This is fiction in that I, servant of my dogs, have written it from the dog’s perspective. You will know what in it is true and what is my speculation of her thoughts and feeling. The final line has two connotations. As many know, we lost our Lexi in May of 2016.
The Show opened!
Last night the show I’m in–the Wizard of Oz– opened and I got to perform on-stage for the first time ever! It was a Thursday night and there were a lot of older people, which was great, since I really relate to that age bracket. I have had lots of practice with my Grandma, after all. Dorothy was about to take me out on stage with the old-looking new leash she had gotten for the part when Jeffery the director said, “No. We aren’t using a leash.” You should have seen the looks on both my Dorothy and my Mom’s faces. Dorothy took a deep breath and I think Mom started praying. No one knew what I would do since I had never been able to show them that I am a born actor. We had rehearsed a lot and I knew my part and did it. When I first ran out to Dorothy on cue and the audience breathed a collective sigh of “Awwwwww,” that sealed it. I knew I had found my calling. I would have done anything to hear that again. Then when I stole the hot dog from the stick like I was supposed to do and everyone laughed, I knew I loved this job more than anything. Dorothy had treats hidden in her socks and gave me lots of them during the play. Mom helped by always waiting off-stage where I was supposed to run when it was time and she always had a treat for me too. I think I am in heaven.
LexiToto the happy Schnauzer
If you wish to join in Final Friday Fiction, follow the link here.
Xena: To start off our not quite WW we want to wish everyone a belated happy St. Patrick’s Day, and feature the back of the green shirt that was printed during Angel Lexi’s second run as Toto in the Wizard of Oz.
Can you find Lexi’s name? The first one to get the right answer will win… oh, never mind; Lucy’s just going to stop me anyway.
Lucy: Next, we want to feature the infamous cone of shame. You may remember that “Lois” showed up at our front door claiming to be Ludwig’s cousin. You can click hereif you missed that one. Many of you were justifiably dubious, and thought it was probably Ludwig in drag. Well, we are here to tell you that you were right! The first give-away (no, not a trip, Xena) was that “Lois” immediately took up Ludwig’s usual place on the old Victrola.
Spying on Xena was such a shameful act that he has to wear the cone of shame, at least until we figure out where Mr. Eleephant is.
Now for our Cone of Shame funny, he, he, he.
Thanks to Comedy Plus for hosting the Wordless Wednesday Blog Hop!
XOX from your friends, Lucy and Xena Schnauzer Warrior Princess
Three years. Three years since Lexi lost her battle and I was forced to let her go. I can’t lie. It wasn’t pretty. I waited too long? She had seizures all night and was mostly gone by the time the needle went into her vein. Don’t we always feel guilt, thinking we either acted too soon or waited too long. I’m one of those waited too long people. I kept asking her if she was ready, and I never got a yes. At least I never understood her if it was ever a yes. Lexi stayed with me for my sake for as long as she could. In the end, neither one of us could stop it with a simple no.
Lexi was my heart dog, and so much more. She was my partner, my inspiration. I clearly remember the evening at the Chattanooga Theatre Centre when I felt God tell me that He had given Lexi to me to bring joy to others. And she did. That’s how she lived her life. She brought happiness and laughter – even if it was only for one night – to 7,000 people during her six week, 24 performance run as Toto.
She went on to become a therapy dog, where she continued to bring joy to folks, this time one-on-one. There was the hospital worker – an elderly black gentleman who was also an ordained preacher – who never touched the therapy dogs at the physical rehab hospital. He was a bit afraid of them. When he saw Lexi, he smiled, reached out to pet her, and said, “This dog is something special. God has blessed her.” During the same visit she sat in the lap of a young man in a wheelchair while his therapist chatted with me and another worker. I always kept an eye on what was happening with her when we were doing therapy, or “therapizing” as she and I called it. Every time the young man stopped petting Lexi, she nudged his hand and he would start petting her again. This went on for about 15 minutes, quite a long visit compared to most. As we were walking away, I heard his therapist say, “That was great! You actually lifted your hand.”
Lexi especially loved going to the Children’s Hospital, which she did faithfully every month for 10 years.
Even before I had this revelation about Lexi’s mission in life, she was busy bringing joy to people. For three years Lexi rode for an hour every week with me and Jeff to help teach ballroom dance to a group of home schooled teens. She even knew the halfway point where we pulled off the highway to get dinner at Mickey D’s. She was a Mickey D’s type of girl. Lexi would stand up and stare out the window when we would be getting close to the exit. Of course, she always got the fries. Back to teaching dance. How can a dog teach dance, you might ask. Here’s how: The kids would be lined up with their partner, trying out the dance step we had just taught them. Lexi would walk along the line of students, watching each one. She would stop in front of a dancing couple and bark. By then, everyone knew what that meant, and the other students would laugh while the “chosen” ones would hang their heads. I would go over and ask them to show me what they were doing, and there was always something wrong with it. Somehow, Lexi knew. Then we would put on the music for them to practice, but before they could practice, Lexi would come to me and stand on her hind legs for me to take her front paws so she could “show them” how they were supposed to do the step. OK, so maybe she couldn’t exactly do the step correctly, but in her mind she sure was. That done, she left everyone in peace to practice. By the way, rumba was her favorite.
