Support Local Journalism


Elisha Miller picked a sketch of a dog with sunglasses and a cowboy hat because it reminded her of Otis, her yellow Labrador retriever. She went to Saturday’s tattoo fundraiser for the Heart of the Valley Animal Shelter on a whim after hearing about it at Montana Ale Works.

Miller has been looking for a shelter dog that will get along with Otis. She’s been checking Heart of the Valley’s website for pets frequently, but is still waiting for the right fit.

Saturday’s tattoo is Miller’s ninth, but the first she’s gotten at Gold Thorn — a local tattoo shop that opened in the Cannery District a few months ago. Finishing a sleeve of wildflowers has been Miller’s priority for a while, but the pop-up event for shelter pets seemed fun, she said.

Gold Thorn Tattoo artist Angie Mukai drew the dog on Miller’s left forearm carefully, making sure to follow the lines from the sketch. Mukai, from Boston, said her artwork usually has a traditional Japanese style.

“This will bring a smile to my face,” Miller said after the tattoo was finished. “(The event) shows how much love Bozeman has for shelter animals. It’s a dog-friendly town.”

Several tattoo artists, local businesses and a band donated their time, food, drinks and live music to support the Heart of the Valley Animal Shelter. All proceeds raised from the flash tattoos and raffles were set to go to the shelter, according to Gold Thorn Manager Chloe Wagner.

“We’ve been trying to get a lot of exposure, and a good way to do that is to also contribute to the community here,” Wagner said. “We really wanted to help someone out with a fundraiser, and we thought of Heart of the Valley because we love animals.”

Auzzy Kanouse, who is from Seattle, said he opened up Gold Thorn Tattoo in Bozeman three months ago with help from his girlfriend Megan Long. He’s grown up with rescue animals, and he lets his dog, Jax, stay in the shop. Raising money for Heart of the Valley seemed like a good choice.

“Every day since we got (Jax), he lays by my feet here,” he said. “He’s a huge part of the culture here, and who doesn’t love dogs?”

Kanouse started tossing around the idea of a fundraiser a couple months ago, but organizing it happened organically after other businesses started to hear about it and reached out.

“I didn’t ask one of them to do it,” he said. “They heard about it through word of mouth.”

Five local tattoo artists, Dean’s Zesty Booch, Wildrye Distilling, University Burger, Devil’s Toboggan, the Knuckle Truck and local musicians Abel and Benn all contributed the event.

On Saturday morning, people seeking tattoos joined a line that wrapped around the hallway to the shop. The artists invited customers through the doors one by one, letting them choose from pre-drawn flash art options.

Kanouse spent some time drawing a gypsy on Jason Larsen’s forearm. Larsen, who moved to Bozeman from Utah two years ago, said he thinks it’s best to let a tattoo artist run with a design they are passionate about.

“Auzzy is a very trustworthy local business owner,” Larsen said. “He really owns his craft.”

Kanouse said he has the best clients and he’s thankful Bozeman has been so supportive of him opening his shop. Even though the shop just opened, business has been growing fast.

“People have been so sweet,” said Long, who was helping to keep things running smoothly on Saturday. “Everybody is coming together.”

Long hopes Saturday’s event inspires people to adopt shelter dogs and cats.

Support Local Journalism

To see what else is happening in Gallatin County subscribe to the online paper.

Helena Dore can be reached at or at 582-2628.

Support quality local journalism. Become a subscriber.

Subscribers get full, survey-free access to the Bozeman Daily Chronicle's award-winning coverage both on our website and in our e-edition, a digital replica of the print edition.