My dogs, the movie stars

My dogs, the movie stars

Like most people, Danièle Pichette adopted her first puppy just for fun. Fast-forward 9 years and her dogs now have full-fledged careers. And so does Danièle!

July 7, 2019

It all started when Danièle Pichette opened a CrossFit centre. One day a client came to train with his dog. It turned out to be a pivotal moment: Danièle had always wanted a dog. Her partner dreamed of having a Jack Russell, just like Jim Carrey in “The Mask.” Shortly afterward Squat came into their lives.

A few years later, the couple moved to a farmhouse on a large property. Perhaps because of the woods and the land (ideal for dogs to run), the couple realized their century-old home would make a perfect "giant niche” for Jack Russells. Most mornings Danièle didn't want to leave the idyllic paradise to go to a job she no longer enjoyed. Moreover, she had just discovered her passion for dog training, which began to take up much of her time. That became her focus.

Danièle's training and networking paid off: she ended up landing Squat his first advertising contract with Fido. There was no doubt about it: they had been bitten by the media bug! This exciting career development prompted Danièle to quit her job and leap into the void with her dog. Today, the family has grown with the arrival of two more Jack Russells, named Spade and Salty.

If you don't take time to train a Jack Russell, rest assured it's the Jack Russell who will train you," says Danièle. “You must make the dog work. It can be as simple as carrying a backpack, but the Jack Russell needs to perform a function. When left idle, they tend to develop bad behaviour."

Just recently, Danièle landed their biggest contract yet. Spade, her female, was assigned an important role in an American film shot in Toronto featuring a well-known celebrity. Fans will soon be able to see Spade on the big screen in “My Spy,” a family comedy starring Dave Bautista of “Guardians of the Galaxy.” The experience was extraordinary for both dog and trainer. Spade impressed everyone on the set, even his mistress. Since then, calls have been pouring in, each presenting bigger challenges.

It's not all fun and games, of course. Danièle works diligently with her dogs: she teaches them how to learn. In the world of cinema, there is always a difference between what's originally planned and what the dogs must eventually perform on the set. The communication and trust between Danièle and her Jacks are key to success.

Between each contract, the dogs get to rest, to enjoy a time-out from the set. While the Jacks need to stay active, they're given their just rewards. After all, they've certainly earned it. Danièle is keenly attuned to her Jack Russells. She senses how satisfied they are after a movie or commercial shoot. As their trainer, she ensures her dogs get the opportunity to lounge for several days. This is where her spouse joins the fun. He's been named "master of the couch." As Danièle emphasizes, it's important that everyone plays their own role in the well-being of these 3 little rising stars.

Cover: Catherin Arsenault

Photo 1: Salty in flying action at the Waterback Show in Syracuse, NY.
Photo: Michael J. Okoniewski-NYS Fair

Photo 2: At the National Jack Russell Terrier Club of America competition in Maryland where 700 dogs went head to head.
Photo credit: Personal collection

Photo 3: Salty, Squat and Spade pose proudly. They've grown used to winning awards.
Photo credit: Personal collection

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