Wednesday, October 14, 2009

I ♥ a good rescue story: Rescue Dogs Hit the Stage for New '101 Dalmatians Musical' & donations to rescue made by Philadelphia Eagles

Ordinarily I am NOT in favor of any breed of dog or cat making it to Broadway or the big screen because then a bunch of noodle-heads think they want to adopt "that" cat or dog without doing proper research into the breed characteristics and temperament.

That was my first thought when I came upon this article; however, this has a different twist to it and has saved some lives. At the same time, it just may educate a few people about this wonderful breed of dog - that isn't meant for everyone and every family!

It’s been made into a Walt Disney movie and live action film starring Glenn Close, but you’ve never seen the 101 Dalmatians story told quite like this. Embarking on a nationwide tour that kicks off on Oct. 13 in Minneapolis, The 101 Dalmatians Musical is a rousing Broadway-style show featuring 15 real dalmatians who were rescued from shelters and rescue groups across the country.

Staying true to the 1956 novel by Dodie Smith, the musical tells the story — from the dogs’ perspectives — of fictional character Cruella de Vil’s nefarious quest to make a coat from the splendid spotted fur of dalmatians.

Rescue Dogs Hit the Stage for New '101 Dalmatians Musical'
Jeff Sciortino
"All the humans onstage are standing on 15-in. stilts and the set is designed to show the world from the dog’s eye view," the show's producer, Lee Marshall, tells Human actors playing Pongo and Missus, the lead dalmatian characters whose puppies are stolen by Cruella de Vil (played by Rachel York, above), are dressed in stylish, spotted outfits, while similarly dressed children portray the puppies.

"At first, when they asked me to help with the show, I said no," professional animal trainer Joel Slaven says. "When the 101 Dalmatians movie came out [in 1996], everybody saw that movie and ran out and bought a dalmatian without giving it a whole lot of thought, resulting in thousands of the dogs to end up in shelters."

Dalmatians, explains Slaven, are very high-energy dogs who are big and require lots of attention, exercise and a lifetime commitment. "My company [Joel Slaven Professional Animals] is known for taking care of our animals for their whole lives once we adopt them. We use them for a while for entertainment and they are ambassadors for animals in shelters. I’m all about saving animals and finding homes for them."

After talking to the producers and learning that Purina Dog Chow, the show's sponsor, was adamant about using rescue dogs, Slaven agreed to get involved. "We realized it was an opportunity to turn this thing around, and instead of promoting people going out and buying dalmatians for pets, we could actually educate the public on what they need to do if they’re going to get any dog for a pet," says Slaven. (A note slipped into each Playbill distributed to audience members will explain the health-related issues, as well as the time, expense and space required to care for a dalmatian.)

Beginning in January, Slaven and his team of trainers traveled the country for six months, visiting shelters and rescue groups searching for dalmatians. "We were looking for dogs who were confident, secure, social, and not shy or timid," Slaven says. They found 15 dogs with the right stuff. Some of the dogs were emaciated or obese; a few had heartworm. The youngest dalmatian, 9-month-old, Rascal, had a broken leg and was abandoned at a veterinary clinic at just 4 months old. "The owner said, 'I ain’t coming to get him,' " Slaven says. Vets fixed Rascal’s broken leg with a steel pin, and Slaven brought him to live at his training facility in Florida. "It was his personality," Slaven says of why he chose such a young dog. "He was playful and just bouncing off the walls."

For months, Slaven and his five trainers worked with the 15 dogs they had found, devoting most of their initial time to building the dogs’ confidence and bonding with them. In the second phase, trainers began teaching the dogs to perform specific tasks. In The 101 Dalmatians Musical, the dogs take to the stage at the end of Act One and for the show’s finale, in which they cavort in a choreographed set of movements. "I don’t see how this musical is not going to be a big hit," says Slaven.

The show’s lively music is written by Dennis DeYoung, a founding member of the legendary band Styx. "This is not simply a kids' show by any means," DeYoung tells "It’s a show that adults will enjoy because it touches on the idea of true family values. That’s kind of a cliché with some people, but it’s about how families need to love each other and pull together in times of crises."

As The 101 Dalmatians Musical tours the country, the dogs will be riding in style in a giant, purple, customized tour bus outfitted for the animal actors. "There’s no doubt the dogs are having fun," says Slaven, adding that the dogs will be available for adoption after the tour ends. "They’ve never had this before. They didn’t have good lives, never had good veterinary care or relationships with people. It’s nice to see their lives now."

And, if all that good news wasn't enough for you, check this out:

Eagles hand out animal welfare grants

PHILADELPHIA (AP) — Months afterfacing criticism for signing convicted dogfighter Michael Vick, the Philadelphia Eagles are making good on a pledge to support animal welfare groups.

The team on Monday unveiled a program called TAWK, which stands for Treating Animals With Kindness. The initiative aims to reduce animal abuse, encourage spaying and neutering and end dogfighting through public education and awareness.

