From ‘Peter Pan’ To ‘Annie,’ Rescued Shelter Pups Become Stars: Meet Nana, Sandy, And Their Trainer [Video]

Whether starring in the recent live broadcast of Peter Pan Live or kissing orphans in the newest musical film version of Annie, the dogs trained by the entertainment world’s most renowned animal expert have one thing in common. They all have been rescued from shelters. William Berloni is known as the pet whisperer most desired by everyone from Broadway producers to Hollywood movie directors.

Previous productions of Peter Pan have featured a human dressed up in a furry dog costume, awkwardly lumbering around the stage. But the team who produced Peter Pan Live vowed to make it even more real by featuring a real dog as Nana, played by a rescued dog from Utah named Bowdie, reported the Woofipedia.

A two-year-old Poodle mix, Bowdie constituted Berloni’s biggest challenge. Her cues were unusually complicated, and she had to interact with multiple actors and actresses during the show. In addition, Bowdie’s first cue came from the very youngest member of the cast, who “rode” the rambunctious dog playfully.

Berloni worked both with the cast and the dog on set for weeks as shown below.

When he learned about the need for a similar breakout dog star for Annie, Bill repeated the process of searching for a rescue dog and then training both cast and pup.

In Annie, the dog actor who responds so aptly to cues is actually a female dog named Marti. She’s a mix between Golden Retriever and Chow, and waited patiently for months in the shelter before Berloni rescued her when he recognized a future puppy star, reported the Bark.

Bill then worked with Marti and the cast, especially young actress Quvenzhané Wallis, with whom the dog needed to bond.

Why choose dogs from shelters? Bill believes that it both raises awareness of the need for adopting rescued dogs and results in motivated, grateful puppy actors, he told the Daily Herald.

Berloni recognizes that some dogs in shelters may have suffered from abuse, lack of love or illness. At his Connecticut farm, where he owns 28 dogs, Berloni seeks to make a difference for every dog he rescues.

“We make them safe, we make them healthy, fill their lives with love and purpose and who doesn’t blossom with that? If I borrowed someone’s pet for a show, all it would be doing is pining for their families. So in this way, we’re not just saving lives, but we’re getting dogs that are very motivated and appreciative to work with us.”

And the result in the case of Peter Pan Live, as the Inquisitr reported, was a dog so well-trained that many felt Nana the Dog was the breakout star of the entire broadcast.

For those who hoped that something would go wrong to make it more fun to live-Tweet, such as the dog peeing on Peter Pan (played by Allison Williams), their dreams of a doggie-disaster were a failure.

Instead, those who came to mock focused on praising Nana.

“The furry member of the Darling household was a total pro. Not only did this canine turn down the missing Darling children’s bed — hey, Nana, if you’re looking to make some extra cash, there are hotels that would value your services — but the dog barked on cue. Give this animal an Emmy!”

And Berloni came in for his share of the virtual dog biscuits tossed for Nana the Dog.

“Honestly, the real champion of #PeterPanLive thus far has been the dog trainer. Berloni is well-known for rescuing shelter dogs and training them for theater and TV productions.”

“#love much that there was a real #dog in #PeterPanLive…trained by the wonderful WilliamBerloni.”

[Photo By China Photos/Getty Images]