When Lexi was just one year old, my elderly mother moved from Pennsylvania to be near me, and started out in an apartment within a block of where I lived. Mom loved dogs and kept Lexi every day while I was at work. It was a good arrangement for them both. On one occasion, when I came to pick up Lexi, Mom declared that Lexi was a “kind” dog. She said she had felt so sick all day and Lexi just laid her paw gently on her leg to comfort her. Eventually, Mom broke her hip and the rehab didn’t help, so she ended up in a nursing home. When we would go to visit, Lexi wouldn’t stop to see any of the other patients until after her visit with her Grandma. On the way out, however, she would “therapize” anyone who needed her. One time we thought Mom was dying after aspirating her chewing gum. Jeff, my son, and I were sitting vigil around her bed, with Lexi sitting on the bottom of the bed, never taking her eyes off her for an hour. Suddenly Mom opened her eyes, lifted herself up and cried, “Lexi!” with a great big smile on her face. I must admit, that was the only time I ever felt jealous of my dog.
Jeff and I had planned our backyard wedding for October 16, and my Mom passed suddenly on my birthday, exactly one month before that. Because Mom loved Jeff so much we decided to go ahead with the wedding. Of course, Lexi was in attendance and hoping for a big slice of wedding cake. We felt like Mom was also there, smiling at us.
Did I mention that Mickey D’s was Lexi’s favorite food? During the last year of her life, she was shopping with me at the local Ace Hardware store. I checked out and was ready to leave, but Lexi had other plans. The cashier had not given her a treat – you know, like you get at the pet store or the bank drive through. So she refused to leave, and just stood there staring at the cashier, as if by sheer force of will she would make her give her a treat. The cashier kept apologizing that she didn’t have anything to give to Lexi, and I finally got her to at least step back so other people could pay for their purchases. Normally, I would have picked her up and carried her to the car, but my arms were full of what I had bought. After a very long five minutes, it dawned on me that there was a McDonald’s across the street. I said, “Lexi, do you want to go to McDonald’s?” She looked at me and headed for the door in consent. Of course, we went to Mickey D’s and she got an ice cream.
Lexi also got Mickey D’s on most of her birthdays.
So, even though I try to eat healthy, and even though I mostly eschew sugar, tonight, for supper, I honored Lexi. While Jeff’s gluten-free pizza was in the oven, I drove the mile down the road to Mickey D’s and bought a hamburger, small fry and hot fudge sundae. And since they were on special for only $1, I added a large Dr. Pepper. I ate it all, and it was good. So now I sit here, wired up on sugar, unable to sleep, thinking about my girl. Lexi. I hope, wherever she is, there is a Mickey D’s.
Last week Mommy was cleaning out the garage and found a plastic file holder that she had squirreled away. (Squirreled away, he, he.) She couldn’t remember what was in it, so she took it upstairs to go through later.
Yesterday was “later,” and she found all kinds of goodies. Before our Grandma went to heaven, she helped Mommy identify and label about 87 thousand ancient pictures. Then Mommy sorted them into deck aids. The first folder was labeled 1910. I thought that’s how many pictures were in there, but no, there was actually a year called that. The picture on the left was taken in 1908 and is Mommy’s aunt (her Mom’s sister). She helped raise Mommy, so they were very close. Mommy called her Nan-Nan and, later, Nan, and other people called her Anna May. The picture on the right is of Mommy’s Mom in 1918. Some people called her “Marion” and she loved Angel Lexi very much. I hope they found each other in heaven. There’s just one thing I don’t understand…how can babies be Mommy’s aunt and mom?
Don’t you think those files full of pictures would keep Mommy busy all afternoon, but no, there was a bonus prize. She found a large folder full of info and souvenirs from Angel Lexi’s first time as Toto in 2006. This was the best production, or so I am told, and it brought in 7,000 people over 6 weeks and 26 performances. This is where Angel Lexi won her Oscar Annie Award for Director’s Choice. Mommy also found the prompt sheets she made to use during the play that told her when to be on the right or left side of the of the stage and what to help Angel Lexi do.
She found something else in there, too, something I wish she had left there. Really, Mommy? You said it was a gift to Angel Lexi from a cast member, but her head was too big? Did you get your picture? Can I take it off now? I. Don’t. Like. Hats.Hey Xena, whatcha’ got? Cool hat!Oh, Mo-o-ommy, Lucy wants my hat. Tell her it’s mine and she can’t have it.
I am Xena Schnauzer Warrior Princess with a Hat for the Star.
I was laying here on the couch thinking about the message my Grammy sent me. It was about sunbeams helping me find my guardian angels or them find me or us find each other. Something like that.
