Andover Townsman, Andover, MA

Arts/Entertainment

May 1, 2014

'Hair of Dog' pays tribute to late, great Jake

Annual MSPCA at Nevins Farm benefit is Friday

The abandoned, undernourished mixed-breed pup who became the inspiration for the annual “Hair of the Dog” fundraiser to benefit the MSPCA of Nevins Farm will be honored when the wine and art show once again fills Essex Art Center in Lawrence on Friday night, May 2.

Michael and Sheri Helman, the owners of Shawsheen Village Liquors in Andover, launched “Hair of the Dog” in 2005 after adopting Jake, who they discovered sitting in an outdoor cage at Nevins Farm. They had taken Michael Helman’s daughters there to help them overcome their fears of dogs when they immediately bonded with the young pup.

In an effort to repay the MSPCA, the Helmans staged “Hair of the Dog.” What began as a wine tasting in 2005 has become a popular annual event featuring an exhibit of works by local artists and artisans, including jewelry makers, potters, sculptors, textile artists and more, who donate 10 percent of their sales from the evening to the MSPCA.

Like the event, the MSPCA at Nevins Farm has grown over the years, the Helmans say. When the couple adopted Jake in 1998, they say the place was “just a broken-down, old house.” Today it cares for nearly 7,000 animals each year — all without government funding. That’s why fundraisers such as “Hair of the Dog” are so important, Sheri Helman says.

Jake, who was considered the official mascot for “Hair of the Dog,” passed away last year at age 15 1/2. The Helmans say he is missed by his many fans, including those who would visit him at Shawsheen Village Liquors. But they say he will never be forgotten thanks to all the money raised for the MSPCA at Nevins Farm.

This year’s event goes from 6 to 9 p.m. on Friday. More than 50 wines will be offered for tasting as well as beer, courtesy of the Clown Shoes Beer. Whole Foods Market will supply the food.

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