Some West­min­ster show dogs are show busi­ness dogs, too


They’re show dogs with star power.

Sprin­kled through the more than 2,800 dogs com­pet­ing at this year’s West­min­ster Ken­nel Club show are furry faces that view­ers might have glimpsed in movies and TV shows, stage pro­duc­tions, mag­a­zine pages and ads for ev­ery­thing from phone ser­vices to phar­ma­ceu­ti­cals.

Mag­neto, for in­stance, is a strap­ping, 180-pound looker billed to play op­po­site his fel­low Leon­berg­ers at West­min­ster on Tues­day. He’s a grand cham­pion in the show world, has ap­peared in the­atri­cal pro­duc­tions in­clud­ing “An­nie’’ and “Peter Pan’’ and has strut­ted in a fash­ion show.

His Leon­berger house­mates also have stage and screen cred­its. Two of them, in­clud­ing for­mer West­min­ster com­peti­tor Mr. Amer­ica, ap­peared along­side Den­zel Wash­ing­ton and Bill Pull­man in the 2014 ac­tion movie “The Equal­izer.’’

As ca­nine per­form­ers, “some­times, they blow me away,’’ owner Morgan Avila says.

Equally at home in show busi­ness and the show ring, some West­min­ster dogs have racked up re­sumes many a hu­man ac­tor might covet. Just a sam­pling from the reels of Christina and Tay­lor Pot­ter’s four dogs, which com­peted Satur­day in agility:

Hud­son the golden re­triever barked along with “Live from New York, it’s ... !’’ as then-pres­i­den­tial can­di­date Mitt Rom­ney’s dog on “SNL’’ in 2012 and added to the comic re­lief in the 2011 Paul Rudd film “Our Id­iot Brother.’’

Morgan, a Chi­nese crested, served as a de­sign in­spi­ra­tion on a 2006 “Project Run­way’’ episode. Ch­ester, a berger Picard, has lent his shaggy brio to com­mer­cials for MasterCard, Ver­i­zon, Con­air and QVC.

“We thought it would be some­thing just fun to do, and then it turned into a sec­ond job,’’ Christina Pot­ter laughs.

But it’s worth it: “Any train­ing you do with your dog is bond­ing,’’ says Pot­ter, a fed­eral court in­ter­preter who lives in North Ber­gen, New Jersey; her hus­band is an air­line pi­lot. And when the dogs per­form like stars, “you feel proud of them.’’

Dogs have long played a part in the entertainment in­dus­try, though it’s been scru­ti­nized re­cently af­ter video leaked of a fright­ened Ger­man shep­herd be­ing forced into churn­ing wa­ter dur­ing the film­ing of the movie “A Dog’s Pur­pose.’’

Amer­i­can Hu­mane, the group re­spon­si­ble for an­i­mal safety on the set, says an an­i­mal cru­elty ex­pert found the video was mis­lead­ingly edited and the dog suf­fered no last­ing stress or harm. The entertainment-in­dus­try-sanc­tioned or­ga­ni­za­tion ac­knowl­edged the han­dling should have been gen­tler in one scene, how­ever, and sus­pended the safety rep­re­sen­ta­tive who was on set.

Peo­ple for the Eth­i­cal Treat­ment of An­i­mals, which called the find­ings in­com­plete, urges film­mak­ers to com­puter-gen­er­ate an­i­mals (PETA also has protested West­min­ster be­cause of its em­pha­sis on pure­bred dogs). The Amer­i­can So­ci­ety for the Preven­tion of Cru­elty to An­i­mals op­poses us­ing an­i­mals in entertainment in­volv­ing “any dis­tress­ing or in­hu­mane prac­tices.’’

Own­ers of West­min­ster’s show-biz dogs, who of­ten train and han­dle their own pets for entertainment work, em­pha­size that they make sure the an­i­mals are safe and com­fort­able with what’s asked of them.

Shoots have been a breeze for Ten, a bor­der col­lie that com­peted Mon­day in West­min­ster’s obe­di­ence cham­pi­onship, owner Lara Avery says.


In this Aug. 5, 2015, file photo, Morgan Avila, left, walks Mag­neto, a Leon­berger, as he’s eval­u­ated by Sarah Fraser, as he leaves an el­e­va­tor dur­ing a demon­stra­tion of an ur­ban ca­nine good cit­i­zen test for city dogs in New York. Mag­neto, billed to play op­po­site his fel­low Leon­berg­ers at the 2017 West­min­ster Ken­nel Club show, is a grand cham­pion in the show world, but has also ap­peared in the­atri­cal pro­duc­tions in­clud­ing “An­nie” and “Peter Pan” and has strut­ted in a fash­ion show.

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