Bruiser, the lovable Chihuahua accompanying lead character Elle Woods through her adventures in Legally Blonde: The Musical, is every bit the pampered pooch.
But Bruiser’s life wasn’t always rhinestone collars and pink purses — in the film, Bruiser was abandoned and rescued by Elle.
Andy, the Chihuahua playing Bruiser in the Cumberland County Playhouse’s production of Legally Blonde has taken a similar journey, finding his forever home through this role.
“Andy’s just grown on us,” said Denise Kappel, Playhouse volunteer. “At first, I wanted to help find a good home for him. Now, I think that home is with us.”
Andy, a two-year-old Chihuahua, was among about 40 dogs surrendered last November to local animal rescue A Time 4 Paws in overcrowded and squalid conditions. AT4P took 39 dogs to their adoption center on Cook Rd. for evaluation, treatment and placement in foster homes or with other rescue organizations.
Andy and another dog, however, had escaped from the residence just days before Karen McMeekin, founder of AT4P, arrived with volunteers and local animal control officers. A neighbor caught them and took them to the Cumberland County Animal Shelter.
The other dog quickly found a home, but Andy was not ready to find his forever home. He weighed only three pounds and wasn’t in good health. A shelter volunteer took him to foster while he recuperated.
Andy had a few behavioral issues, however, and a new foster home was secured. He needed lots of love and attention.
From there he went to AT4P. He was adopted twice, but both families returned him to the adoption center.
By May, Andy was deemed ready to be featured at the AT4P booth during the Fairfield Glade Memorial Day craft fair.
Kappel and son, David, saw Andy and knew he was the dog they had been looking for. Denise Kappel had helped find a dog to play “Sandy” in the CCP production of Annie, and casting for Bruiser in Legally Blonde was coming up.
Denise Kappel took Andy to the audition in a pink hoodie with a pink collar and silver crystal “B” initial necklace.
“Director Britt Hancock loved Andy’s proud look and the way he held himself,” Denise Kappel said.
But could Andy handle being carried in a purse? Would he behave on set and on leash as required in the script? Could he handle numerous rehearsals? Would he remember his lines? Yes!
Would the lights and applause bother him? No.
David Kappel, an eighth-grade student at Stone Elementary School, worked with Andy, helping him learn to go up and down steps, walk on a treadmill, be carried in a satchel, and be held by different people.
Denise Kappel committed to getting Andy to every rehearsal and costume fitting and making sure he was ready for the curtain to go up at showtime.
Hancock said, “I’m glad that we can be a small part in his story, thanks to Denise. The cast has fallen in love with him and I know our audiences will, as well.”
Denise Kappel hopes to train Andy as a therapy dog after the show closes Sept. 7, and possibly even take him with her to work at Good Samaritan Society at Fairfield Glade where she works as a physical therapist.
McMeekin said, “While Andy didn’t work out in his first two homes, he has in his third with Denise’s family. I’m a firm believer that there’s a perfect home for every animal out there. Sometimes it just takes a while to find it.”
She added, “It’s doing what’s best for the animal.”
She said AT4P was thankful to learn of the hoarding situation and to the help rendered by other rescue organizations.
“All of the dogs, every single one, has now been adopted,” McMeekin said.