Sunny, a two-year-old terrier mix was just two hours away from being euthanized when an animal trainer saw something “special” in the dog and chose to adopt her.
“Sunny was found during a nationwide shelter search for a new Sandy. Berloni has looked in shelters for all of the dogs he has cast in other shows and movies, including Toto in The Wizard of Oz on Broadway and Bruiser in the Legally Blonde films. It all started when he was charged with casting Sandy for the very first production on Annie,” ABC News reported.
“Somebody told me they had cheap dogs at the pound,” trainer William Berloni told ABC. “When I saw the conditions they were living in, I was profoundly moved. So I made a promise to myself that I would only get rescue dogs from then on.”
Following her adoption, Sunny was flown to New York to audition for the role of “Sandy” in the Broadway musical Annie, a role she won.
“Something about her picture appealed to me,” Berloni, the animal trainer in charge of casting the role told ABC News. “We already had three other candidates, but when I met Sunny I thought she’d be a great fit. She’s outgoing, friendly and eager to learn.”
Berloni said Sunny also landed the role because she looks a lot like the original Sandy. Berloni has trained all the dogs that have played the part of Sandy in past productions.
“It’s something about the sad eyes,” Berloni said. “They just get you. It was definitely typecasting.”
It’s no longer a hard-knock life for this dog. Sunny is now living and training on a 90-acre country compound owned by Berloni and his wife.
Berloni said that when Sunny was first picked up, she didn’t know any tricks, so he’s working with her to learn to adjust to city life– cars, lights and noise– as well as learning the tricks that will be required for the role.
Sunny will make her stage debut as Sandy on October 3, 2012.