Seen on Saturday morning: August 2nd

August 2, 2008 10:30:36 AM PDT

Rescuing dogs from local shelters and turning them into stars... That's the goal of theatrical animal trainer Bill Berloni.

He joined Eyewitness News this morning with his new book, "Broadway Tails" -- heartfelt stories of rescued dogs who became "showbiz superstars."

Q1. What inspired you to write a memoir of your adventures as a theatrical animal trainer, Broadway Tails (Lyons Press; June 2008)?
A1- I had a dream after a bad day at a rehearsal. I saw Sandy's face on the cover urging me to tell the real story.

Q2. You were asked as a 19-year-old college student to find a dog for his musical Annie. What was so groundbreaking about casting Sandy, the dog you found in a Connecticut shelter, to play a major character on stage in Annie?
A2- What was groundbreaking was no one ever wrote a role for a dog. They thought it couldn't be done. Little did I know I had an impossible challenge.

Q3. Speaking of Sandy, how did this lovable stray seal your commitment to working with shelter dogs?
A3- He taught me all the basic lessons about the effect that positive reinforcement can have.

Q3b- How did Sandy have a dramatic impact on your career path and your life?
A3b- After Annie opened, I became a famous animal trainer not only because he was playing a role, but also because he was a rescued dog.

Q4. According to Broadway Tails, you were thrust into the job as animal trainer, and with no formal education. How did you develop your method of training dogs for live performances? Having performed, I knew there were no second chances.
A4- So I tried to pattern the way Sandy acted to the way my dog listened to me.

Q4b- How is your approach similar to parenting?
A4b- I set limits, remain patient, reward good behavior and give consequences for bad behavior.

Q5. Throughout the course of your career, you've also worked with cats, rats, and birds, plus lambs and piglets. Is every animal "trainable?"
A5- No and there are certain species I won't work with like wild animals and primates. Just domesticated animals.

Q5b- Of all the species, which proved most difficult to handle on stage?
A5b- Cats. That's where most of my gray hairs come from. They listen to no one.

Q6- What was particularly challenging about getting eight dogs to perform one simple bit for Chitty Chitty Bang Bang?
A6- Housing and transportation. Would you rent an apartment to a guy with eight dogs in show biz?

Q6b- What problems routinely come with the territory of touring with animals in the troupe?
A6b- Trying to keep consistency. Each theater and city has a new set of problems. So we have to be on step ahead.

Q7. Did any of the animals you've worked with ever have difficulties working with other animals?
A7- When we adopt them, they have to get along with other animals as a basic rule. Once in a while, a dog ends up with us that is not good with other dogs.

Q7b- How do you deal with actors who are afraid of dogs?
A7b- Somehow that becomes my problem. You would hire an actor afraid of heights to do trapeze work? Why not ask about animals? Basically, I use the rules I use for children.

Q8. Would you share a few backstage tricks for getting dogs to act on cue? What works besides treats?
A8- Love.

Q9. How did you train the young actresses who played Annie to be your associate trainers on stage with Sandy?
A9- Kids love to play make believe. So it was basically "let's make believe you are a dog trainer"

Q9b- How did these talented women-Sarah Jessica Parker among them-become part of your extended family?
A9b- The kids really loved these dogs. And if you love my dogs like I do, you become part of the family.

Q9c- Do you keep in touch with former "Annies?"
A9c- Yes, I am particularly close to the first three, Andrea McArdle, Shelly Bruce and Sarah.

Q10. Speaking of family, how were animals instrumental in your courtship and marriage to your wife Dorothy?
A10- When we were dating she asked me what animals I would want if I could have anything and I said "Llamas" because I thought they were funny. Three months later she gave me a gift certificate for two llamas. A month later I asked her to marry me.

Q11. Bernadette Peters wrote a glowing Foreword for Broadway Tails. When did you first work with this great Broadway actress?
A11- She and Mary Tyler Moore founded an event called BROADWAY BARKS 10 years ago. I was volunteering with the Humane Society of New York and met her there.

Q11b- What might fans of her work as an animal welfare advocate find surprising about her relationship with animals?
A11b- Many celebrities lend their names to causes. On a daily basis, Bernadette is helping some animal in some way. I get emails all the time about dogs she has that need homes.

Q12. Let's talk about your latest showbiz success and sensation, Chico, the Chihuahua winning raves in the Broadway hit, Legally Blonde The Musical. What was especially tough about training this feisty little dog?
A12- It is the smallest dog I have ever trained for the big stage. I needed a dog with a big attitude and that attitude made him aggressive. So we had to channel it.

Q13. You are donating a portion of your royalties to the Humane Society of New York, and you work closely with the non-profit organization, Broadway Barks. Why are you such a firm believer in adopting shelter dogs?
A13- Animals are sentient creatures. We don't sit back at mass genocide. Being connected to nature means you feel when forests are cut down, oceans are polluted. And when in our own back yards, thousands of innocent creatures are being euthanized, I can make a difference in that.

Q14. Do you think you have a special gift for communicating with animals?
A14- No, and my book proves I am a regular guy. I spent a lot of time with pets in my childhood.

Q15. What would you most like animal lovers to take away from Broadway Tails?
A15- Simple. These rescue animals are heroes and anyone in the listening audience could have walked into the shelter the day before I did and adopt any of these animals. Please go and adopt a star of your own.

To visit the website, click here.


The right accessories can go a long way in enhancing your appearance, but are you wearing the right jewelry for your shape?

Michelle Madhok, founder of joined Eyewitness News this morning.

Choosing the Right Jewelry for You

Best earrings for your face shape:


  • You can wear most earrings - oval faces are well-proportioned
  • Studs and mid-length dangly earrings will show off your proportions; superlong earrings might make you look too elongated
  • Try: Tracy Matthews Large Gold-Plated Leaf Earrings -- Click here, they are $175 at


  • Soften the face's angles with round silhouettes
  • Create the illusion of length with earrings that have a slight drop
  • Try: 14k Yellow Gold, Coin Pearl, Citrine, Smoky Quarts and Freshwater Pearl Earrings -- Click here, they are $140 at


  • Draw the eye vertically rather than in a circle
  • Try: 14k Yellow Gold Citrine Earrings -- Click here, they are $195 at

    Best rings for your fingers: Long and thin

  • Choose thicker bands and larger stones to balance out fingers' length
  • Try: 8.45 Carat Cabocon Amethyst Ring set in Gold Vermeil -- Click here, it is $100 at

    Shorter and thicker

  • Narrower bands along with smaller stones will avoid visually cutting off too much of the finger
  • Try: 14k White Gold Genuine Sapphire and Diamond Ring -- Click here, it is $290 at

    Best necklaces for your figure:


  • Delicate chains and small pendants will work with your small frame
  • Look for necklaces without too much bulk
  • Pendants are a great way to wear a delicate chain and still incorporate fun design.
  • Try: CZ Clover Necklace in Sterling Silver -- Click here, it is $85 at
  • Try: 22k Gold Plated Rose Pendant -- Click here, it is $189 at


  • Choose more substantial piece that is in keeping with your overall figure
  • Necklaces that fall below your neckline will help lengthen your silhouette
  • Try: Turquoise and Orange Agate Beaded Necklace in Vermeil -- Click here, it is $140 at

    For more information on, click here.

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