FROM SHELTER TO STARDOM
Just how does a doggie diva live when she's not in front of the movie cameras?
Pretty much like a beloved family pet, it turns out.
Crumpet, the now 3-year-old mixed terrier who found herself in January 2005 seeking a new home through The Observer's Pet of the Week column, enjoys resting after a run in the rain on her owner-trainer's bed. She also still enjoys a wild race after a rabbit, even if she is in the middle of a movie scene.
Crumpet is now owned by Debra Coe of Chilliwack, B.C., Canada, who operates Coe's Animal Talent Inc.
Shortly after going to Coe in early 2005, Crumpet was chosen to be the leading animal character in the movie "Dr. Doolittle 3."
The movie, released directly to video, will be available April 25, according to the production company. In this latest in the "Doolittle" series, Eddie Murphy is not the star of the story. Instead, the daughter, played by Kyla Pratt, who inherited the Doolittle ability to hear and talk to animals, is in Colorado. She and her four-footed friends are out to save a ranch from developers.
Crumpet, playing the "Lucky" role, is featured both as an amazing dog and as a sometimes wise, sometimes wise-cracking sidekick.
For her role in "Dr. Doolittle 3," Crumpet had to learn many basics of working in front of cameras.
According to Coe, she was trained to follow directions such as going to a mark, obeying stand, sit or down-stay commands, following commands to go to someone or something, and to go with an actor or actress.
And of course, Crumpet learned a few more tricks: speaking, sitting up and standing on her back legs, using her front feet to reach up to an object or an actor, rolling over, walking, running or going in reverse on command and more.
"She is a very enthusiastic learner and worker, so it's hard to pick only one favorite behavior since she enjoys doing it all," Coe says.
Crumpet, a female, gets bored with repetition. In Coe's experience, male animals handle repetition better.
But being a diva doggie has its good parts. Crumpet, Coe says, "feels very special when she gets to wear sunglasses."
Thought to be a terrier mixed with border collie, Crumpet did not adjust well when her original family moved from outside La Grande into town. She was turned over to the Blue Mountain Humane Association.
Her picture and a short description appeared on the Web site Petfinder.com, where Coe was looking for star quality.
A few phone calls from Canada later, Crumpet left for a new life in early April 2005.
Coe quickly learned why Crumpet had not been snatched up.
"Crumpet definitely is a strong-willed dog with the worst high-pitched bark anyone's ever heard," Coe admits, "and has an extreme amount of expendable energy."
That energy did stop filming during the "Doolittle" movie once.
"While the cameras were rolling, a rabbit decided to hop out from some nearby blackberry bushes. (Crumpet's) focus on work was immediately shattered, and off she went in hot pursuit.
"Needless to say the entire crew, including the director, were extremely entertained by this instantaneous sideshow," Coe reports.
The rabbit outwitted her, though.
"After convincing her to return to this realm, she was back in good form in front of the cameras to complete the scene," Coe says.
While "Doolittle" is now in Crumpet's past, and most of the dye job for her "Lucky" role has been washed away, this is still a busy star.
Coe and Crumpet have worked on two commercials, "Bodog" and a new Pledge commercial, and next week she will be back in Los Angeles doing live publicity Â— dye job back in place.
"She will arrive in a limo and walk the red carpet" in Los Angeles, Coe says. "Now, this is really a dog's life."
While Crumpet works to learn new commands, and relaxes at Coe's ranch when not in front of cameras, her trainer reports that there is talk of a "Dr. Doolittle 4."
Will Crumpet get to play "Lucky" again?
"All we can do is keep our fingers and toes and paws crossed," Coe says with a laugh.