Locals fetch TV show's interest

Letterman's 'Pet Tricks' tryout held

Staff WriterDecember 13, 2004 

You usually have to be great to make it to TV. And while Kirby, a miniature schnauzer, wasn't great, she may just be good enough.

Kirby auditioned Sunday at the N.C. State Fairgrounds in Raleigh for an upcoming segment of Stupid Pet Tricks on CBS' "The Late Show with David Letterman."

Kirby's trick: plopping a golf ball into a cup. Kirby paused several seconds before responding to the command, "Hole in One."

But Kirby impressed Brian Teta, the show's talent coordinator. Teta said he'll review a videotape of Sunday's audition with producers in New York and pick three to four winners from hundreds of contestants nationally for a segment to air in February.

Teta also was amused by a boxer named Nittany that chased the illumination from a flashlight, as well as a Boston Terrier named Dinkerbell with a bark that sounds a little like "hello" and "I love you." In all, 38 dogs, chickens and birds tried out.

"I've seen the flashlight trick a lot, but he was very energetic," Teta said of Nittany. As for Dinkerbell, she may be out of luck: A talking dog recently performed on the show, Teta said.

Some pets seemed stricken with stage fright.

Max, a 3-year-old mutt from Garner, usually stops any ball that's kicked to him, like a soccer goalie, says his owner, Cheryl Bell. But on Sunday, before an audience of about 40, Max let several balls past him. "I thought the pressure might get to him," Bell said.

"Terrible," is how Natalie Hinton described her dog's tryout. Copper, a basset hound, sat and stared as Natalie's mother, Stephanie, sang "Jingle Bells," a tune he ordinarily barks to. "It's hard with the smell of the other dogs around," Teta said.

Ann Skantz, a retired school teacher and golf enthusiast living in Apex with her husband, Darrell, blamed the par-only performance of her dog, Kirby, on a lack of practice. "We've been planting flowers lately, and we didn't have time to practice," Skantz said. "Usually, she's very good."

Even so, Skantz figures she has one ace up her sleeve.

"I know that he likes golf," she said of Letterman. "I bet he'd love seeing a little schnauzer come out and score a hole-in-one."

Staff writer Amy Martinez can be reached at 829-4884 or amartine@newsobserver.com.

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