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New show takes viewers backstage with top animal trainer

Posted by on July 31, 2015 at 12:11 PM EST

The Associated Press
Leading animal trainer Bill Berloni teaches his dogs to bark, beg, bow or sit, stand and shake for films, the stage and TV. In retirement, the animal actors join dozens of pets in 58-year-old Berloni’s menagerie, led by a macaw who has never acted, but belts out hits like Tomorrow and It’s Raining Men. All were found in shelters, and Berloni reckons he’s rescued around 150 dogs since the late 1970s. One, a Chihuahua called Chico, player Reese Witherspoon’s pooch Bruiser in Legally Blonde: The Musical. Another played Sandy in the original stage production of Annie and didn’t miss a Broadway show in seven years, making her its longest-standing canine actor.

Now the Discovery Family Channel is bringing this motley crew to reality TV with the show From Wags to Riches with Bill Berloni, which airs next week as the channel’s debut original series.

Berloni was previously honored by the Tony Awards for excellence in theater and it’s a first reality series for him as well.

And he insists that, while dogs are natural performers, he’d never train a wild animal.

But his unusual career as a real-life Dr. Doolittle has landed Berloni in hot water on occasion. His daughter’s pre-school called him in about his daughter’s ‘over-active imagination’. She’d told staff her Dad was playing with Elmo on Sesame Street – and he really was!
• WATCH: From Wags to Riches with Bill Berloni,9pm, EDT, Aug. 6, Discovery Family Channel.
Photo: David Johnson/Discovery Communications via AP


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