K9 calendar is perfect Christmas gift and Paws🐾itively Fort Wayne!

Positively Fort Wayne

Just in time for Christmas, a new calendar is out that helps support retired K9 Officers and their handlers. Blue Line Paws 2022 is a collaboration between students at the University of Saint Francis and Blue Line Paws, a 501(c)3 non-profit group. The organization was formed in 2017 to help give retired K9’s the best quality of life possible after years of service to the community.

Matt Harmeyer is a veteran K9 Handler with the Fort Wayne Police Department. He says K9’s do heroic work, but are often physically worn down and have frequent medical issues due to the nature of their work. When K9 Officers retire, they are offered to their handlers to live out their remaining years. The cost of caring for the dog falls on the handler. That’s where Blue Line Paws steps in to help. “This is huge,” Harmeyer says, “It takes a huge financial burden off the handlers which is the goal of the organization.”

The calendar is the latest fundraiser for Blue Line Paws. Students in Professor Cara Lee Wade’s Advanced Photography class came up with the idea to photograph the dogs at cultural landmarks like Coney Island, the Embassy Theatre, and the Fort Wayne Children’s Zoo. Wade says her students wanted the locations to be easily recognizable. “They wanted places that when you think of Fort Wayne, this is what you think of.”

The Blue Line Paws Calendar is available at G.I. Joe’s Army Surplus and the East State Veterinary Clinic.

Wade says the calendar was the perfect project for her students to learn to work as a team before they go out in the world. “One of the things St. Francis is big on is service learning. I love that we are teaching them skills they can take into the workforce, but we’re also teaching them that they can use their skills for good.”

Mark Bieker is also a veteran K9 handler with FWPD. He says the transition to retirement is a huge adjustment. “It’s often an anxiety issue for the dogs. These are not pets. They haven’t had the luxury of lounging around for ten years.” Bieker says Blue Line Paws helps make the transition to being a family pet easier. “We’re trying to get through to a dog that has done nothing but work, that now is your time to relax. To be free.”

Harmeyer says the calendar is a perfect way to showcase real community heroes. “I don’t think the public gets an opportunity to see the true side of some of these dogs. These dogs have true personalities and the calendar does a great job exposing those.”

The calendars can be purchased for $20 at G.I. Joe’s Army Surplus at 1638 N. Wells Street, and at the East State Veterinary Clinic at 3319 E. State Blvd in Fort Wayne.

The Blue Line Paws 2022 Calendar would make a perfect Christmas gift and is Positively Fort Wayne!

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