Sweetie, a Jack Russell terrier, bounds across the floor of the Black Swan Theatre to K.T. Vogt as if the Oregon Shakespeare Festival actor were a long-lost friend.
"She has the energy of a puppy," Vogt exclaims as she scratches the back of the 12-year-old dog adopted by John and Judie Jory from an animal shelter.
OSF is auditioning dogs for a starring role plus a back-up understudy in this season's production of William Shakespeare's "The Two Gentlemen of Verona," which runs June 5 though Oct. 12.
Friends of the Animal Shelter volunteer Tracy Gault is continuing to search for additional dogs adopted from shelters to audition for the play.
Interested owners should email her at firstname.lastname@example.org. Include a photo or video of the dog and information about age, weight, sex, breed(s), personality characteristics, commands known, where the dog was adopted from and when, the owner's telephone number and how the owner will make the dog available during the run of the play.
For more information about auditions, visit http://www.fotas.org/news/dog-stars-wanted/.
For information about adopting an animal from the Jackson County Animal Shelter, visit https://www.co.jackson.or.us/Page.asp?NavID=105.
To raise awareness about the importance of adopting animals, OSF is auditioning only dogs that came from shelters.
"We felt it would be a great opportunity to connect with our community," said OSF Associate Producer Mica Cole. "We have a lot of dog lovers in our company who feel passionate about the Jackson County Animal Shelter. Our hope is that by casting a shelter dog, we will be able to bring awareness throughout the run of the play."
OSF invited Friends of the Animal Shelter, a nonprofit group that supports Jackson County Animal Care and Control programs, to find dog candidates for the auditions. One audition was held earlier this week and the final audition is scheduled for March 11.
With her tail wagging, Sweetie was unfazed by the dozen-plus people who surrounded her, taking photos and shooting video as she explored the theater.
"She loves people. People are all potential petters," John Jory said.
He said he adopted Sweetie from a shelter since it seemed like the right thing to do in comparison to buying a dog from a breeder.
Jevon Schelldorf brought his black chihuahua mix to the audition this week.
Named Target, the mellow dog accepted being cradled in Vogt's arms.
"Can I hold you like a baby? You're a good dog — so dignified; so handsome," she said.
Target showed his playful side by playing a game of soccer with a doggie treat.
While most of the auditioning dogs were small, Picasso — a Great Pyrenees with fluffy, polar bear-white fur — reached to Vogt's hip.
J.W. Lyon, Picasso's owner, said Great Pyrenees were bred to guard flocks of sheep and goats, often without the help of human shepherds.
"But this one's a couch potato," Lyon said.
Now weighing in at 95 pounds, Picasso was neglected and underweight by 25 to 30 pounds before he was adopted by Lyon and his wife.
Dog trainer and Friends of the Animal Shelter consultant Bridget Davies brought her adopted dog Lucy to the audition.
The chihuahua-terrier mix warmly greeted her new human friends, showing off a heart-shaped patch of brown fur on her side.
Davies said she had fostered Lucy's mom, a pregnant stray, and then the six puppies that were born.
"I've fostered over 200 animals. This is the only one I've kept," Davies said of Lucy.
Whichever dog is chosen for the play, Vogt said she has a prediction about how the audience will react.
"I know the dog's going to get all the attention," she said.