Best in Show: Broadway Animal Trainer Bill Berloni and His Collie Argyle, "There to Put a Smile on Your Face"

News   Best in Show: Broadway Animal Trainer Bill Berloni and His Collie Argyle, "There to Put a Smile on Your Face"
 
Best in Show — a spotlight on Broadway personalities and their animal companions — continues with animal trainer Bill Berloni, whose furry friends have appeared on Broadway in Annie, Legally Blonde, The Audience, the Bernadette Peters revival of Gypsy and many others. Berloni, whose bloodhounds are part of The Dallas Theater Center's current world premiere of Moonshine: That Hee Haw Musical, is also the subject of the Discovery Family Channel series "From Wags to Riches."

What is your pet's name, and is there a story behind it?
Bill Berloni: Argyle. I got Argyle from a casting call we held for Chitty Chitty Bang Bang in 2005. He came from Herding Dog Rescue of Long Island. As a child, I had a dog named Rexie who was my best friend. In my adult professional career, no one wanted a "Lassie" dog, so when I had the opportunity to adopt a collie for a show, I jumped on it.

Breed? Age?
BB: Long Haired Collie, 11 years old.

How did you find your pet?
BB: Chitty Chitty Bang Bang called for eight dogs to run in a pack that would have been found in the English countryside. I decided to hold an open call and invite all the shelters in the tri-state area to bring dogs, and there was Argyle. He was one of four dogs we adopted that day.

Berloni, as a child, with Rexie
Berloni, as a child, with Rexie

What is the one thing your pet has eaten that he/she shouldn't have?
BB: By the time Argyle was nine months old, and before we got him, he ate two socks and needed surgery. Knowing that was his history, we made very sure he never got into anything like that.

What person, living or dead, does your pet remind you of and why?
BB: Argyle reminds me of the comedian Red Skelton. I remember being a kid and watching his TV show and Red was always kind, helpful — there to put a smile on your face. That is Argyle. Where does your pet sleep?
BB: Argyle has a suite in our home where he sleeps with two female dogs who play Sandy. He is their Alpha dog.

Is this your first pet? If not, elaborate?
BB: Argyle in not my first pet. As a theatrical animal trainer, I have rescued and owned over 200 animals, all rescues. But Argyle reminds me of my first pet. You never forget you first love.

Do you use a groomer, no groomer?
BB: We groom Argyle ourselves. His hair is so long and beautiful if you don't brush him regularly, he will may badly.

Do you dress your pet? If so, what is his or her favorite, or least favorite thing to wear?
BB: We don't dress Argyle, but you should see the outfits our Legally Blonde chihuahuas have!

Berloni and Argyle
Berloni and Argyle

Best Halloween costume?
BB: We put a fake sheepskin on him, and he was a "wolf in sheep's clothing."

Best trip with your pet?
BB: Best trip with Argyle is always Times Square and the bright lights of Broadway.

Favorite Treat?
BB: Argyle has Irritable Bowel Syndrome from all the surgeries he had as a pup. He is on a special diet, but a special treat for him is baby food. Yum!

Does your pet do tricks/commands?
BB: Besides being trained as an acting dog, he does a great "Lassie" impersonation by holding up a hurt paw.

If you could talk to your pet for five minutes, what would you ask him or her?
BB: If I could talk to Argyle for five minutes, I would thank him for being the best dog and taking care of my daughter, Jenna, when she was smaller. She told me he pulled her out of a frozen pond when the ice broke. I would just express my gratitude for taking care of us.

Berloni and Argyle
Berloni and Argyle

Does your pet have a best friend?
BB: Argyle's best friend is my daughter Jenna. He loves me, but took care of the kids first and then came home to me.

Is there a pet product you swear by that you can't live without?
BB: Furimator, a special brush for long hair. It has been so helpful with his coat over these years.

If your pet was a character in a Broadway show, who would that character be?
BB: He has been a character in a Broadway show!

If there was one thing you would want people to know about your pet, what would it be?
BB: If there was one thing I would want people to know about Argyle is he is the dog everyone wishes they had as a friend.

You and your pet go on a talk show. What is your anecdote about him/her or his/hers about you?
BB: During Chitty, we went to do a press event for the Macy's Day Spring show, and we discovered Argyle dislikes big balloons. He slipped his collar and was running wild around the show. I made a mental note to myself, no balloons ever in our house.

Most embarrassing thing your pet has ever done in public or when guests are over.
BB: The most embarrassing thing Argyle does is act so trained everyone thinks he is "Lassie." I have to keep telling people I trained "Sandy," "Sandy!" But he looks at me with that big Collie smile, and I forgive him.

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