Next thing I knew, I was engulfed in a sunbeam. My Guardian Angel Lexi appeared and told me to listen (click on the picture below):
Angel Lexi is still trying to help me have more courage, and not be so afraid. She said she is very proud of me for being such a good puppy. I never chew up anything and I listen to my Mommy and now I always potty outside. She said it was very good that I like Mommy to hold me and love on me, since that is something Mommy missed with her. My guardian angel also said that she sees some of her own traits in me, like how I have started laying by myself on whatever furniture isn’t occupied instead of with my Mommy or Daddy; or how I am so good on the grooming table, but slowly, very slowly, creep to the edge.
It all felt so peaceful, I quietly fell asleep next to my Christmas reindeer, where I dreamed of slaying dragons, flying with Angel Lexi, and riding in the car without shaking.
I am Xena the Schnauzer Warrior Princess (at least in my dreams)
Angel Lexi here, taking my blog back for just a little while. I’ve seen my Mom tilt her head in that way that I know she is thinking hard and she’s looking at little Xena when she does it. Let’s start from the beginning so this will make sense.
I knew it would be terrible for Mom when I had to leave, so I hung on for two more months than the docs said I would. Then I had no choice but to go on back to my Creator. After four months I could see how sad Mom still was, so I asked the Big Guy to send someone to help her. I figured He would send her another schnauzer, maybe even let me pick out the right one. At first I didn’t understand why He sent her Lucy. When I asked, He said to wait and watch. I could tell she was still very sad, but the break in her heart seemed to be starting to heal, at least a little. As the months continued to pass, I saw stitch after stitch forming, creating a heart that could once again hold love. Lucy was accomplishing the job He sent her to do.
After the first anniversary of my leaving had passed, The Big Guy called me to Him to let me know that my Mom was ready for another schnauzer, and that I could help Him find just the right one. I knew exactly what Mom needed. She needed another little girl who looked a bit like me, but not too much. She had to be spunky and smart like me, and ready to be Mom’s partner in lots of activities, including being the church dog. I always loved Mom to the moon and back, but I wasn’t a “touch” dog except for when I was therapizing. Even though that is something she wanted when she adopted me, she never held it against me that it wasn’t in my personality. This time, I wanted Mom to get a cuddly girl, too. I knew the puppy couldn’t be too far away, like in China, or Mom wouldn’t get her, so I started searching in my home state of Georgia. Of course, The Big Guy knew I would find just the right one ’cause He had already picked her out. Boy, I can’t get up early enough to outsmart Him!
When the time was right Mom contacted my breeder, Becky, who understood what Mom wanted. The litter that would be ready to go in October were from a mom and dad who had puppies with temperaments more like mine, but they were all black and all males. Nope. The litter Becky expected to get in the spring would be from a mom and dad who usually had puppies that looked like me but were all cuddly love bugs with no “attitude.” Nope. So Becky told Mom about another great breeder named Toni. Toni was three hours away, and I knew that wouldn’t be a problem since Mom had driven that far to get me. When Mom went to see these 15 week old puppies, Toni had already picked out the one she thought would be the best match for Mom. You see, I had whispered in Toni’s ear which one to choose, and of course, it was the girl who would soon be named Xena. Even though Xena’s only been in the family for a little over two months, Mom’s heart is healing much faster so it can hold all the love welling up inside it. And Lucy’s new job is to help raise Xena and to be a wonderful big sister to her. She sure is acing that one, too.
Next thing I know, The Big Guy informs me that I am in charge of watching over Xena. Well, I’ll tell you, that really cut down time with my friend Spike. Puppies take a lot of watching. I made sure she didn’t chew everything up like I used to do as a puppy. Yep, checked that one off my list. Other than the potty training, everything has been going along beautifully, and she is almost there with that, too. Just as I was trying to pat myself on my back, Mom sends up a prayer to The Big Guy, asking for me to give Xena some of my bravery. It seems that every morning when Mom and Xena go to work, Xena is shaking in the car for at least half of the way there. She has other fears, too. I know, I know, she is supposed to be the Schnauzer Warrior Princess, but that’s for later. Even little princes and princesses have to grow into their titles, right? I started walking around thinking about this dilemma.
While it’s true that I have always had enough bravery to share, I didn’t know just how to go about this. I was walking and thinking and not paying much attention to where I was going. When I looked up I saw that I was in a different part of over the rainbow. I had wandered into the Land of Oz, and you will never believe who I found there…My Dorothy!
After getting caught up on the latest Oz news, I asked My Dorothy if she had any ideas. She asked me if I remembered the Cowardly Lion. Of course I did! He was one of my favorites. My Dorothy reminded me that he hadn’t always been brave; it was after he met her and the Tin Man and the Scarecrow that he learned to love and found his courage. Even then, he didn’t realize he had courage until the Wizard gave him a medal with the word Courage on it.
Suddenly, I knew what to do. For now, I am going to let little Xena grow and experience life and build her courage. I will keep en”courage”ing her and do my best to instill some of my extra bravery into her. Do you remember when the little warrior princess went after the big dogs in the house because they tore up her favorite toy? Who do you think helped her? The more she learns to love and trust, the braver she will be. Some day she will get her own medal and be the superstar she was born to be.
So back to the beginning. When Mom tilts her head in thought, it is because she sees me in Xena, and wonders. Now you know why.
I think I will take a break from puppy watching and go running with Spike for a while.
