Hermosa Beach movie star poodle makes it in Hollywood
Gaby Griffith Garland has a hectic schedule. As a local TV star, she’s often on the road with her agent Judy working long hours with difficult directors.
“She’s really funny and does pretty much what she wants,” Judy Garland, Gaby’s agent, trainer and companion said. “If she doesn’t want to do something she lets me know, and she doesn’t like to work without treats.”
Gaby, an 8-year-old poodle from Hermosa Beach, has starred in commercials, movies and most recently, the REELZChannel TV show Beverly Hills Pawn.
“Hi, I’m Gaby and I’m a star and I have the sunglasses to prove it,” Gaby said, via human voice over on the TV show Canine Connection. “I like to skateboard with my mom, I always look forward to pushing my cart for a good cause and I love my clothes. It’s hard work, but that’s what me and my mom do.”
The National Geographic Explorer reality dog dating show featured Gaby riding a skateboard with sunglasses and pink bows in her hair. The gray teacup poodle looks at the camera while a young girl’s voice says her thoughts.
“I stay behind the camera when she’s filming,” Judy said. “Most of the time when you see her looking at the camera, she’s really looking at me.”
Gaby and Judy met when Gaby was six months old. Judy’s poodle Amber had recently died after a ferocious pit bull attack.
“A friend of mine who loves poodles knocked on the door and had her in a little box,” Judy said. “After many wines my girlfriend and I decided to name her Gaby Griffith Garland because of the numerology. I wanted her to be in the entertainment industry so we did the numbers on that for her name and the three G’s were important.”
For the first six months of their relationship Judy was still in mourning over the loss of Amber.
“We couldn’t bond and it was really hard,” said Judy. “So I brought her to Yellow Brick Road [Doggie Daycare] and they asked me if I ever thought about giving her up. It was like somebody slapped me in the face, of course I couldn’t.”
While at the training school, Judy and Gaby worked through their complicated relationship and have been inseparable every since. Gaby enrolled in LE PAWS, a Hollywood Pet Agency that trains dogs for work on set where she was taught by Omar Von Muller, the trainer of Uggie – the Jack Russel terrier from the movie, ‘The Artist.’
“She’s a quick study,” Judy said. “I taught her to push a little shopping cart in five minutes, teaching her to skateboard was a little more tedious. It took her a day or two.”
When on the set, Judy said that Gaby is focused and motivated.
Before filming, Judy and Gaby go on a location sniff to ‘get all the craziness out’ and get a feel for the set so she’s more comfortable once the cameras start rolling.
Since beginning her career, Gaby has been featured in the 2012 feature film Foxfur, an online dating documentary Clickin’ for Love as well as a Doritos commercial and other advertising campaigns and TV shows.
“There’s been so many that I stopped writing them down,” said Judy.
Gaby’s no stranger to the fashion runway either.
“She did a show for Linda Laudermilk during fashion week and wore a $700 outfit,” Judy said. “I wanted her to walk down the runway so the press could see it, and so did Linda, but the problem is that models are freaked about dogs, especially little dogs because they could get tripped because they’re walking around in those high heels – so the model that had Gaby held her which was too bad, but it wasn’t my call.”
She was even featured in a pilot TV show featuring animal exorcisms.
“I gave them Gaby because she does have some snarly habits especially when she’s being brushed,” Judy said. “Brother Carlos came to our house and the film crew was filming it – I was sitting here on the couch and Gaby was between me and Brother Carlos. He said, ‘Okay I’m going to pray over her, now I’m going to do the exorcism.’ I didn’t know what to expect, the crew didn’t know what to expect and she went wild and flopped over. It scared the dickens out of me. I screamed and I looked at the crew and they were shocked. They said it was the best, they’re trying to sell the show off of what she did.”
The exorcism worked for about two weeks, Judy said.
“She is actually better, but not great,” Judy said. “She has an attitude and she’s just a little diva.”
Because of the amount of things Gaby has accumulated throughout her career, she even has her own room in Judy’s Hermosa Beach home that has boxes of costumes, trophies and photographs.
“Often I work with a lot of producer and director types that have never worked with animals before and I’m always prepared for that,” Judy said. “I end up giving them advice – because you have to know the animal’s temperament and they don’t. It’s like working with children, you never now how they’re going to react.”
Judy said that the biggest mistake an animal’s trainer can do is let other people give the actor treats because then they no longer pay attention to the right person on set.
“And a lot of people just don’t like dogs, and of course those are the ones the dogs will always run to,” said Judy.
The unexpected nature of animals is what is the most difficult part about filming, Judy said.
“She’s professional and always hits the mark,” said Beverly Hills Pawn Producer Tony Amatullo. “She wears the costumes and she’s pretty great. It’s challenging working with animals, you never know what they’re going to do, but Gaby has her routine down so well and Judy’s just a great trainer.”
Gaby’s signature trick is pushing a tiny shopping cart and she’s been featured in commercials, TV shows and has won numerous talent competitions with the unusual skill. She also knows how to bite a pant leg on command, walk on her hind legs, and jump over objects.
“When you put them on set they want them to do about 25 basic things like the basics of sit, stay, come, speak, rollover – all of which she does,” said Judy. “Those are the basics that any dog should know in order to be considered.”
Judy said that after Gaby started staring in TV shows and commercials she began noticing how many animals work in the entertainment industry.
“People always asked me how to get their dogs into the movies,” said Judy. “It’s hard – you don’t just put them in the movies, they’ve got to be trained and be well behaved and focused. Focus is the most important thing in my opinion.”
Often times Judy finds casting calls for animals on Craigslist or by word of mouth. Pay can range anywhere from $50 to $1,000. However, Judy said that poodles aren’t in high demand in the entertainment industry now.
“People want bulldogs or Chihuahuas,” Judy said. “But she’s so unusual looking that’s what usually gets her the work. But you can’t take the rejection too seriously.”
Judy and Gaby go everywhere together.
“Wherever I go she goes with me,” Judy said. “She stays in my purse and it’s great, I can take her anywhere and nobody knows she’s there. She knows not to make a peep because she knows she’d be busted if she gets caught.”
As part of a fact-finding trip Judy brought Gaby to Thailand with her a couple of years ago, and Gaby was dognapped.
“I left her in my room with the TV set on,” said Judy. “Someone from the hotel staff came in and took her, we never did find out why, and it took the management three hours to find her. I was frantic, I was beyond hysterical to the point that I couldn’t’ even move. She was eventually found, but she was really weird for awhile afterwards.”
Judy never found out who had kidnapped Gaby.
“She’s had a lot of adventures,” said Judy. “She’s really my little soul mate and my best friend.”
Visit http://www.reelz.com to learn more about her Beverly Hills Pawn TV debut.B