By Elijah Robinson
Come on over to the bark side.
Observing May the 4 in its own unique way, the Niagara SPCA held its third “Paint Night with Pooches” event, the first with a theme – a “Star Wars” theme.
Dog owners brought their pets or chose shelter dogs to paint “Star Wars”-themed canvas paintings with. Options ranged from Chewbacca to Yoda to Darth Vader.
"Because it was dedicated to ‘Star Wars,’ we ended up making character stencils from the movie, so people were able to pick what they wanted,” said Liz Marshall, director of events and marketing.
With a $30 payment, participants received a unique, 11-by-14-inch canvas painting, a free glass of wine through a partnership with A Gust of Sun Winery, and snacks and bottled water.
According to Marshall, this event saw the most shelter dogs used for a paint night – with four shelter dogs and 13 community dogs. It was up to two dogs in a session, and sometimes the dogs painted together.
“It was just overall one of our most fun fundraisers,” she said.
Marshall mentioned shelter dog Rocco as a highlight for his painting of Chewbacca. Rocco, a 4-year-old who has made his rounds on social media, was with the Niagara SPCA for 396 days after losing his owner before he was adopted.
“One of our volunteers, Rachel, had come in, and she chose Rocco to paint with, and he did an amazing job of Chewbacca,” Marshall said.
This event not only works as a fundraiser, but also gives shelter dogs a chance to find a home and an owner who loves them. If the dog is already spayed and neutered, dogs could be taken home on the same night, Marshall said.
“Sometimes, families choose a shelter dog, (because) maybe they have an older dog at home and they don’t have a dog, and then this is a way for the possibility of a dog to get adopted,” she noted. “In the future, we’re hoping that this is another avenue for an adoption process, outside of a typical meet and greet. This is more like a fun venture where they can come in and have some wine, some snacks, paint with (the) dogs, and hopefully they bond.”
Being one of the smaller SPCAs in the community, Marshall said events like these make the organization more visible and engage the community in fun activities.
“It’s also a way that we can partner with other small businesses in the community, as well,” she added.
Marshall said this was the third paint night of the year (starting from March). Going forward, she said there are plans to do paint nights once or twice a month.
“The community really loves these, so we’re just going to continue them on,” Marshall said.
Rocco with Niagara SPCA volunteer Rachel Dunn, showing his Chewbacca painting. (Submitted)