You didn’t think Blogville could get away with telling about favorite stories without me, did you? After all, I starred in my favorite story.
That’s me, way over on the right in Candice Dorothy’s arms. I am watching Mom for my next cue. This was in Georgia, my birth state, at the second WOZ production I starred in.
I was Toto is three different productions. The first time was at the Chattanooga Theatre Centre and remains my and Mom’s favorite. It had the best crew and best director and biggest attendance. Over a period of six weeks seven thousand people came to see me perform. It was my first time as a thespian schnauzer. As soon as I hit the stage in front of an audience the first night, I knew I had found my passion. I was called a ham and a stage hog. What is it with the references to pigs? Could I help if I was enthusiastic during every scene, every Thursday, Friday and Saturday night, as well as during the afternoon on Saturdays and Sundays? Could I help it if I danced back and forth on the stage with the Tin Man during one of his “solo” performances? OK, so maybe I could have helped that one. That’s the time I got called “that dog.” But I had been watching him for several performances and I knew the steps to the dance!
Mommy, thank you for helping me be the best Toto ever; for all the rides and treats and training and prompting and encouragement when I got tired, especially during my last performance. I remember how you held me and explained to me that it would be my last time on the stage, ever. You said you knew I was 11 years old and exhausted after performing once already that day. And you asked me to give it my all, my best, one last time. And I did. I shone. I performed like my life depended on it. I gave it everything I had, and you knew that. You were so proud of me, and that made me happy. I was your star.
Five years ago, Lexi was recruited to help the Chattanooga Symphony Opera (CSO) promote their instrumental score of the Wizard of Oz (WOZ) while the much-loved film played on a screen behind them. On March 2, 2012, Lexi’s new “Dorothy” – who Lexi knew from a different role in the previous production of WOZ – came to pick her up in a Pedi cab. They were to travel the streets and businesses of Chattanooga for the CSO promotion. On that day, one of Lexi’s life-long dreams came true: she was allowed in a restaurant!
Something else happened that day, too, while Lexi and her “Dorothy” were riding around town. As the line goes in the play, “The wind began to blow.” The darkening sky showed tinges of green, with swirling, ominous clouds. People looked up at the sky, stopped them and asked, “How did you manage the weather?” before running for shelter. Meanwhile, I was shut in the basement of the church, praying that Lexi didn’t get whisked off to Oz.
Note: Multiple tornadoes touched down in the Tennessee Valley area that day, doing extensive damage.
This was in Wednesday’s paper. OK, so they got Lexi’s age wrong (but what girl doesn’t like to be thought of as younger than she is), combined what happened at more than one church, and misquoted me more than once, but hey, it’s the newspaper. What do you expect?
For those of you who were unable to watch live this morning, here is the link to the recorded service. The sound levels are not great on this raw footage, so please bear with it. They improve a bit into it. Later, when my dear, over-worked husband has a bit of time to work on the sound, I will repost it. But for those who don’t want to wait, here it is on Vimeo:
Yep, as Lexi would have said, I’m at it again with those time-line thingies.
During September of 2014 Lexi was in rehearsal for her third run as Toto. We (Lexi and I) were working at the “church on the mountain,” as Lexi called it. From there, it was a mad 40 to 60 minute drive down the mountain, through downtown during rush hour traffic, and onto the interstate to get to the theater in North Georgia. Once we got parked, Lexi ran to the grass to relieve herself so that she didn’t have to take a break during rehearsal. Then up the ramp she ran and into the propped door, now focused and all business. This picture is of Lexi Toto hanging out with “The Piano Man” while listening to the director’s instructions to everyone.
Hello friends, Lexi here again. If you missed my Campaign Propoganda post yesterday informing you why you need to vote for me for the Supreme Leader of Blogville your Mayor, you can check it out here. Today, we move on to reasons #2 and #3.
2. Let Them Eat Cake: I eat at the table with my people. I get McDonald’s food and real cake for my birthday. How is this relevant, you may ask. I know how to manipulate the people and I will both share my knowledge with you and fight for your rights. Like your right to eat cake.
3. All Lives Matter: All dog lives matter. All cat lives matter. All pig lives matter. All bird lives matter. All rabbit lives matter. In short, All Lives Matter. I will not discriminate because of species, breed, age, economic status, color, or gender. Not so sure about snakes and spiders, but I am open to discussion on this.
Hello, I am Lexi. I have been nominated (by me) for Mayor of Blogsville, and I accept my nomination. I won’t go into my entire background, as you can read more about me in my posts, in my Kindle book, and in the About section of my website. I am told I need a platform. I think I will use the platform I have used in the past:
I possess many skills, experiences and qualities that make me uniquely qualified for this position as the Supreme Leader of Blogville your Mayor. Over the next few days I will use some of my considerable counting skills to list them for you so you don’t have to figure them out on your own. I am helpful like that. Today, besides, my platform, I will list reason #1 to vote for me, Lexi:
Proclaimed Actor: You may have noticed that my election picture shows me next to my Publicity Photo and Annie Award. My Annie is like an Oscar for people and I was the first-ever animal to receive one at the Chattanooga Theatre Centre. I received my Annie for the “Director’s Choice Award.” Quite prestigious. I went on to star two more times in other productions of the Wizard of Oz. Why is this important, you may ask. Some of our greatest politicians have been acclaimed performers. Ronald Reagan, Arnold Schwarzenegger, Sonny Bono, and Jessie Ventura, to name a few.
