• Buddy the Golden Retriever from the Air Bud movies also played the role of Comet in Full House.
• Marley from Marley and Me was played by 18 different dogs.
• A border collie named Pal was the first dog who played the role of Lassie, and his descendants followed suit in the later versions of the movies and on TV.
Wishful thinking that. The reality remains that cute as our pets may be, not all of them are cut out for the sheer hard work that is show business. The endless hours spent in the studio or at inhospitable outdoor locations, harsh lighting on the sets, or physically taxing work routines can take a toll on your beloved furry mate.
Therefore, before we get into the nitty-gritty, here's a piece of sound advice―please be a humane owner, and do not look at this as an opportunity to earn money. Enter your pet into showbiz only if he/she happens to enjoy it. As a pet parent, you are in the best position to understand if your dog is feeling fatigued, stressed, or is simply not in the mood to perform for the camera. Forcing your dog to perform will result in disastrous consequences, both for you and the production as well, since unhappy dogs can become aggressive in no time. And of course, and more importantly, it's hardly fair to your pet.
With that safely behind us, let's get down to business.
Admittedly, not every dog will strike gold in showbiz, so it's better to look at the entire exercise as having fun with your pooch, rather than get too serious about it. Here's how you get started.
► Is your dog up to it?
Working dogs need to have nerves of steel, along with a temperament to match. Acting and modeling is not all fun and games, and therefore, not all dogs are suited to a life in showbiz. We're talking about dogs who are patient and calm, do not mind the work, and are consistent with their moods. They should also be friendly, and not mind being handled by any person other than their owner. Stubborn and moody dogs can still be trained to work as models, but as the owner, you will be the best judge to notice whether they are enjoying the experience. If you notice anything awry, do not push your dog into doing something against his wishes.
► Get clicking
The first step to a showbiz job is to put your dog "out there". And the best way to do this is by clicking a fabulous series of photographs of your dog to make up a portfolio. Get versatile with poses and capture your pet's different moods and expressions, and experiment with lighting. You can even shoot short videos of your dog performing different tricks. Well, if not showbiz, these are sure to make your pet an Internet sensation, just like Mishka, the talking Siberian Husky.
P.S. Pictures of your dog in different costumes with the same sullen expression does not count as a portfolio.
► Get out there
The next step is to reach out for work by making your pet's presence felt. There are dedicated agencies like Animal Actors International who represent animals working as models and actors. You can also visit advertising or casting agencies in your city and submit your pet's portfolio there.
Besides, you can also exploit social media websites to your advantage. There are lots of people out there who mostly use Facebook, Pinterest, Tumblr, and Instagram to view pictures of cute cats and dogs, making them celebrities overnight. There are mighty chances of an Internet-famed dog with a million Facebook 'likes' to make it to the silver screen. Did I mention Mishka? Yes, I did. Remember Phteven a.k.a Tuna? Or even Grumpy Cat for that matter? Their fame rivals that of say, a George Clooney or even a Jennifer Lawrence. Getting a modeling/movie/TV gig after a successful stint on the Internet is not unheard of.
► Get your pet ready
Regardless of getting a shot at fame, you must always prioritize your dog's health and happiness. Feed it well, play, indulge in exercises, sign up for behavioral training―there are a lot of things you can do to make your dog happy. And a happy dog is ultimately the one who is open to new experiences and adventures, modeling and acting included.
On a formal level, ensure that your dog is well-versed with off-leash obedience, even with distractions. Taking the American Kennel Club's Canine Good Citizenship test is something that you need to seriously consider, since it has training modules that are not covered by basic obedience classes. If you're serious, this certification is a must, as it gives a sure-shot edge to your pet.
Enter your pet into local competitions to get an estimate of its willingness and ability to enter the glam world. There are several beauty pageants, calendar contests, pet fairs, and dog shows that allow your pet to exhibit her talents. Plus, you also get a fair idea about where your pet stands, and its chances at 'making it'. Talent scouts tend to visit such shows at times, and there are fair chances of being discovered at such events.
And at the end of it all, don't forget that the basic goal behind getting your pet on TV is to have fun. Do not stress over it, don't let your dog stress over it, and you're sure to have the best relationship ever with your pooch.