Life as a canine athlete/supermodel/actress/companion is not as easy as it sounds—there are a LOT of important things you need to know. Just in case any of you pooches out there are planning on giving it a go, I thought I should share some of my experiences.
As a top canine athlete, your handler or trainer always wants your weight to be perfect. Yeah, I know they don’t want you to get injured, and want to extend the length of your life and your career in canine athletics, but does that really have to mean less cookies? My handler takes one cookie and splits it up into four little cookies and truly thinks I don’t know the difference. I do. I just go along with her plan ’cause I figure one cookie broken up into four small cookies is better than no cookies at all. I do have to say though that I have never taken one of her cookies and broken it up into four pieces to give to her one piece at a time, because I think that is mean. Instead I just eat the whole thing and spare her the torture.
Sometimes when you are an athlete you participate in televised events. I was in the Purina Pro Plan Incredible Dog Western Regionals as an agility Demo dog. I got the spotlight all to myself and I ran the best dogwalk I had ever run before. But later, when I was in the ring to do my 30 weave pole and back event, the super nice cameraman who had given me meatballs an hour or so earlier decided to do a close-up on me. I don’t know why, but when he came super close to me with that big camera I kind of freaked out. I thought he was going to whack me with that thing! Mommy was saying: “It’s OK Roo,” and then the announcer said “GO!” and off went the other dog and I looked around for the meatball guy. Mommy was yelling at me, the crowd was cheering, and I was wondering where the meatball guy went and if he was going to hit me with that camera while I was weaving.
Finally I figured out he was gone so I did my weaves. I rocked. The crowd went wild! Mommy says they were cheering for our pal Rugby-a-Gogo, who by then was finishing the weaves, but I know it was because they were so impressed with how well I was weaving.
Here’s what I learned: If you should be in an event that has bright lights and cameras, don’t worry, the camera dude will not whack you with a camera—he will likely just give you meatballs. At these types of events it’s important to meet and greet with your fans. I had lots of fans at that event (they held up signs for me and everything). So I made sure to go stand by them, give them my pawtograph, and take photos. That way I’ll get invited back next time.
When you are a doggie supermodel like me and your photo is in magazines, calendars, and advertisements, your handler/trainer wants you to look as pretty and shiny as possible. I think you might know where I’m going with this…yep, I’m talking about baths. While I pretend like I don’t really mind, it’s only because I use the time during the bath to plot my revenge. You know, like running amok in the house after Mommy sets me down and rolling around all wet on the couch, or better yet, running upstairs and diving under the covers on her side of the bed so that later that night when she goes to bed she finds a damp spot or two.
At the photo shoots, you are expected to behave. You should sit or stand or bark or jump when they ask you to. Luckily, they will reward you greatly for your efforts: With hot dogs. Sometimes chicken. Or sometimes with your favorite toy.
Should you get bored and want to try something else, I suggest you do so. As a Terrier, I am a bit of an independent thinker so on one of my recent photo shoots, when they wanted me to pose with my sister on a bridge over a creek, I decided that a swim would be just the thing for me instead. So I went swimming. How was I to know that Mommy didn’t know I knew how to swim and would completely freak out? She ran and put collars and leashes back on the other dogs, handed them off to the photographer (who was laughing) and she yelled, “RICKIE ROO WHAT DID YOU DO?! COME RIGHT NOW. RIGHT NOW!”
By then I was almost out in the middle of the lake. So I turned around and came back. Then the photographer took muddy dog photos of me, and some of me being rinsed off in the sprinklers. Had I not gone swimming they would have never gotten those types of shots. Mommy says that none of her dogs have ever done anything like that before. But none of her other dogs are me! She even said that when my big sister P.J. Pupp the Border Collie shot a commercial on a golf course she sat, stayed, frolicked, and fetched golf balls right next to a lake with ducks in it and she did not go after the ducks or in the water once even though she wanted to. I guess P.J. Pupp isn’t as creative as me. That’s what makes me extra special!
As a doggie model sometimes they want you to wear outfits. Now, I am opposed to outfits, but humans seem to like them on me. So when it’s a bazillion degrees out and they want to shoot you wearing a wool dog coat next to a cool fountain, it is best to just smile your biggest smile and get it over with. The bigger you smile the cooler you will get and the quicker the whole thing will be over. Should it be winter and you really would like a coat and all they have you in is a collar, just snuggle up to the model—even if they are afraid of dogs—and sigh and lean in close. The photographer will think you are so cute they can’t stand it and your job will be over with quickly.
For TV, film and video work you are often indoors but they make it look like it is outdoors. DO NOT BE TRICKED—even if you like a tree or a bush and want to claim it as yours it is not a real tree or bush. DO NOT I repeat DO NOT claim it. If you do, your handler/trainer will get very upset. Instead sit. Tilt your head. Stand up and walk towards the door you came in from and then do the booty drag and they will take you out promptly. The booty drag is an international sign that you need to potty.
For TV shoots they have very bright lights and often crowds of people in bleachers who sit and watch you do your job. They will cheer and yell and maybe even call you. Ignore them; they do not have the cookies. Your handler/trainer does. Once my sister L.C. Pie was on a game show called It’s Worth What? and they had her in a three million dollar dog collar. When they brought her out the crowd whistled at her and cheered but she was good and did not try to go to them and you know what she got? Meatballs! My favorite! I was there at the time so I know it’s true.
When you are being a perfect doggie companion and spending time with your Mommy on the couch watching TV you should watch Americas Next Top Model. If you do that you will learn to SMIZE (which is smile with your eyes), and other important model stuff too. So you will not only be building your relationship with your trainer/handler/mommy or daddy, but also working on your career at the same time. Another way to build your relationship is to teach your handler how to fetch. Simply take your toy, drop it across the room, and stand there and bark. Eventually they will come get it. When they do, run up to them, kiss them, and run the other way. They will toss the toy again and simply repeat what you did before. Eventually you will have your handler going back and forth and you will have fun and get them some cardio and squats done at the same time.
Public relations is important, so keep your Facebook page up to date. Mine is Facebook.com/Rickie.Roo and I talk to friends from all over the world. Also, if you have a webpage put lots of pictures of yourself on there. Everybody likes an adorable dog photo.
The most important thing is that you stay true to yourself. If you are a Terrier, keep your spunk. If you are a herding dog, round ’em up…you get the picture.
Rickie Roo’s guest post: Copyright © 2012 – Deborah Davidson Harpur, mommy to Rickie Roo. Photo by CowenImpressions and used with permission.
Devin’s Tails: Copyright © 2012 – Devin O’Branagan
Devin O’Branagan is the bestselling author of paranormal thrillers, urban fantasy, paranormal chick lit, comic chick lit, and canine chick lit. She is a member of the Dog Writers Association of America and uses her writing projects to support animal rescue. Visit her website at www.DevinWrites.com to learn about her books and sign up for her monthly eNewsletter.