The Heidi chronicles: The first chapter in the saga of a future (maybe) pet star


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This is Heidi. Earlier this year, she was “discovered” in the park by a pet talent agency; since then, she has embarked on a one-dog quest to break into the business. This is her Hollywood story, as chronicled by Times staff writer Diane Haithman. And this is her “head shot” (the longing look was achieved by placing a biscuit just out of reach).

In L.A, there’s a pervasive sense that everyone is waiting to be discovered — fueled by the remote possibility that a famous director will one day walk in and tap the guy behind the Kinko’s counter to portray, with moving realism, the guy behind a Kinko’s counter.

Being a skeptical journalist, I am far above this kind of thinking — unless it involves the dog.


One day in January, I took my German shepherd Heidi (though her light coloring and small build suggest she’s part Belgian Malinois shepherd, a close cousin), to a park in Studio City, where she was, as usual, ignoring other canines in favor of her red ball, which she monitors with obsessive-compulsive fervor because my husband and I have failed to provide Shepherd Girl with her own flock of sheep. Yet.

That’s when a woman from a pet talent agency approached us and suggested that Heidi come in for an “evaluation.”

She’s a natural; she’s been mistaken for the German shepherd in those display ads with Will Smith for “I Am Legend” and bears a striking resemblance to Rin Tin Tin. Plus, at this particular moment, the agent told me, their agency had no German shepherds among its clientele.

You hear about L.A. parents being approached by talent agencies about their kids, but ... a dog? Yet, as a smitten pet owner, it’s amazing how quickly the mind moves from “Say what?” to “She’ll roll over, but only if it’s integral to her character.”

Of course, Heidi could be a star. She’s cute and sweet and smart and she can run and play and catch a ball... Never mind that these qualities establish only that Heidi is, in fact, a dog.

My mind was already racing, stage-mom style: Should I lie about her age? She’s 6 years old, but she can play 4...she’s big, but she can play small... well, maybe after a few acting lessons. I could see it in her eager brown eyes: Heidi wants this even more than she wants the red ball.

I pocketed the woman’s card. Heidi’s people would definitely be in touch.