Please be sure to check back tomorrow for reasons #2 and #3.
This month for Memory Monday I thought I would mix it up with a picture collage. Isn’t that why we take pictures, anyhow, to remember? This one contains never before posted pictures of my first time as Toto in 2006. You can click on the collage to make it bigger and easier to see.
The top left picture is, of course, the Tin Man, the Scarecrow and the Lion. The Tin Man got mad at me once because I got away from Mom during his big scene, his solo performance, and danced back and forth across the stage with him. The audience was laughing when it wasn’t supposed to be funny. He may have forgiven me by now. I never had much interaction with the Scarecrow. A man made out of straw is liable to flop onto you at any time, so it is prudent to stay your distance. The Lion was my buddy. He carried me a lot, especially when things got a bit scary, like in the Wicked Witch’s castle. He didn’t even get mad the time I gently reached over and grabbed his nose between my teeth while I was in his arms on stage. It was just an affectionate nip, which, as a fellow animal, he seemed to understand.
In the top middle picture, that’s me in Dorothy’s arms, sandwiched between the two witches. I was fascinated by the wicked witch. She was scary mean when we were on stage, but so nice to me at other times. However, I managed to upset her once too. *sigh* She was sneaking across the back of the stage, supposedly unseen by Dorothy and company who were at the front of the stage. I ran off from Dorothy (which Toto was always doing in the movie) and started following and barking at her. She started waving her arm wildly at me to get away, which, again, got the audience laughing. I felt it was such a success that I included that in my performance every night. She never seemed to get used to it. *sigh*
The bottom left picture is of me and the costume person. I liked her because she never tried to put costumes on me. She said I was perfect the way I was. *big smile* Finally, the bottom middle picture is my brother Andrew, so proud of me after one of the performances!
After work Friday, Mom and I met Dad in a restaurant parking lot. I knew it was a restaurant by the smells. I thought, “Finally, the lawmakers have moved into the age of enlightenment and I can now partake of fine dining somewhere other than at home.” Sure, there’s always Mickey D’s takeout.
But no, instead of us all going in the restaurant, Dad hopped in the car with us – and I was very glad to see him, despite the aforesaid disappointment. We drove to the local Toyota dealership to see a man about a car Mom found on the internet. Apparently, our Toyota Avalon is starting to fall apart and my peeps say it is too old (13 years) with too many miles (almost 300,000) to sink over $4,000 into it. Quite frankly, I would be glad to have another car since the air conditioning has totally stopped working in it and, with temperatures in the mid and high 60’s, I have been panting. Now, before you judge me as a spoiled lover of comfort, please remember that I am a black dog still wearing a winter coat. And I go to work with Mom almost every day.
The young fellow’s name was Curry (he,he), and he fussed over me a lot. He said his lab just crossed the rainbow bridge and he misses him a lot, but he is at work too many hour each day to start with another dog right now. I am glad I could help his need for canine contact. After Mom and Dad and I took the Lexus for a test drive, Mom told Curry we would all think about it and let him know the next day. I really didn’t understand this, since I could tell during the test drive that they really, really liked and wanted this car. It had everything on their “must have” list as well as their “would like” list”, and I could feel how excited they were. While we were saying goodbye to Curry, out of the blue Mom asked, “Did you go to see the Wizard of Oz at the Theatre Centre a few years back when you were a kid?” When he said he did, Mom pointed at me and said, “Meet Toto.” His eyes got so big and he shook his head like he didn’t believe it. Mom had to reassure him it was true, and he said that explained a lot about my perfect behavior. *smiles*
So, this is Sunday, and you can see where that car is parked today (Ok, maybe not. It is in our garage at home.)
Mom wanted to name my new car Lexi the Lexus. Dad said no. So now, since it is a Toyota Lexus, she has named it T-Lex. Bwahaha. Daddy thought that was only nominally better, but she has already told the car that T-Lex is it’s new name, and it is king (or queen) of the road! Yeah. I don’t think she can take that back.
Before I tell you about my final gig as Toto, I remembered that I wanted to show you something from the first show. The Theatre Centre had these cool buttons made. That’s ME!
Now, I am back to give you what you crave: details of my final appearance in a production of the Wizard of Oz.
It was spring of 2014. I was eleven years old, limber, sharp of mind, and jonesing to get back on stage. My first Dorothy had been one of the managers at Rock City ever since I knew her. Every year she would hire Dad to teach Irish folk dance in March at Shamrock City and polka at Octoberfest. She deserted us left after having her second baby and Rock City hired a new person, Jonathan. During the Shamrock City gig in 2014 Dad heard Jonathan talking about bringing WOZ back to the Colonnade. Dad came home and told Mom she needed to go with him the next weekend and bring me and some of my calling cards. Of course we went, and the next thing we knew we were being asked to submit my bio for the play. It’s pretty impressive, so I know you will want to read it, too. Lexi’s Bio.
