Military affairs beat: Calendar features vets and their dogs

  • Article by: MARK BRUNSWICK , Star Tribune
  • Updated: December 18, 2013 - 11:07 AM
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A Twin Cities couple has produced a calendar of service dogs and their owners, all veterans with PTSD and other ailments.

The acrylic paintings by local artist Paul Sansale feature dogs rescued from shelters across the country. It is the third year that Sansale and his wife, Lynn, have produced a calendar about rescued service dogs, but this is the first with dogs and veterans.

Lynn Sansale says creating a calendar about the intimate relationship between the service dogs and veterans feels like a calling; combining a passion for the restorative nature of dogs with problems of returning service members.

“We hope to open up the eyes for the value of service dogs, when nothing else works,” Lynn said.

Each year the Sansales have dug into their own pockets (and credit cards) to make the calendars, which have yet to climb out of the red. The couple hope to turn their operation into a nonprofit soon to return any money made to organizations that train service dogs.

Paul Sansale, a Vietnam-era veteran, worked for years as an art director and illustrator for Pillsbury, General Mills, Land O’Lakes, 3M and other Minnesota companies.

Paul painted the portraits of the dogs, always beginning with the eyes. Each painting took about 70 hours to complete. Lynn wrote a narrative for each month about the veterans and their dogs. The month of August for example, details the life of Skip, a Labradoodle abandoned at a gas station, and Alex, a soldier with two tours of duty in Iraq. The two were connected through a group, K-9s for Warriors, which provides dogs rescued from shelters and trained to be service dogs for veterans suffering from post-traumatic stress. Asked what is the most important thing about Skip, Alex said: “He taught me to love again.”

The calendar is being sold for $14.99 on a limited basis locally at several hospital gift shops, Go! Calendars, and at www.classicpetpaintings.com/buynow.

 

Mark Brunswick • 612-673-4434

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