Golden Retriever Star Frank

Animal talent means bright lights, cameras and drool
Shanna Hogan, Tribune

Drool glistens down the sides of Frank’s cheeks as he poses under the studio lights. Anxiously, his eyes fixate on a dog treat, which the golden retriever’s talent agent holds near the camera lens.

The studio lights flash as photographer Dan Vermillion snaps a few shots of the dog, causing the wet drool to gleam. “He’s getting a little slobbery,” says Vermillion. “Let’s get a tissue.” Frank’s owner, Tricia Herber, 16, of Mesa walks up with a paper towel and gently dabs Frank’s cheeks.

“Maybe it would work better if I put the treat in my pocket,” says Frank’s agent Cris Rankin. “I don’t know, I haven’t had to make a dog talk yet.”

By the end of the photo shoot, they have enough shots of Frank’s mouth to make him appear to talk with digital animation. His speech will be used for a Web advertisement to promote dog vitamins.

Rankin frequently deals with drooling problems. She and her partner, Gerry Kline, own the Valley’s only pet talent agency, A1 Animal Talent, which casts East Valley pets in print ads, television commercials and films.

While the animals get the star treatment, it’s not always glamorous for their owners. It takes training, grooming and the flexibility to drop everything to bring the pet to a photo shoot or casting call. And it’s often for little money.

There’s more . . . .