Legally Blonde mutts in performance mode

Legally Blonde lead Tanya Boyle with Sparrow the chihuahua which, with Luka the bulldog, sets a high standard. Picture: ROBERT PEET

Legally Blonde lead Tanya Boyle with Sparrow the chihuahua which, with Luka the bulldog, sets a high standard. Picture: ROBERT PEET

Opening night nerves may be a concern for some stars of the stage but Sparrow the chihuahua always keeps it professional.

The purse-sized pup and his canine co-star Luka - a British bulldog - performed hundreds of times in the nationally touring production of Legally Blonde in 2012 and 2013.

At the weekend, they reprised their roles as Bruiser Woods and Rufus respectively, for Moonglow Productions' musical at WIN Entertainment Centre.

The dogs learnt their roles under the tutelage of animal trainer Peta Clarke, who dispenses treats according to a scale of deliciousness, with the "really good stuff" saved for the most high-stakes times.

On stage Friday and Saturday, the dogs received pieces of roast beef and roast chicken when they hit their marks.

"Whereas out the back, for going into their crate, they might just get a bit of kibble," Ms Clarke said.

"You can understand that the stage is where they want to be."

Ms Clarke, of Berowra in Sydney's north, at first studied child psychology before realising similar principles could be applied to training animals.

She has spent the past 20 years training all kinds of animals in various countries. Sparrow and Luka are two of five dogs that share her home.

"I've trained goldfish, I've trained elephants, but there's nothing like a good dog," she said.

Luka, who fans may recognise from TV commercials for AAMI, KFC, Woolworths, and an upcoming Virgin Mobile ad, snares regular work despite the reputation for stupidity of bulldogs.

Ms Clarke said the frown-faced hound routinely shattered the stereotype.

Luka could propel a reclining chair into rocking motion while sitting on it, Ms Clarke said, and had once marched down the hall, dragging her own dog bed, after she realised all seats were taken.

Smartphone
Tablet - Narrow
Tablet - Wide
Desktop