Dog’s Art Keeps Service Dogs in the Money

by Mary Haight on October 20, 2009

When Mary Stadelbacher of Shore Service Dogs came across Sam in a shelter four years ago, she recognized a dog4030783754_b0bd9402a2_oDogPaints who had had service training and took him home for retraining.  She didn’t realize it then, but Sam was going to end up helping her in ways she could not have imagined.

Sam didn’t get to complete his rehab.  Stadelbacher had an operation on her right hand that went bad, so was out of commission for a time.  Sam came in very handy (groaner not intentional) as a much needed helper dog, and she decided to keep him.  The painting idea came from a series of news clips Stadelbacher saw showing elephants and even dolphins painting.  Since helper dogs are trained to hold things in their mouths, out came the paint brushes and the easel. A dog artist was born.  Stadelbacher taught Sam a thing or two, customized the brushes, and it’s said that Sam actually enjoys painting at will for hours, if Stadelbacher would let him. (Photo:

Sam has an abstract style (ok, ok, what else could it be?) admired by several chi-chi galleries in New York, one of which is Denise Dibro’s studio (just in case you want to check it out),  and while the critics have not weighed in, the public has. Paintings have gone for up to $1700 (my kind of people) and with 22 paintings to date, Sam is doing his bit to keep Shore Service Dogs afloat.

I’ve written about dogs who have saved the people who rescued them, like the story about the rescued dog who saved his family from a bear attack, dogs who have saved families from house fires, saved from certain death from medical problems, and even dogs saving other dogs, but Sam seems to be the gift that just keeps on giving.  The story gave me a smile, both for the gift of the dog and the ability of the person to think differently. How about you?  Got any stories to share?

One more thing…

Sharon L Peters wrote a story in USA Today on how the elderly get more health benefits from walking with shelter dogs than they do from walking with spouses or friends.  Planning ahead never hurt anybody…


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