Shawsheen Village Liquors may be one of the most dog-friendly shops in town. The store's official mascot is Jake, the 10-year-old, 85-pound pooch of owners Michael and Sheri Helman.
Jake usually sits in the stock room and peeks his nose out from under the swinging doors.
Customers love to visit Jake; those who bring in their own dogs get a complimentary doggie bone with their bottles of wine and other spirits.
"Jake is the first real mutt I've owned, and he's the best dog I've ever had. I grew up in a family that always wanted pureblood dogs," said Sheri Helman, who has owned Shawsheen Village Liquors with her husband for seven years. "Now, everybody walks in the store and says, 'Hi, Jake!' "
The Helmans adopted Jake from Nevins Farm in Methuen, a facility of the Massachusetts Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals.
It was their love of Jake and expertise with wines that prompted them to host a wine-tasting fundraiser, aptly named "Hair of the Dog," to raise money for Nevins Farm. The first Hair of the Dog was four years ago; it has now become an annual event combined with an art show, raffles, live music and food.
This year's Hair of the Dog will be May 2 at the Essex Art Center in Lawrence. Last year, 300 people attended and Hair of the Dog raised $7,500.
"What I enjoy the most is seeing the people willing to come out for the animals and the art; it makes me feel good. I think the artwork is great, the wine's pretty good and the cause is fabulous. A lot of great wines for a great cause," said Sheri Helman.
The Helmans will have close to 50 wines and beer for tasting that evening, and have selected several with animal-themed names to showcase, such as Red Rover and Fat Cat.
Liquor cannot be sold at the art center, but the couple will take orders. Whole Foods is donating the appetizers, and about 20 artists will have works displayed, including paintings, sculpture, stained glass and jewelry, said Helman.
All ticket proceeds go directly to the MSPCA at Nevins Farm, she said. Ten percent of all wine and art sales will also be donated to the animal shelter.
Live music will be provided by the White Street Band, a Chicago-style blues band "with a rock and roll edge," said Helman. All the band's members are local musicians, she said.
The invitations for the event feature a pastel drawing of the late Andover resident May Bell by Karen Van Welden-Herman, an Andover artist. Bell was a dog lover and was seldom seen about town without a pooch in tow.
"She was a person that people in town knew. She used to work for the town and she walked all over town with her dogs. The Historical Society was one of her favorite spots and she went to the library every day to read the paper," said Welden-Herman of May Bell. "She loved animals, and always loved dogs ... her animals were wonderfully well-treated."
Welden-Herman's portrait, created for Bell's 80th birthday, shows Bell with her 114-pound German shepherd, Rikki Gretchen.
"We thought (the portrait of Bell) represented how we felt about the MSPCA. It's a companion thing between the owners and their pets. That's a beautiful thing about adopting from the MSPCA," she said.
Bell volunteered many years for the Andover Historical Society and when she died in 1996, she left significant bequests to the places that had been of special significance to her throughout her life: the Andover Historical Society, the Free Christian Church and Memorial Hall Library, said Sheri Helman.
Welden-Herman and Bell were friends and both were involved with the Historical Society. Welden-Herman's portrait of Bell will not be at the show, but she'll have some oil and acrylic paintings for sale, many of them with animal themes.
But not all will showcase dogs.
"I'm more of a cat person," she chuckled.
What: Fourth annual Hair of the Dog wine and beer tasting and art show,
When: Friday, May 2, from 6 to 9 p.m.
Where: Essex Art Center, 56 Island St., Lawrence
Why: To benefit Nevins Farm and the MSPCA
How: Tickets are $25 at the door or $20 in advance; available at Shawsheen Village Liquors, 4 Poor St., 978-475-3636; at the MSPCA, Nevins Farm, 400 Broadway (Route 28), Methuen, 978-687-7453, ext. 6105; or online at www.mspca.org/nevinsfarm. All ticket proceeds goto the MSPCA at Nevins Farm. Ten percent of all wine and art sales donated. Visit www.shawsheenliquors.com and click on "Great Wines for Great Causes"