Best in Show: Melissa Errico On Pepper Malcolm McEnroe, the Terrier Who "Completes Our Family"

News   Best in Show: Melissa Errico On Pepper Malcolm McEnroe, the Terrier Who "Completes Our Family"
 
Playbill.com's newest feature, Best in Show — a spotlight on Broadway personalities and their animal companions — continues with Melissa Errico, the Tony-nominated singing actress who recently released three tracks on Ghostlight Records — "How Are Things in Glocca Morra?," "Walking Happy" and "Maybe Someone Dreamed Us" — to benefit The Bowery Babes, Errico's charity that offers free support and resources to Manhattan mothers and families.

What is your pet's name, and is there a story behind it?
Some have asked why Pepper's full name is Pepper Malcolm McEnroe. The middle name is due to Malcolm Gets. The actor, pianist, storyteller, genius we all love. "Pepper" was an impulse of Victoria's and ironic because it was a nickname I had given my husband when we met, due to a 1950s magazine ad I had seen for pepper (the spice), which showed an athletic man about to sprint. Hashtag #McPepper for those on Instagram.

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Breed? Age?
Yorkshire Terrier aka Yorkie. Now 8 months old. However, someone on Facebook informed me that Pepper's tall ears and longer face seem to indicate that he has something of the Silky Terrier in him, which is an Australian breed. So, maybe Pepper has a hint of Aussie.

How did you find your pet?
My eldest daughter Victoria (age 8) was in her first tennis tournament and lost in the semifinals. She was bummed, but not too much. She just needed company and a little fun. When we got back to the city and were in a bustling midtown east, I told her I would take her to buy her first pair of earrings. (She had her ears pierced 6 weeks prior and was now allowed to change her earrings.) So, I parked the car in an unfamiliar neighborhood, assuming we would find a jewelry or kids shop eventually. As we were walking, we passed a pet shop, and a bit of a gritty one. (I am totally allergic to animals. For over a year, my three kids have BEGGED for a dog and for me to see how I do with "hypo-allergenic" dogs.) Just for fun, I said, "Let's go in, and let's see how sick Mommy gets." We entered, and now the music begins.

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What is the one thing your pet has eaten that he/she shouldn't have?
He ate a Cinderella book. There was also an American Girl doll ballet slipper, but that wasn't digested, just really chomped on. He ate a real daffodil in a garden outside our building. I have it on video (attached):

What person, living or dead, does your pet remind you of and why?
He reminds me of Oliver from the musical. Because his look and color is so Victorian, and there's just something so "not-posh" and earthy about him. And yet he has pride. I find him to be the perfect creature — he's a real, grounded dog, not a cutesy toy. Yet he's small and delightful. Where does your pet sleep?
He has a very attractive little blue bed in a crate, which I keep open in a little bathroom which has a baby gate. There are two Wimbledon towels over the crate to make it dark and cave-like. I use those towels because they are my husband's player towels, and Pepper gets the "boy" decor in a pretty girly house. He naps in a colorful daybed.

Is this your first pet? If not, elaborate?
I grew up with a cat I named Felix. I loved Felix, and started a local club in my town (Plandome, Long Island) called The Kitty Cat Club, where girls could join as long as they loved my cat. My mom made iron-on T-shirts for half-dozen members. My brother had his own dog.

Do you use a groomer, no groomer?
Groomer! I don't like Yorkie mustaches! I like Pepper's natural face shape. I don't know why people like that down-turned Yorkie mustache; I believe it's a grumpy look.

Do you dress your pet? If so, what is his or her favorite, or least favorite thing to wear?
I'm sorry to admit that my little Oliver is also a fashion icon. I have a dozen polo style shirts for him in a great array of colors. I think he is a young McEnroe boy, and needs to look sporty and handsome.

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Best Halloween costume?
We haven't had one yet. "He'd make a good a pirate," chimes in my husband.

Best trip with your pet?
The ones where he didn't throw up on me in the car.

Favorite Treat?
Expensive raw hide sticks with chicken wrapped. Or dried lamb lungs (eeeek, I know.) Or Cheerios.

Does your pet do tricks/commands?
Oh, yes!!! We've needed the help of two trainers, first because he had all kinds of fears, eating issues and total terror of being outside. (He was never aggressive or yappy though; he's so utterly dear and gentle.) He has changed so much since we first got him. Like small children, he needed structure and routine to begin to feel safe. Now, we have begun the fun stuff, and he learns FAST. He dances, jumps, bows. He's gonna get a Broadway job before I do! We've even gotten him into "rollover" after much reluctance. I love it so much (and kiss him wildly) that now sometimes he just looks at me and starts spinning on the carpet.

If you could talk to your pet for five minutes, what would you ask him or her?
"Where were you really born? How did you get to New York City?" That pet shop wasn't the most honorable place. I've called and gone back and gotten really vague answers. (I've since learned about the politics. I didn't know the variables but now I do, and I want to support change for animals' rights. Sign me up!) Does your pet have a best friend?
Yes, a little grey elephant that squeaks. He used to hump one of my kids' dog toys (they would say, "Mom!! Look, Pepper is doing that dance again!!"). It seemed a tolerable relationship but then he ate her eye off, and her stuffing was very messy. She went down the garbage shoot. I tried to get a new sturdier girlfriend, but there hasn't been the same chemistry since.

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Is there a pet product you swear by that you can't live without?
Mango-scented grooming wipes!!

If your pet was a character in a Broadway show, who would that character be?
You got that answer already!

If there was one thing you would want people to know about your pet, what would it be?
He completes our family.

You and your pet go on a talk show. What is your anecdote about him/her or his/hers about you?
I would let him spin on the rug and explain how many Cheerios he thinks that's worth. I can show Jimmy Fallon how Pepper likes to sit on my shoulder like a parrot.

Most embarrassing thing your pet has ever done in public or when guests are over.
He pooped at church.

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