Monday, October 6, 2008

Beverly Hills Chihuahua

"With these kinds of movies, it's been my experience, at least, that people always love seeing the dogs," said Mike Alexander, the head trainer and animal coordinator of Birds & Animals Unlimited, a handler whose work has been instrumental to several films and television productions over the past 20 years.The red carpet trip marks yet another amazing step for Rusco, the dog who plays Papi in "Beverly Hills Chihuahua." In an @ The Movies interview Wednesday, Alexander said his new canine star is the one who almost got away.That's because Rusco was at an animal shelter when Alexander found a photo of what believed could be the dog he was looking for. The problem was, after months of searching, the esteemed animal trainer as behind such hits as "A Night at the Museum" and "Charlie and the Chocolate Factory" (he helped orchestrate the film's elaborate squirrel scene) found himself racing against the clock.

"Because there are so many potential dogs to cast out there, it's hard for us to review every single source every single day," Alexander said. "We had one, small picture that I was able share with Disney, and when we got around to calling the shelter, they said, 'Well, he's been here for about two weeks, and that's about as long as they stay here, and we don't reserve him over the phone.' By then, it was about 2 or 3 in the afternoon and I got in my car and rushed down to the shelter, but since it was so far away, I had traffic to deal with."Unfortunately, Alexander arrived at the Moreno Valley Animal Shelter about 60 miles from Los Angeles just a little too late."When I got down there they were just closing the doors and wouldn't let me in," Alexander recalled. "So I went back the next morning and Rusco was still there. So after spending a little time for him, I knew right away, that this was going to be Papi."


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