There’s a celebrity living among us in Long Valley.
He’s young–just under 7-years-old. He’s modeled for Ralph Lauren and Tommy Hilfiger advertisements, and is the star of a New York Lottery commercial. He also stole the show in a production of “Annie.”
And he’s got four legs.
Spencer, an All-American mixed-breed dog, wags his tail and chases after toys in the backyard like any other canine. He loves spending time with his little sister, Rosie, a poodle and Jack Russell mix. Both were rescue dogs, saved by their owners Valerie Germ and Sue Baguiao.
When the Long Valley residents brought Spencer home, they learned quickly that he’s a people pleaser, Germ said. But they also learned quickly that he had some hidden talents.
“We’d walk him around the neighborhood,” Germ said, “and he’d walk along the curb, paw over paw in a straight line like he was on a balance beam.”
Germ and Baguaio then enrolled Spencer, who looks very similar to “Benji,” in agility classes. It wasn’t for the purpose of competing, they said, rather to let Spencer meet friends and expand his abilities.
But one class changed everything, Germ said, when a completely unexpected recommendation was made.
“One of the other dog owners, in the middle of class, stopped the instructor and said, ‘This dog needs to be in show business,’” Germ said, as the woman pointed to Spencer. “She gave us the name of an animal agent in New York and we went from there.”
The couple didn’t jump on board right away, and didn’t pursue any talks with the agent until about a year later.
“We never realized there were animal agents,” Germ said. “We knew he was adorable, but every pet owner thinks their animals are adorable.”
When they did make the call to the agent, though, Spencer made a splash.
Spencer’s first job was for a Ralph Lauren print advertisement. His job was to sit and look pretty at a dinner table, wearing a blue napkin around his neck.
“He just sat there, looking around, completely unfazed by the lights and the commotion,” Germ said. “He did great.”
It’s Spencer’s disposition, Germ says, that makes him work well with the camera.
“He’s just mellow,” she said.
That disposition proved worthwhile when Spencer was cast in a New York Lottery commercial. Despite the dog’s perfect take time after time, the director shot the scene some 50 times, Germ said.
Spencer took it in stride, however, playing his part and doing his job.
“The shoot lasted about seven hours,” Germ said. “Afterward, the director told us that he’s been (working with animals) for a really long time, and Spencer had the best disposition he’d seen.”
The local celebrity takes on about three jobs a year, but is called on about 20 times annually. Sometimes companies switch animals at the last minute, and sometimes Germ and Baguiao have schedule conflicts.
But that’s alright. Spencer enjoys spending time with Rosie anyway, in addition to the two cats and two birds he lives with.
The fame and fortune (Spencer can make up to $175 per hour) won’t go to his head, either.
“He’s just a regular dog,” Germ said. “He likes competing in agility competitions for fun and hanging out with people.”
Finally, a star that won’t beg for attention.