Armed with a paintbrush and a red beret, a Long Island dog is creating masterpiece paintings with a little help from his owner.
Dagger II, better known as "Dog-Vinci", grips a #10 flat brush in his teeth and paints away, pausing only to allow his owner, Yvonne Dagger, to turn the canvas.
"He'll push down on the brush and wiggle it on the canvas, and I'll just let him be," Dagger told InsideEdition.com. After six or so strokes, the Lab will pause, indicating he wants Yvonne Dagger to put more paint on the brush, or to adjust the canvas "so he gets [the paint] in different places."
"Every stroke is his. I'm just his director," his owner said.
Yvonne Dagger said the first time she invited her furry companion to the easel was when she was working on her own painting, and she noticed Dagger II watching. She asked him enthusiastically, "Do you want to paint?" and took his wagging tail as a "yes."
"It could have meant it was time I gave him some attention, but I do know when Dagger paints, he's so happy." the professional artist said. "I truly believe this is where Dagger wants to be."
When Yvonne Dagger was unable to find a custom paintbrush the Labrador could hold in his mouth, she constructed a brush holder for him using a cardboard tube from a paper towel roll. She stuck one end of the paintbrush through a side of the cardboard tube, and used duct tape to set the contraption in place.
The three-year-old pup was once in training to be a service dog, but was adopted by the family when he was released from the program.
Yvonne Dagger was then able to use commands from the Labrador's service dog days to advise his artwork.
When she wants Dagger II to choose a paint, Yvonne Dagger will command, "Pick a paint," emphasizing the strong "p" sound that's used in the command, "push," from his training in pushing open and closed doors.
In a similar way, she replaced the term "get" with the command "brush," to signal that it is time for Dagger II to pick up the paint brush.
"We've been getting swamped with people who want his [paintings]," Dagger told IE.com She said people from as far as Seattle and England have been emailing her to commission the Labrador's work.
Even though this Labrador never completed training as a service dog, he continues to give back to the community with his paintings. Proceeds from his current sales are going to fund Canine Companions for Independence's Walk 'n Roll at the end of December.
"He's helping in his own little four legged way to provide highly trained assistance dogs to people with disabilities."
His paintings sell for $50 to $200 depending on the size of the canvas. The largest canvas Dagger II can work with is 16x20 due to his size.