K9 Salute team wins their own salute

K9 Salute team wins their own salute
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Until the end of June 2020, K9 Kaiser was one of 22 dogs on the Michigan War Dog Memorial K9 Salute team. Suanne Martin ’84 will carve a statue in the likeness of Kaiser, depicting all of the Salute team dogs that have passed, including Kaiser. Kaiser is pictured with Julie Fentner, the dog handler.

The Michigan War Dog Memorial (MWDM) in south Lyon gives dogs that once served our country, troops, police and firefighters, as well as therapy and assistance dogs, a good start. The Memorial Cemetery, first established in 1932 as a pet cemetery, was rediscovered and renamed in 2010 as MWDM, and it has hosted services to honor dogs since 2014.

The MWDM K9 Salute team were at the Memorial Cemetery almost every weekend from mid-May to October 2019, honoring 17 fallen heroes with services that included missing dog formations, a color guard, bagpipes, a bugle, a funeral flag, a gravestone and a personalized hand drawing of the deceased dog at no cost to the dog handler.

Until the end of June 2020, K9 Kaiser – an exceptionally large German Shepherd, weighing 160 pounds – was one of 22 dogs on the MWDM K9 Salute team. During dog-honoring ceremonies at MWDM, Kaiser performed a howling salute, much like a 21-gun salute, which would sound and recognize the honoree buried during a service.

Unfortunately, the MWDM K9 Salute team lost a few of their dogs, including Kaiser; to commemorate them, the team hired Suanne Martin ’84 to carve a statue in the likeness of Kaiser, representing all of the Salute team dogs that have passed by. The statue will accompany a granite wall that will bear the names of the commemorated MWDM K9 Salute Team dogs.

“I am very honored to have been chosen as the sculptor for this important commemorative project,” said Martin.

When Martin first dated K, she aspired to be a painter, until an art teacher, the late Marcia Wood ’55, encouraged her to take a sculpture class.

“I was intimidated, to be honest, but she pushed me out of my comfort zone,” Martin said. “Once I got my hands in the dirt, I never looked back.

After graduating, Martin wanted more training in anatomy to improve his skills in sculpting life forms. She studied for three years at the Center for Creative Studies in Detroit before earning her Masters at the Pratt Institute in New York.

This training led to the carving of figures and figures which were then cast and used for magazine illustrations or put into production in the toy industry. She was also hired by a studio to be one of the people who sculpt the portraits of signatories to the United States Constitution for the National Constitution Center in Philadelphia.

Studios for black dogs

Suanne Martin ’84 sculpted her French mastiff, also called Dogue de Bordeaux. Martin will now carve a German Shepherd to honor the deceased K9 War Dog Memorial dogs.

Later, as she owned dogs, they were natural subjects for new sculptures. The first was a lean, muscular boxer; years later there was a French mastiff, which Martin described as a dream breed.

“Being in New York City, this huge red wrinkled puppy has become a celebrity in its own right,” Martin said. “I made a lot of good friends thanks to him.”

When his mastiff unexpectedly died after five and a half years, sculpting him was part of Martin’s grieving process. When she posted the final result on Facebook, friends and acquaintances took notice. This caught Martin’s attention on social media which saw him win more orders before hooking up with Julie Fentner, who was Kaiser’s handler, and winning the job of sculpting Kaiser.

“It’s exciting,” Martin said. “This is the first outdoor monument sculpture I have taken on my own. I don’t just create the original artwork, but I do the casting and casting. It’s not just me doing a song to please a person. I want to pay tribute to all the canine officers, military dogs and assistance dogs under this umbrella. I want this to inspire a lot of people. “

So far, the Michigan War Dog Memorial nonprofit has raised around $ 5,000 to reach a goal of $ 20,000 to fund Martin’s Project. Those interested in donating for the sculpture are encouraged to do so through Facebook or GoFundMe. If all goes well, Martin hopes to start the project in October and finish it around mid-2021.

“Over the past six and a half years, Kaiser has brought joy and happiness by doing therapy with veterans, seniors, mentally handicapped adults, firefighters, police departments, rehabilitation centers, some funerals. humans and many other places, as do many of the other dogs on the MWDM K9 Salute team, ”said Fentner. “His ability to bring happiness to others knew no bounds. I am so honored that my boy Kaiser represents the dogs of the MWDM K9 Salute Team and is commemorated himself.

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