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Sarasota Magazine's sculpture for Southeastern Guide Dogs will be painted by Oddity Tattoo's Travis Franklin.

Look around these days and you'll probably see some original artwork popping up around our city--specifically in the form of dog sculptures that have been decked out by local artists.

The sculptures--part of Southeastern Guide Dogs' "Superheroes on Parade" initiative--were crafted by Scott Joseph Moore of Moore Art Expressions. Each sculpture weighs 80 pounds and features a Labrador retriever wearing a superhero cape. There are 50 statues in total; local businesses paid to sponsor and display the dogs. The campaign will also feature a dedicated website, a People's Choice Award contest for favorite sculpture, a gala and more; it culminates with each of the 50 sculptures "on parade" on Palm Avenue in downtown Sarasota on October 8-9.

And Sarasota Magazine is getting in on the fun. We tapped Travis Franklin, owner of Oddity Tattoo and all-around awesome guy, to paint our sculpture.

"We wanted something unusual and fun," explains Sarasota Magazine creative director Gigi Ortwein, "and we thought Travis was the perfect fit."

Turns out Franklin has a personal connection to the project, as well.

"I'm honored to paint one of these [sculptures] for veterans' guide dogs sponsored by Sarasota Magazine," he wrote in a Facebook post this weekend. "This is a cause I'm very passionate about, so I'm very grateful for the opportunity to put forth the effort for vets who suffer from PTSD and other war trauma.

"This is really personal for me because I suffer from PTSD," he continued. "For those of you who don't know what that means, in short, it steals any memories of comfort or livelihood from you. It is a struggle to be yourself in 99 percent of most social encounters--especially with crowds--due to overwhelming fear and sometimes panic, paranoia, insomnia, depression and body pains. If any of you have ever been in a car accident, that feeling you have afterward, in your chest and throat, is similar to what [PTSD] feels like most of the time.

"So amidst all this inner turmoil and threat, these dogs are trained guide dogs and companion that most definitely help calm, love and [reassure] those with PTSD. Our vets need outside help from strangers. Help them find some peace on this planet if you are able to."

Look for our sculpture soon! In the meantime, visit guidedogs.org for more information. Happy tails!

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