The Crime Boos, The Assassin and the Long-haired Chihuahua: How Hollywood Paws Found the Right Dog at the Last Minute for the Action Flick Stiletto

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Hollywood is the land of big breaks and big heartbreaks, and that's just as true for dog actors as for humans.

When L.A.-based animal-training academy Hollywood Paws ( was first approached by the producers of the action film Stiletto, a tense tale of a crime boss and a mysterious female assassin starring Tom Berenger, Michael Biehn and Kelly Hu, the institute was asked for a yellow Lab to portray the central family's dog. The Paws people produced three qualified canines for the role, but the producers changed their minds three days before shooting and asked for a toy-breed dog instead. We had to scramble to find one.

It was a tough break for the limelight-loving Labs, but a big break for Cooper, a long-haired Chihuahua with charm to burn.

Owner Gena Haba had joined Cooper for training at Hollywood Paws, and continued her training work after graduation. The discipline stood her in good stead during the four-day shoot in Santa Clarita, Calif., where Cooper weathered an array of distractions to perform a series of challenging behaviors in a kitchen scene involving actor dialog. Cooper sailed through the scenes with aplomb, and Gena received trainer credit on the film, which is scheduled for a 2008 release.

To learn more about how animals can acquire the necessary tools to break into show business, visit

Hollywood Paws
(888) 781-7827

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David Lawrence
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