July 26, 2013

Little dog, big city

Local adoption stars at ‘Nooga theater

By Christopher Smith

— CHATTANOOGA — Stacy Chapman said she knew her papillon mix Zelda Fitzgerald, named after the wife of jazz age author F. Scott Fitzgerald, was lonely. But bringing a companion home wasn’t an option.

“Zelda wanted to rip every single dog’s face off,” Chapman said.

That is, until Zelda met a Chihuahua that Chapman, who lives in Chattanooga, adopted last year from the Humane Society of Northwest Georgia, based in Dalton.

The two pets, Zelda and Dobby, “get along great and love each other,” Chapman said.

Dobby, named for his likeness to the house elf of the same name from the popular fantasy series “Harry Potter,” has won more than just Zelda’s approval, and is starring in the Chattanooga Theatre Centre’s production of “Legally Blonde.” The musical closes this weekend with shows tonight and tomorrow at 8 and a Sunday matinee at 2:30 p.m.

Dobby plays Bruiser, the purse-trotting pet of Malibu sorority girl Elle Woods, played by Brittni Rhodes. Woods attends Harvard Law School hoping to win back her ex-boyfriend who is pursuing a coveted and competitive internship at the school.

Dobby fits right in on stage with his human counterparts, Chapman said.

“The cast brings in dog treats, he gets a scratch or a kiss as they walk by,” she said.

George Quick, executive director for the theater, said Dobby is a “natural born star.”

“Dobby has been a great addition to the show,” he said. “He enjoys being in the green room with everyone and is always ready to go when it’s his turn to be on stage.”

It’s his fun personality that attracts so much attention, Chapman said.

“He’s clumsy and playful, loves to chase tennis balls, and he makes us laugh every day,” she said. “When we come home after work, Dobby celebrates to the point we think he may give himself a stroke. No matter what kind of bad day you have, when you walk in the door, it’s impossible to be sad or frustrated with a happy, bouncing dog who is so glad to see you.”

Finding such a playful dog wasn’t easy, Chapman said.

After going from shelter-to-shelter in several counties around Chattanooga, she ended up at the humane society in Dalton.

“I got to tell you, out of all those shelters the Dalton one was the cleanest and most pleasant,” she said. “The people that work there seem like this is their life’s work. They don’t treat it like a job. They treat it like a passion. It was way beyond what we saw at some other places.”

Chapman said she was impressed by how serious the humane society staff treated adoptions, which include a lengthy application process with questions about how much food costs and the importance of vaccinations.

“Dogs are not something you have until you have a baby, till you move, till you get married,” she said. “For the humane society, they understand and take serious that when you adopt a dog, it’s a lifetime, till-the-end-of-days kind of thing.”

For information on tickets and seating availability for “Legally Blonde,” call (423) 267-8534. The theater is at 400 River St. in Chattanooga.