This is Heidi. Last year, she was "discovered" in the park by a pet talent agency; since then, she has embarked on a one-dog quest to break into the business. This is her Hollywood story as chronicled by Times staff writer Diane Haithman. And this is her “head shot”: That longing look was achieved by placing a biscuit just out of reach.
As Heidi is discovering, breaking into show business can't always be as glamorous as her recent visit to Jim Henson Studios or landing a walk-on in "Annie" at the Kodak Theatre. Sometimes -- and, some might argue, most of the time -- Hollywood is just about rats.
While she usually a perfectly behaved darling, Heidi has a problem with distractions, particularly small animals such as squirrels, or not-quite-so-small animals, such as the skunk she went after two days before her stage debut at the Kodak. "Stay" means nothing to her when something fast and furry has entered the picture.
A stage or screen dog must learn to ignore distractions, however attractive. So to her most recent training session, Heidi's trainer, Sue DiSesso, brought along Sweetie, an affectionate six-month old gray rat, so we could train Heidi not to chase her like a living chew toy.
Who knows what that dog is sniffing at on her walks when she dives her nose into the ivy or stares up the trunk of a palm tree, but to the best of my knowledge, Sweetie was the first rat Heidi had ever met on a professional basis.
In fact, the closest Heidi had come to a Hollywood rat was her recent encounter with the Mouse, the industry insider's name for the Walt Disney Co. As Heidi's fans may recall, Heidi was invited -- sort of -- to a screening of "Beverly Hills Chihuahua" on the Disney studio lot in Burbank. While waiting for the show to start, she took an unauthorized stroll through the lobby of the Animation Building, where she had her picture taken -- sort of -- with the world's most famous rodent, Mickey (this photo probably ensures that Heidi will not be invited back).