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Canines Go Commercial in Doggie Star Search

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TIMES STAFF WRITER

It was a simple bit: Say a few words, get off the stage. But 3-year-old Trevor got stage fright.

The collie-spaniel mix just sat there, wagging his tail.

That’s the way it went for most of the dogs at a pet food company audition Saturday in the parking lot of a local supermarket. More than 50 animals and their owners showed up for the event, part of a national search for a new canine star of TV commercials.

Trevor’s owner, Rick Giachino of Hollywood, wasn’t too worried about the performance. He plans to tape a video for producers, proving that Trevor, indeed, can talk.

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“He says, ‘haa-low’ on my answering machine,” Giachino insisted. “He also says, ‘waa-waa’ and ‘ma-ma.’ ”

There were dogs jumping through hoops and climbing ladders, as well as performing the old standards, rolling over and playing dead. Others played soccer, caught balls or bounced a balloon. Some danced and howled. There also were dogs that declined to do more than look cute into the video camera.

One black poodle, obviously anxious about the whole affair, threw up.

Patti Liermann of Phillips Ranch was among the most serious contenders.

She arrived two hours early to be first in line, wrote all of her commands on the back of her hand and brought two dogs, each well-drilled in their routine.

“I train for at least an hour a day, every day,” she said after the two furry actors ran through their paces, including opening a cabinet and navigating a tunnel.

Barbara Figueroa and her daughter Kiearah, 14, of Lancaster, brought their 2-year-old husky mix to the audition. “He learns really fast and does lots of things, like open and close doors and turn on lights,” said Figueroa. “He jumps hurdles and climbs on roofs.”

This day, after rising at 6 a.m. to make the audition, the blue-eyed pooch did none of those tricks, apparently content to simply visit with the other dogs.

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The audition winner will be notified by mail.

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