A Shetland sheepdog removed from the suburban New York home of a hoarder four years ago is back in town, and performing in a different kind of packed house — in a stage production of John Steinbeck’s “Of Mice and Men.”
Colt was one of 23 dogs removed from the home of a woman in Wesley Hills in 2008, according to the Journal News.
Ramapo police and members of the SPCA wore gas masks to enter the home, the condition of which was described as squalid, and the homeowner was charged with hoarding and neglecting the animals.
At some point, before her trial, she got Colt back, and he quickly tried to escape, getting struck by a car in the process. The accident left him with a broken back that required surgery and a body cast.
The woman later pleaded guilty to a reduced charge of disorderly conduct, relinquishing ownership of all but one of her dogs and paying a $125 fine.
Colt became the ward of the Hudson Valley Humane Society, living in the Manhattan and Stony Point homes of its acting president, Ann Marie Gaudio.
This spring, though, Gaudio got a call from the Antrim Playhouse — located about a half-mile from the house Colt had been hoarded in. They were looking for a canine to play the role of the bunkhouse dog in its production of John Steinbeck’s “Of Mice and Men.”
Gaudio suggested the producer and director audition Colt.
“Colt has the best bio of all of us,” Director Brooke Malloy Ortiz told the “He’s real sweet, a retired therapy dog. He’s not old, so we changed the dialogue to talk about how he has this wound on his leg and his back is broken. And we wet down his fur to make him look a bit more worn.”
In Steinbeck’s story of two itinerant farm workers, an old handyman named Candy has an old dog that one of the men, Carlson, constantly berates and abuses, eventually persuading the boss to let him put the dog out of its misery — an act that foreshadows what’s ahead.
Candy is played by Gordon Wolotira, who, under the director’s orders, was the only one allowed to pet or feed Colt during rehearsals.
The actor who plays Carlson, who yells at the dog several times in the play, wasn’t allowed to bond with Colt at all.
As a result, “Every time that Carlson has to pull the dog away from Candy, Colt growls at him and sometimes sits down and will not budge,” the director said. “We didn’t even train him to do that. But there’s a lot of shouting on stage, so he just wants to stay with Gordon, who has treats for him.”
Colt spends about a dozen minutes onstage, but he provides “some of the most engrossing moments of the play and it certainly gets the audience’s attention,” Wolotria said. “By the time they drag him off, it’s heart-breaking.”
Posted by jwoestendiek June 21st, 2012 under Muttsblog.
Tags: animals, ann marie gaudio, antrim, antrim playhouse, book, candy, carson, colt, comebacks, dog, dogs, f mice and men, hoarded, hoarder, home, hudson valley humane society, john steinbeck, mercy killing, new york, of mice and men, pets, play, plays, production, role, seized, shetland sheepdog, stage, wesley hills
The Wake County SPCA, which received a finger-wagging warning from a wealthy music conglomerate after it had the audacity to use an Abba song to try and save animals’ lives, has managed to get their inspiring lyp-synch video back online.
We showed you the video not long after it was posted on YouTube. And we told you about it when Universal Music Group, the world’s largest music content company, polititely instructed the Wake SPCA, in Raleigh, to take it off.
The SPCA did so, but now it’s taking another chance on “Take a Chance on Me,” the Abba song which staff and volunteers lip synch in the video, all while showing off adoptable pets.
Performing a little magic of its own, the SPCA returned the video online in a silent version, providing instructions on how to link simultaneously to a recording of the Abba song that’s already on YouTube, one that has somehow avoided the wrath of the corporate giant.
If you time your click right, you can hear the song from the other source while watching the SPCA video, which is silent except for a few barking dogs in the background, and the voices of staff and volunteers singing at the end.
The SPCA explains on its website that it came up with the solution after trying to convince UMG that its video was not a commercial, that it was similar to hundreds of other user-created YouTube videos using the same song, and that, as a charity, it was using the song for noble purposes.
“So we begged, we pleaded, we promised to single-handedly bring Abba back to the U.S. pop charts, and finally we tried to purchase the license. The animal loving music rep in Calilfornia reported that the songwriters actually watched the video, and the answer was still, ‘no, it’s a commercial.’ But like we said, we don’t blame them. After all, homeless pets and animal shelters aren’t everyone’s cup of tea.”
Because of its popularity during its short life — 65,000 viewed it on YouTube in six days — the SPCA came up with the alternative viewing method, which, though it requires a little more work, is still worth the effort.
The SPCA says it holds no ill will toward the production company:
“We don’t blame them really. Who could believe that our total budget was only $32? Who could believe that an incredible production company would be so committed to helping animals that they would work for hours and hours without pay? Who could believe that more than 50 volunteers and staff would be so dedicated to helping homeless animals that they would come together and pretend to sing and dance and be silly for the animals? Well, we all can believe this, but lawyers in Sweden can’t.”
Posted by jwoestendiek November 8th, 2011 under Muttsblog, videos.
Tags: abba, adopt, adoption, animals, charity, commercial, dogs, homeless, lip-synch, non-profit, ownership, pets, production, rights, shelter, song, spca, staff, take a chance on me, umg, universal music group, use, video, volunteers, wake county, warning, youtube
A tax on dog ownership? Perish the thought.
But before we perish the thought of a dog tax — an idea being bandied about at the same time that giving pet owners a tax break is being pushed — we’ll at least afford it some further discussion.
