Rescue dogs celebrated in annual calendar

Last year, Lynn and Paul Sansale published their first calendar featuring portraits of rescue dogs working as therapy dogs.

Within weeks, they sold almost all 4,000 of their Rescue Dog to Therapy Dog calendars, so they set about making their second one for 2013, featuring Rescued Heroes, dogs that were rescued and then trained as therapy or service dogs.

One of their buyers mentioned an organization called Paws and Stripes, an Albuquerque, New Mexico, non-profit that provides trained service dogs to veterans suffering from PTSD and brain injuries at no cost.

The Sansales looked into the organization and were moved by its cause. With the help of K9s for Warriors, a similar organization, the couple headed out on a two-and-a-half-week road trip to meet veterans and their service dogs.

"Our focus just changed," Lynn told the StarTribune.

The cover of the 2013 Rescue Dog to Therapy Dog calendar will feature Fitz, an English cocker spaniel who works with veterans.

"That's the ultimate dog story, if you ask me," Lynn said, "because they save lives."

The 2014 calendar will feature only veterans and their service dogs.

Earlier this fall, the Toronto Star published an article on the benefits of service dogs for Afghan veterans with PTSD.

"This dog has made me the calmest person in the world," said Jesse Veltri, a veteran of Afghanistan.

"Win or lose. It doesn't really matter. Because when I go home at the end of the day, she'll be there waiting for me and she'll want the same thing, which is, go take me for a walk, give me some food and give me some water and show me some love."