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Shelter dog becomes working ‘Diva’

Posted on Monday, July 9, 2012 at 2:43 pm

Annie Stars

Two of the stars from the recent production of “Annie” pose for a photo during rehearsal. Alexis Fox, as Annie, and Shug, who played Sandy in the play, are pictured here. Shug, along with her brother, Blanco, were adopted from the Bedford County Animal Shelter.

When Charlie and Angie Beyer adopted two golden retriever mix dogs from the Bedford County Shelter five years ago, they couldn’t have imagined that one day their fluffy dog Shug would become a performing “Diva” in the 

Carriage House Players’ production of “Annie”.

“In December of 2007, my sister phoned me from Huntsville. She had seen two beautiful golden mix puppies, litter mates ‘Max’ and ‘Goldie’ on the Bedford County Shelter website,” said Angie.

The original plan was that Angie would adopt one of the puppies and her sister would adopt the other. That day Angie adopted both puppies, and as things worked out, Angie and her husband, Charlie, wound up keeping both of the pups.

“They seemed very gentle, and both were alert,” she said. 

“We named the male Blanco, since he was mostly white, and the female we re-named Shug.”

The couple began training them, and over the years, the dogs have learned basic obedience manners.

“My husband trained them to kennel up and feed on command, and it is funny to watch them respond to verbal and hand commands in unison,” Angie explained. “They are both intelligent and willing to please.

“Shug is a swimmer; Blanco likes to freeze in a point at times, so we feel they definitely have golden retriever or golden lab characteristics.

“Their personalities have remained the same since we first got them; Blanco is more playful and a bit shy at times, but he is the ‘spokesman’ for the pair. Shug is the dominant dog. We feed, kennel and walk her first, or she gets huffy.”

 While Angie has been in CHP for years, when she heard that a dog resembling the character “Sandy” was needed for the production, she contacted the director.

“I told him I had a dead-ringer for Sandy,” she said.

Training for the play started in November 2011 and presented some challenges. Shug hadn’t been around many people other than Charlie and Angie.

“When we gradually introduced her to the cast, she seemed to say, ‘Where have all these people been? They’re great!’”

Once Shug became familiar with the theater, she responded to commands that she would have to obey during the production.

The Beyers enlisted the help of Katie Mitchell, an eighth grade student who helped to keep Shug backstage when necessary.

“We worked on getting her to obey Annie (Alexis Fox) onstage, and they developed a friendship,” Angie said.

Right before the play, the Beyers couple realized they needed a silent whistle.

“We were surprised how quickly she responded – our other dog learned quickly too,” Angie said.

“Shug’s performances were not flawless in the actual production, but she looked great, and it was fun for the audience to see an animal actor,” Angie recalled.

“Our two shelter dogs have been a loving addition to our family. We have been pleased with them and are proud that our fluffy dog, Shug, got the opportunity to be a working Diva for a few weeks!”