The toll dogs take on the environment — their carbon pawprint, so to speak – is the subject of two recent books, Time to Eat the Dog and Eating Animals. The case that the family dog — primarily because of what it takes to make his dog food – puts a bigger strain on the environment than a road-hogging SUV received some further discussion this week on the website, Ohmygov!
Ohmygov! (no relation to ohmidog!) is a news website founded by a government executive, a government contractor, and an investigative journalist to “capture the passion and frustration that only government inspires.”
The ohmygov! piece says the numbers cited in “Time to Eat the Dog” appear solid. “The math may check out. A preliminary independent study has confirmed the claim, much to the chagrin of hippies everywhere. Man’s best friend is Mother Earth’s worst enemy …
“All told, a 50-pound dog monopolizes two acres of land every year for food production alone. If you feed your dog beef or lamb, that figure is even higher.”
That means my dog is monopolizing five acres a year. Then again, he is supporting the American farmer, not to mention the city of Baltimore. Those of us who pay to license and register our dogs are under the impression we’re already paying something pretty close to a tax, even if it’s not called that.
Still, the ohymgov! piece makes some valid points, and in a pretty level-headed manner — one that even gives a nod to all those “priceless” components of having a canine companion:
“A vehicle won’t lower your blood pressure, or give you an excuse to get out and exercise. A vehicle doesn’t help fight against depression or protect you from an intruder, and try as you may, you simply can’t teach your SUV to fetch. Is it time to tax our dogs? Probably not. But perhaps it’s time to look beyond the old evils when searching for the answers to our ecological problems.”
Posted by jwoestendiek December 7th, 2009 under Muttsblog.
Tags: carbon pawprint, dog ownership, dogs, eating animals, environment, food, ohmidog!, ohmygov!, production, suv, tax, tax break, time to eat the dog
Chitty Chitty Bang Bang, the whimsical musical that opened at Baltimore’s Hippodrome this week, features eight dogs in the cast — all owned, in real life, by a former circus performer who turns abandoned dogs into show biz dogs.
Joanne Wilson is the trainer, handler and owner of Samantha (who stars as Edison in the play) and the other seven dogs with supporting roles.
The musical, which runs through Jan. 18, focuses on a whimsical family of inventors trying to harness the powers of a magical car. That has little to do with dogs, admits Ray Roderick, the director who adapted the Broadway show into the touring production, but he decided to include them as an homage to the 1968 movie, which was peppered with pooches.
“Everyone says never work with children or dogs,” Roderick told the Baltimore Sun. “Clearly, I disagree.”
In the show, the pack of dogs bursts onto the stage and sprints across it at full speed, controlled by a hot dog that Wilson is holding offstage.
Wilson, a longtime animal trainer, began rescuing dogs from the streets after leaving the circus, which led her and her sister to establishing Wonder Dogs, a program that rescues dogs from shelters and turns them into show dogs.
Any dog that can no longer perform remains with the Wilson sisters after retirement, their website says.
The canine cast of Chitty Chitty Bang Bang includes Buddy, a rat terrier; Penny, a a Pomeranian, as well as Lucky, Bear, Cory, Percy and Sugar.
Wilson and her husband follow the show from town to town in their dog-filled van — including the eight dogs in the show, five more of Wilson’s other dogs and another that belongs to a cast member.
(Image from wilsondogs.com)
Posted by jwoestendiek January 9th, 2009 under Muttsblog.
Tags: baltimore, chitty chitty bang bang, dogs, hippodrome, joanne wilson, performance, performing, play, production, samantha, touring, wilson dogs, wonder dogs
The play is based on Paul Auster’s 1999 novel “Timbuktu,” a dog-narrated tale of a hobo poet and his canine companion, Mr. Bones, whose wanderings come to an end in Baltimore. (Auster was profiled in Salon about seven years ago.)
The Croation production, directed by Borut Separovic, premiered in Zagreb earlier this month.
The director cast a dozen strays from a Zagreb animal shelter, with the main role of “Kosta” (Mr. Bones) played by Cap, an eight-year-old champion border collie.
The play consists mainly of a 45-minute monologue by Mr. Bones, with narration provided by an actor from his chair in the audience. Mr. Bones, according to an AFP article, receives quiet orders from instructor Alen Marekovic in the front row as he recounts the story of his life with his deceased master Willy.
“It’s a story that emphasises the incredible love between a dog and his master, a homeless person,” Separovic told AFP.
“Timbuktu offers a therapeutic insight into how not to interpret democracy solely through rights, but also through responsibly and solidarity towards others.”
At one point, the 12 stray dogs come on stage, a net falls between them and the audience and the play switches to the style of a documentary. The narrator tells the audience: “These dogs have a story which resembles that of Kosta’s. We call on you to provide them a home. You can contact me after the show.”
“For me it was extremely important that real, abandoned dogs appear in the play and be given a chance to be adopted,” said Separovic.
Separovic stressed the play also aimed at focussing attention on the fate of homeless people, 12 of whom play a role from the audience.
The team hopes that all the stray dogs involved will be adopted during the 11 performances in October.
Separovic said he set out to enlighten audiences through the project, which he says he created for his 10-year-old daughter Katarina and dedicated to his 13-year-old black labrador Max.
“I would like young people to understand that it’s important to take care of others, those who are in a worse situation then we are,” he said.
Posted by jwoestendiek October 21st, 2008 under Muttsblog.
Tags: animal shelter, baltimore, borut separovic, croatia, dog, hobo, homeless, homelessness, kosta, mr. bones, novel, paul auster, play, poet, production, stray dogs, timbuktu, zagreb