Andover Townsman, Andover, MA

Arts/Entertainment

May 1, 2008

Wine with (four) legs: Hair of Dog wine and art event benefits MSPCA

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.

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