“Annie’s” Sandy is Saved!

There’s something truly magical happening on Broadway! This time, it’s not so much of a show per se but rather, the dog that is in it. “Annie’s” Sandy, the terrier that takes on the role of an orphan’s best friend, has now been cast. And the way it happened is enough to warm even the chilliest heart.

The dog, whose name is Sunny, was being kept in a shelter in Houston, a city in which so many stray dogs reside that they can only be kept at a shelter for 48 hours before being euthanized. Sunny had already been there for one day and was just hours away from an untimely end. Unbeknownst to anyone, at the same time William Berloni, Broadway animal trainer, was searching shelters throughout the country looking for the next perfect dog to take up the role of Sandy in Broadway’s next production of “Annie.”

Contacting his network of trainers throughout the U.S., Berloni spoke to one in Houston, who found Sunny, sent Berloni a picture and minutes later, adopted the dog for Berloni. Sunny now lives in Connecticut, on a 90-acre ranch-style estate with 22 other dogs, all being trained for the life of showbiz dogs. There’s no doubt that Sunny has a much better life now than before, but it will still take some time before the dog is ready for performances on the Great White Way.

“She came to us with no tricks, so we have to start getting her used to an audience, bright lights, an orchestra,” said Berloni. “When we learn her personality a bit more and get her working with Lilla, we’ll start putting the show together. Really the dog dictates what happens.” Lilla Crawford is the actress that will be performing the starring and title role of the production.

But Sunny isn’t the first dog that Berloni has taken from the hard life of a shelter to the fast-paced world of luxury and glittering lights; he’s done the same for the dog Bruiser from the “Legally Blonde” films, and Toto, from “The Wizard of Oz.” And he started doing so the first time he needed a Sandy for the original Broadway play of “Annie.”

“Someone told me they had cheap dogs at the pound,” Berloni said. “When I saw the conditions they were living in, I was profoundly moved. So I made a promise to myself that I would only get rescue dogs from then on.”

There’s no doubt that the story of a dog moving from a hard-knock life to one of life in the Big Apple bears a very similar resemblance to the life of the little girl in the very same production in which Sunny will be starring.

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