Molly joined my team of acting animals at Timbertops three years ago. I don’t know exactly how old she is as she is a rescue Staffie, but she is a great dog and has settled in to her new acting career very well.

Molly was chosen to train for the last series of Frost – the story line was the breaking up of a dog fighting ring. I worked with a Special Operations RSPSA officer from London to re-create a dog fight and had to train five other Staffies to bark on command, as well as several other actions. Whilst training Molly showed a special ability to act ‘playing dead’ – very convincing!

Opera North got in touch with me a few months ago to say that they were looking for a dog to be part of their new production of Carmen. I was familiar with the opera and was intrigued why they needed a dog. They explained the concept was different from the original version, with dog fighting rather than bull fighting, so I brought Molly to their studios for a rehearsal. She hadn’t much experience of working with music, but she wasn’t upset by the singing or the orchestra. We decided to keep her on the lead for control, but we had to do something about her waggy tail and friendly exuberance – for her role in the opera she is supposed to be Escamillo’s hard fighting dog! She is muzzled for a more menacing effect during her performance and gets a treat when we take the muzzle off (her favourites are cheese or cooked sausages!) She is more than happy with this.

Molly loves her dressing room with her fluffy bed treats and water. If I leave her for any reason I have to lock her in as she has learned how to open the door to go next door to help out in the wig department!

In Act 2 Molly wears bandages to suggest she has just been in a fight. The first time I put the bandages on her she started limping down the corridor. She thought because she was bandaged she must have a poorly leg! I told her she was a silly girl and we were only pretending and thankfully the bandages never bothered her again.

Molly likes travelling so we are looking forward to the trip up and down the A1 to Newcastle this week. It’s a good job too as we have numerous trips to make over the next three weeks to the tour venues, and we aren’t staying over night as many of the cast and production team do.

Molly’s ‘tour bus’ is a very stylish white Ford transit van! It comes with all the necessities a dog could want; bed, toys and water, which keep her entertained. Molly isn’t allowed to eat on the road, not because I don’t want crumbs in the car but to avoid any accidents later on stage! I’ve learnt that the main thing with travelling dogs is to feed early and not during the day, and I’ve made sure Molly has had plenty this morning.

Anyway best dash as we have the opening performance in Newcastle to get to…

Sue Clark
Animal co-ordinater trainer and supplier

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