Even though it had been a couple of years since my last performance, I was still active in Freestyle. That kept me sharp and responsive to movements. I still did a bit of preparation for my part, which you can read about in a previous post. There were lots of rehearsals, too. I knew what to do, so I tried to help everyone else so we could just get on with opening the play. Here are some pictures from rehearsal:
Always listen closely when the director gives directions.
Finally, rehearsals were over. Every night for a week we didn’t get home and in bed until eleven o’clock. Mom and I were exhausted. We were barely getting to work the next day. And there was too much to do for us to sleep at work. Our schedule was get up, eat breakfast (me), go to work, eat lunch (Mom), starve the schnauzer, go to the theater, rehearse and get treats (me), go home, get a treat (me) and go to bed. Over and over again. I lost a whole pound.
The play opened in September of 2014. I loved being on the stage again. It was on Mommy’s birthday that I posted my thoughts about it, which you can read here. Of course, I had a different Dorothy again. Here is a picture of us on stage. I know this is while we are in Oz because her dress is blue. In Kansas, everything is black and white. Isn’t it funny that I am still black and white in Oz, BOL!
I look at the picture now and am embarassed about my weight back then. No wonder she grunted every time she picked me up! What an extra 5 pounds can do to a little schnauzer!
On opening night, those munchkins kept getting in my way. They started dancing as I was entering from stage right and almost danced me right off the front of the stage. Now that would have been an opening night to remember! It shook me up. I wasn’t myself the rest of the night. I hear people say that, and I think it is funny. Who are they if they aren’t themselves? Of course, in my case, I was Toto. BOL. The next night Mom adjusted my entrance to be from stage left. It worked much better.
I performed every Thursday, Friday, and Saturday night, plus a matinee on Saturdays. I’ll tell you, by the time Saturday night came around I was almost too tired to walk onto the stage. I know my acting Saturday evenings suffered from it. At first Mom would take me out shopping – like to Lowe’s Hardware or the pet store – after the matinee, just to kill time. We live an hour away, so it was too far to go home. When she realized how tired I was she let me sleep in my kennel in the wings, just off the stage. That helped, but I was still ready to go home. By the end of the second week I was posting about that.
One night my Dad came and watched me perform. I didn’t realize he was there until I saw him in the lobby at the meet and greet. He held me while everyone pet me and asked if I was his dog. He had the honor of saying yes. I was really tired from my performance so I laid quietly in his arms. However, when he put me down, I tried to scamper down the hall, where I could smell the Mexican food from some other event. I am never too tired for food. After that, either Mom or Dad held me until it was time to go home. Drat, foiled again.
The last day of the play was a Sunday. Before the curtain opened on the evening performance Mommy said she had something very important to tell me, and to listen closely. She said it was not only the last performance of this production, but probably my last performance as Toto. She said to do my very best; push away being tired and give them a show they will never forget. So I did. I acted my little heart out. I think it was my best performance ever. I took my final bows with Dorothy and the cast and walked to the door. I was too sad to say goodbye to anyone. At least I have my memories.
When all the world is a hopeless jumble, And the raindrops tumble all around, Heaven opens a magic lane. When all the clouds darken up the skyway, There’s a rainbow highway to be found, leading from your window pane. To a place behind the sun, Just a step beyond the rain. —- Somewhere over the rainbow…*
*The opening lines from the song “Over the Rainbow.”
Let’s see, where was I in recollecting my first experiences as Toto. Ah, yes, we had just met my now Auntie Jen.
In theater, there is something called a green room. It is where the cast can sit and rest between scenes, but most especially between the first and second act. I usually showed up about 15 minutes before the show started since I didn’t need makeup or wardrobe. It would be just in time to warm up my voice with everyone, as I previously posted. Besides, it was fun to see the stage manager sigh with relief every time I walked tore through the back stage door. One evening as I ran toward the warm-up room I smelled, then saw, someone walk in with baked goods and place them in the green room. During the entire play I couldn’t stop thinking about that. Now let me mention that as unlikely as it may seem, there are a few scenes that I am simply not supposed to be in, such as when Uncle Henry and Auntie Em can’t find me or My Dorothy after the tornado. It was during one such scene that I could no longer control my urge to eat those baked goods. Unfortunately, they were on the far side of the stage. Sure, I could have taken the long way around behind the back curtain. Bwahahaha! Who are we kidding? Even I know the shortest distance between two points is a straight line, and that line took me straight across the stage. Like a good quarterback (my peeps brother Andrew watches a lot of football so I understand a bit of it), I made it through the first line of defense as I exited the stage, intent on my goal. The second line of defense closed in on me just before I could round the corner and devour what was calling me to it like a siren song. So I didn’t get my baked goods and Auntie Em was mad at me. 😦 Mom wasn’t very happy with me either, but gave me points for speed and determination. Points? She could have just given me baked goods.
