What was once a miserable dog’s life has become a true rags to riches Hollywood tale for one Long Island canine.
Keeper, a shaggy-haired bearded collie/Briard mix, was adopted from a kill shelter in Pensacola, Florida, eight years ago by Maggie Keats of Sands Point.
The 10-year-old canine, who was distinguishable to his rescuers by his crochet-hook tail, has another standout credit: He’s appeared in a movie.
Keeper starred opposite Kristin Chenoweth in the 2016 coming-of-age film “Hard Sell” about a high school senior struggling to keep up in an elite school while supporting his unstable mother, portrayed by Chenoweth. When the family dog, Walter, played by Keeper, becomes ill, the teenager teams up with an attractive runaway girl to get the money he needs from the wealthy students at his school. The film premiered in Hollywood in May 2016 at the Arena Theater and is available on iTunes and on demand.
“My dog plays an integral role in the film,” says Keats, a real estate broker. “He is the fulcrum for the storyline.”
Keeper was not in every scene of the movie, but he had quite a bit of screen time. The filming process took approximately three weeks on location in Mill Neck, Locust Valley, Oyster Bay and on the South Shore.
“It’s rewarding to see him get his fifteen minutes of fame,” Keats says.
The self-proclaimed “proud dog mama” says she never imagined Keeper would become a film star when she spared him from being euthanized nearly a decade ago. When she brought him home, she hired animal behaviorist Mindy Mylett of Glen Head to work with Keeper. Mylett was later hired to cast the role of Walter in “Hard Sell” and brought Keeper to an audition, unbeknown to his owner.
Though she was thrilled to learn that Keeper had been cast, Keats says she is in no rush to ready his acting reel.
“I don’t foresee acting in his future,” Keats says. “He’s semiretired.”