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Brutus, a talented Smithfield bulldog in a sidecar, has a shot at Hollywood stardom

August 22nd, 2010 Posted in Arts and Life

Story & Photos by Caresa Alexander

SMITHFIELD—When a called asked Jo Jenkins of Smithfield if they could come and look at her English bulldogs, she didn’t anticipate what would happen from that visit.

Jenkins thought maybe they were interested in becoming bulldog owners and wanted more information. She has three bulldogs, and people often stop her and ask to look at them.

Then Jenkins talked with Ronda Thompson of FireFly Productions and FireFly Film & Video of Cache Valley.

“She called me and she was, like, we are doing a show for Animal Planet and we need a 49-second opener,” Jenkins said.

Out of her three bulldogs, Jenkins thought they would pick Sydney, a unique-looking dog with a long tongue that constantly hangs out of her mouth. But the producers chose Brutus, Sydney’s son.

“They were looking for a male, big, butch bull dog,” Jenkins said. “He is big and muscular and very built and that is what they were looking for.”

Brutus will be in the opening credits of a show called “Celebrity Pets” that will be pitched to Animal Planet. Jenkins said the show is like “MTV Cribs,” but the pet addition. Brutus will “sing” a song performed by country music singer T.G. Sheppard.

“The premise of the song is that he (Brutus) thinks that he is the celebrity, not the celebrity pet,” Jenkins said. “So it will feature him in different wardrobes, coming out to the microphone in a tux, wearing his workout outfit, running in slow motion in the park and playing with kittens.”

Although Brutus can perform regular tricks like sit, shake and lie down, he had to learn new commands for the shoot. Some of the things Brutus learned was to walk up to a microphone and stand in front of it, sit in a director’s chair, ride a skateboard, and ride in a motorcycle sidecar.

To achieve these feats, Jenkins said she had to keep treats on hand at all times. She carried a bag of dog treats and often held them in front of Brutus as he sat in the sidecar. With an orange bandana around his neck, goggles and a leather hat that sat sideways on his head, Brutus watched Jenkins as she walked in front of him, her arm outstretched.

“He is food-motivated,” Jenkins explained. “If there is food involved, he will do whatever you ask him to do.”

Jenkins said the producers already have some celebrity pets filmed. Their famous owners include Barry White, Olivia Newton John and William Shatner.

Although this is an exciting opportunity for stardom, Jenkins said she will pursue it further only if Brutus does well and seems to like it. Jenkins said Brutus is like her 2-year old son—once he decides he is done with something, it is pointless to force him. But for now Brutus seems to enjoy the attention and the treats.

“Give me a wave. Get on your mark. Give me your paw. Good boy!”


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