In June I posted some Memory Mondays about my time as Toto. If you missed them, you can read them here. I was going to tell you all about winning my Annie Award, but that is included in the June post, too. I guess Mommy’s name is also on the award because she was my stage director.
Mom actually made a schedule of when I was supposed to be on stage with cues and stage sides to enter and exit. If you are interested, you can see it here.
2nd Production of the Wizard of Oz (WOZ):
Early in 2010 I got called to star once again as Toto in a WOZ production at a convention center called the Colonnade in a town called Fort Oglethorpe in North Georgia. I blogged about it at the time, also. Go ahead, click the link, it is safe. I got left out of the playbill, if you can believe that! I mean, who leaves the star out of the program? I wasn’t too happy about it, but Mom was steamed!
This time the director didn’t have a plan for what scenes I could be in or how much I could be on stage. Having had some experience at this, Mom called the shots for me. She let me go on stage a lot more, but not when it would have hurt the story line. She still had my playbook all marked up with when and where I was to enter and exit. Apparently, direction and routine appeal to her as much as they do to me.
I didn’t understand why there were long gaps between each scene as the sets were changed. At one such time I was with Kandis the Dorothy behind the curtain, bored with waiting and peeking out to see what I could see. Suddenly I spotted my Auntie Jen in the audience! I glanced back at Kandis, who was distracted with texting, and made my break. For the first and last time in my career I forgot the stage actor rules and tore down the stairs and into the middle of the audience, leaping right into Auntie Jen’s lap. I was wiggling all over, wagging my tail and even gave her a hug. She was beaming. I could feel the happiness radiating off of her. People in the seats near her were asking if I was her dog. “No,” she replied, “this is my niece.” ❤
We went to the Star Awards ceremony, which was held at the Colonnade. I fully expected to get another award, but those people forgot all about me – again. I made my point by running up on stage while Kandis (Dorothy) was singing Over the Rainbow. Would you believe she had her eyes closed and didn’t even see me! So I trotted backstage, lickity split, where they were setting up the food for after the awards. If I wasn’t going to get an award, I sure was going to get something out of being there. I came back out as she was finishing the song and this time I know she had to have seen me because people were chuckling. When she looked down, I slipped her and went back to the food. She came after me, though, and acted so very glad I was there. We went to the lobby and she wanted me to run with her and play with her, but I just wasn’t into it. I was a bit bummed, no award and all, and I just wanted to get back to the food.
When the play was over, I did a final blog about it.
“Stay tuned” as they say, “for my final Oz blog the first Monday is January!” Great story! Great pictures! It is all about me!”
I have had three sessions of acupuncture and B12 shots for my hip. Since my last visit, I have been running around like a puppy, up and down stairs and all over the place. Until today. I woke up hurting. Mom called the vet and Dad is taking me Wednesday morning for another treatment. I don’t mind going to this vet. They are super nice to me and feed me so many treats I don’t even notice what they are doing. In the meantime, I got another hydrotherapy (bath in the jetted tub) and a buffered aspirin. Mom sat in the tub with me and said she was very proud because I didn’t even shake this time. I just have tomorrow to get through until I get some more relief with the acupuncture.
Now, about Memory Monday. Since several of you expressed your delight in reading about my times as Lexi-Toto, and since I never tire of thinking about it, I have decided to share more stories of those years. My career spanned three productions over the period of eight years.
As I’ve mention, the first production – the one in Chattanooga at the Theatre Centre – was my favorite. Here are some of my first thoughts about the experience, posted during that time.
A local bakery donated biscuits in the shape of hot dogs with a hole in the center so that a stick could be put through them. You know, so it would look like a hot dog being roasted over a campfire. Mr. Marvel would lower the stick while he was talking with My Dorothy and I would run and pull the hot dog biscuit off the stick. The audience loved it. Then Mr. Marvel always chuckled and said, “What’s a sausage between two friends?” Or something like that. One time I was still chewing when My Dorothy grabbed me up into her arms and swung sharply around to try to head back home before the tornado. That was right when I was opening my mouth to chew, and pieces sprayed all over stage. In a subsequent scene I made sure to clean the stage!
It wasn’t all fun and games and treats. There were those dreaded flying monkeys. When they started screeching and flying – yes flying – at me I would run as fast as I could across the stage, heading for my kennel dressing room. Most of the time Mom would catch me and hand me over. Traitor! Didn’t she know those monkeys were terrifying? At least I was compensated each time with an extra treat from the head monkey, who had to run back out on the stage with me when the scene changed. That’s when everyone found out I wasn’t a water breed. When the wicked witch told him to take me and throw me in the river, he would always fumble and I would leap from his arms and, this time, make it straight into my kennel dressing room.
