 5, to participate. “I thought it was awesome and a great fun and free event to do with the kids,” Pandolfi said.
One of Dagger’s goal is to encourage people to reach out. The children took their paintings home, a sure reminder of Dagger and his message. “It tickles me inside to know that one child will go away being inspired by a dog that paints,” Yvonne said.
To learn more about Dagger, including his upcoming appearance on PBS show “Shelter Me,” visit Dogvinci.com.
For more on the 1929 Jericho Turnpike library and its programming, visit Elwoodlibrary.org.