The Ingenue - Piper and Hazel
by Whitney Wilde
With the announcement that Uggie has retired from film, who will be the next canine star in the Hollywood galaxy? The answer may be right here in our own Monterey Bay backyard! As a team, Piper Maru and Hazel Bark have what it takes, and both have appeared on stage in local theatre productions with guardian/trainer, Lanier Fairchild.
Piper Maru is a Terrier/Min Pin/Chihuahua/Italian Greyhound mix who was found wandering Salinas at 16 weeks old. Lanier was looking for a medium-to-large adult dog at Monterey County Animal Services Center when, to her surprise, a 10-pound puppy adopted her. Even though very young, Piper immediately took direction and showed no fear. Three years later, they went searching for a look-alike “understudy” for Piper and found Hazel Bark at the Santa Cruz County Animal Shelter.
Though the pups are similar in looks, they each have their own unique personality. Piper a thinker and is all business, calm, patient, and treat-driven. Hazel is an athlete and is excited and ready for fun anytime. Hazel loves to swim, play fetch, and barks “like a mouse.” As Lanier explains, “With their personalities, Piper is the actress and Hazel is the stunt dog.”
Lanier, college educated in exotic animal training and management, has taught her pups over twenty-five different hand and verbal signals. Beyond the usual obedience commands, they know more subtle cues such as “on your mark” and “follow.” Training is ongoing, and she is always working on new moves for fun and to keep the dogs’ minds challenged. The team has won a couple of trophies for “Best Trick” at the Fiesta Dog Show in Carmel Valley. Last year, they won for a synchronized routine that was a parody of the Olympics.
To see how her dogs would react to an audience, Lanier took them to do some street performing in Santa Rosa. The dogs loved it! Piper vibrates with excitement before performing, feeding off the positive energy; and both dogs enjoy the “meet and greet” after each show.
At only two years old, Piper played the canine spirit in PacRep’s Carmel Follies. One or both of the dogs have appeared in the Legend of Sleepy Hollow, Legally Blonde, and MPC’s Anything Goes. Piper also starred in a one-dog show at Pet Food Express during their Grand Opening celebration. Don’t get the idea this was all easy. During Legally Blonde, Piper suddenly refused to go on stage with a particular actress, so Hazel stepped in as the understudy and took over the part.
Piper dreams of having her own sit-com, with Hazel as her stunt double, so the two sat up and begged Lanier to send letters to movie-based animal agents. And Lanier fantasizes about future projects, all with her sense of fun and humor. For instance, she wants to adopt a feline, name her Pied and do the “Pied & Piper Show: Leading the Way Towards Pet Adoption!” Or maybe getting a miniature horse and having a “Dog & Pony Show”? Maybe a team of Totos? A canine mime show?
With this team’s dogged determination and combined talents, there is no doubt that all their dreams will come true.
Piper and Hazelk can be conducted via their guardian, Lanier, at K9actors4U@yahoo.com.