Sunday afternoons were fun shows. There were always lots of little people and they adored me. After the show, folks were allowed to come up and have their picture taken with some of the cast. They could ask for who they wanted in the picture with them, such as Toto, or Dorothy and Toto, or the Lion and Toto or the Tin Man and Toto or the Scarecrow and Toto or Glenda and Toto. They usually asked for My Dorothy and Toto. Even then I loved having my picture taken! That’s how we met my Auntie Jen. The story goes something like this: Jen saw my picture in the newspaper and said, “How did Piper’s picture get in the paper?” When she read the article she found out that my cousin Piper and I came from the same breeder. She e-mailed the breeder and got my Mom’s e-mail address. They started corresponding like that until my almost Auntie Jen came to see me perform. It was an instant friendship between us all, and we are now all family. Isn’t that super neat? I don’t know why people think you have to be born into a family to BE family. After all, both my Mom and I were adopted and we couldn’t be more family! Same with my Auntie Jen…I love my Auntie Jen.
I think that’s all I can tell you for now. My hip is starting to hurt again and I need to rest. Next time I will tell you about receiving the Annie Award, about attending other plays at the theater, and maybe even about my second time playing Toto, two years later. I’ll have some pictures to show you, too. In the meantime, if you get lost, just remember to follow the yellow brick road.
I was having a lovely day last Sunday at Rocktoberfest. Dad did NOT use me as a prop, the sun was shining and I was enjoying the music and attention of hundreds of tourists passing through. My Lion from the Wizard of Oz was there working — without the Lion costume — and he came over and took pictures of me to show to my last Dorothy. She also works there, but was off that weekend.
Then this started happening:
Then someone spilled beer:
I was laying around the house thinking about all the fun I had as Lexi-Toto in the local productions of the Wizard of Oz. To kick things off, we all attended the Annie Awards (like the Oscars, only at our local theater) in 2006. This is where I first met lots of the people I would be working with. A couple of people asked why I (a dog) was there, but as soon as they heard I was going to play Toto, they welcomed me to their ranks. It was a formal affair, so Dad made me wear a tux collar and bow tie. It matched Mom’s red dress! Don’t they look like proud parents? I still had a few months before the play opened to grow out my hair for the Toto look.
Here are pictures of me with my Dorothy from the first production in 2006 and the third one in 2014. You can probably see where I put on a pound or two in those eight years. Dorothy #3 used to grunt every time she picked me up. Mom said she was sorry about the extra weight, but that she wouldn’t be able to grunt like that during the live play. BOL
I must admit, I do look and feel better since I recently lost some weight on my green bean and carrot diet.
There was a lot of publicity surrounding the production at the Chattanooga Theatre Centre. Sometimes during our six weeks of rehearsals my Dorothy and I had to stop to have our pictures made for the newspaper and playbills.
For this picture, Mommy hid a piece of cake under my Dorothy’s right shoe. When she realized how focused I am when there is food involved, my Dorothy started rubbing hot dogs on her skin and hiding treats in her socks. See why I loved her so much? It certainly kept me with her – at least most of the time, as you will soon see.
The play ran for six weeks and I reported for duty every Thursday, Friday and Saturday evenings and Sunday afternoon. I would arrive in time for warm ups. I would run to the room where I could hear everyone singing, “Doe, ray, me, fah, sew, lah, me, doe,” and scratch at the door until someone opened it and let me in. I would run to the front row and do warm ups with the cast. “Aroooo, arrrr, woof, woof!” I was so good that everyone would laugh with joy. Then we would all sing warm ups together again and everyone would laugh again. It was so much fun!
There were two distinct episodes when hot dogs in the socks did not keep me with my Dorothy. The first week on stage, I realized I could run down the stairs behind the good witch, Glenda, and visit with the audience. I had a limited amount of time so I visited quickly with just the first row, letting them know I was glad they had come. Then I tore up the opposite set of stairs and across the stage to stand next to my Dorothy in time for Glenda to point at me and ask, “Is this the witch?” Even though I never, ever missed my cue, this whole thing made Mom and my Dorothy a bit nervous, so Glenda started blocking my exit stairs with her big skirt. Drat.
A little further along into the production I realized the Wicked Witch of the West was sneaking across the back part of the stage while Dorothy, the Scarecrow and the Lion were near the front of the stage, discussing which way to go. Since not much else was happening, I thought it would be great fun to chase and bark at the Wicked Witch. She kept waving her hand and stage-whispering, “Shoo, shoo” at me. Later I found out that my Dorothy and her friends weren’t supposed to know the Wicked Witch was there, which explained why they only looked from side to side while saying things like, “Is that Toto barking?” and “Where is Toto? Do you hear him?” The audience laughed so hard that I kept doing it every night.
I have lots more stories, but my brain is a bit tired from all this remembering, so I will share more next time. Is it supper time yet?
I'm Dalton, a Rat terrier mix and I came here in Sept, 2017, I was rescued from Hurricane Harvey. My birthday is 8-20-2016. My Gotcha Day is 8-27-2017. And I am Benji, a terrier mix of unknown origin. MY Birthday is June 6, 2018, and my Gotcha Day is Dec 28, 2018. I also was a rescue from a different part of Texas. We also have Angel MrJackFreckles, (2-5-2018); and also we have Angel Minko, (6-18-2017); and Angel Pipo, (11-3-2020);There are also Angels Groucho, Simba, Suki, & Toki. We meezers used to be known as WeBeesSiameezers. We'e all from Michigan, Dalton and Benji both came here from Texas, as rescues..