The Eagles awarded grants of $50,000 each to Philadelphia Animal Welfare Society, the Humane Society of Berks County and the Humane Society of the United States.

Team spokeswoman Pamela Browner-Crawley says Vick is working with children to discourage them from dogfighting.

My feeling is that this should be a monthly contribution!


Sam said...

Good news times two! Thanks so much for reporting this, Scout and Freyja - I can always count on your blog to get all my animal news.

Anonymous said...

Ohhh I love the 101 dalmations musical! I hope it's a great success.

Woot on the eagles doing something right!

Ruby and Penny said...

We think the Eagles should make monthly contributions too.
Love Ruby & Penny

Martha Basset said...

We agree with Sam - that is good new times two!!!
The musical sounds like fun and being two rescued bassets we can empathise with people who buy specific breeds as puppies cos they think they are cute!
They then can't cope with particular aspects of that breed. As you say dalmations are high energy - they used to run beside coaches many years ago so need lots of exercise.
Bassets tend to be rather single minded which some people can't tolerate and want a dog who will do what it's told!
A basset is so not for them!
So we applaud any venture which tries to raise awareness and educate people.
Good post xxx

Martha Basset said...

We have read that again and we dont mean we can empathise with the people we mean with the dogs who find themselves dumped!!!

Sierra Rose said...

Wow! Really interesting about 101 Dalmations. Thanks for posting that. Good news about the Eagles. Interesting how something so awful turns into something really good, but some of the awful part (Vick still on team) remains...???

Hugs and snaggle-tooth kisses,
Sierra Rose

Shawnee the Shepherd said...

Thank goodness Howlywood is seeing the importance of using shelter doggies and educating noodleheads (BOL). They did a grate job with "Hotel for Dogs" and I is so glad to see this is being taken even further to the big stage on tour! Nice of the Eagles to donate but like you said, one time ain't cuttin' it.

JackDaddy said...

You always post the best stuff!


Mango said...

I like that the people are on stilts and the scenery is from a dog's eye view. I hope they find a nice fuzzy Airedale to play the role of the hero.


Khyra The Siberian Husky And Sometimes Her Mom said...

Tank woo fur sharing the story about the dalmatians show! Mom hadn't had the opportunity to read it although one of her reskhue furiends had sent it her way!

As fur The E***** donation - it is a good start - but we still aren't watching them OR the N**.

PeeEssWoo: Woo khan watch my floofy tail and pantyloons anytime!

Ginger Jasper said...

Thats a lovely post thanks for sharing that.. Hugs GJ xx

Mr Darcy said...

Hi Scout and Freyja!
I have just been looking at your lovely blog. Awww you two are beautiful by the way!
Thank you for leaving so many lovely comments on Mr Darcy's blog. It was so amazing the support I got from the animals-with-blogs community and helped me bare the weight of Mr Darcy's last days more easily.
I am sorry that you also lost a friend at a young age. It is so hard to go through.
I can't believe it has only been a little over a week since Mr Darcy left us, because it feels like it has been a really long time. Like every second since he's been gone has been stretched out into minutes.
Writing his farewell and making the farewell clip actually really helped me to get to a better place though. It helped me to remember all the gorgeous moments we had together. I miss him so much but I am determined to feel happy when I think of him and grateful for the time I had with him.
I am honoured you are going to do a post about him and other doggies that left too soon. Feyja and Scout, you obviously have a very generous Mumma :-)
Loved the pumpkins by the way!
Darcy's Mumma
PeeEsss sorry for the long comment!

Alex93andme said...

Sounds great! I do think the Eagles should continue to contribute monthly donations though.

Dog By Nature said...

That's wonderful news...what a great idea for a musical. We have to admit that we are still skeptical about the Eagles and Vick but any effort is better than none.

Teddy Bear said...

Wonderful, wonderful news!!!

Teddy Bear

Benny and Lily said...

Yea! That is pawesome news
Benny & Lily

Farley said...

Thank you for sharing those stories Scout and Frejia :)

chicamom85 said...

That is a really nice story. Thank you my pals.

licks and sniffs, Sasha

KB said...

That's a great story!

I agree, usually, about dog movie stars leading clueless people to adopt animals. But, it sounds like this case is different!

Cloud the Wonder Dog said...

Mom says she remembers hearing about all the Dalmatians that ended up in shelters. So sad. It sounds like they are doing all the right things this time, so that is good news!

And good news about the Eagles. We agree, it should be a monthly contribution!


The Bumpass Hounds said...

That is very interesting about the 101 dalmaitions musical dogs. we think of them being on firetrucks and horse drawn beer wagons. Your thought to do a post about dogs that left too soon reminds us of Chance.


Charlie said...

My mom loves Dalmatians and wishes to have another one if time and house space will provide. Watching 101 Dalmatians reminds her of her sweet, confident and energetic dog- Bruce who already crossed the rainbow bridge.