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Rory Makes A Commercial By Jeannette Poling for colliesonline.com

"THE WELL OF DECEPTION"

Starring MBISS CH Chelsea Here Comes the Sun, VCD1 CD BN TDX AXP OJP CGC HIC and Jon Provost

Rory and I had one of those once in a life time surprise! One of those wonderful surprises that we will talk about for years to come. One of those surprises that has framed photos fondly displayed in our house. One of THOSE days!

Our story begins in May when I was contacted by a wonderful man, Drake Vanhooser. He called inquiring if my Collie, Rory, whose fancy name is MBISS CH Chelsea Here Comes the Sun, VCD1 CD BN TDX AXP OJP CGC HIC, would be available to “act” in his upcoming commercial for Jerome’s Furniture, a well-known and well-respected furniture company in Southern California. He was the writer and director for this commercial, it’s working title: “The Well of Deception.” He had made other commercials, but this was his first one with a dog, and he wanted a beautiful Collie!

Drake Vanhooser with Rory. The writer and director for this commercial.

Drake said that he had called the AKC in New York, looking for a beautiful trained sable collie, and he was referred to the San Diego Collie Club. He called the club and was given my name, and a few others. Drake told me what he wanted this collie to be able to do, and I had mixed feelings as to whether or not my Rory could do what he wanted, and if I wanted to be involved. Commercials can come with high stress, and the chasm between what the production company wants and the reality of what a pet dog (and Rory is our pet, he is not a movie dog) can perform is often very wide and deep: expectations versus reality. And there is always a lot of money invested by the film maker in making the commercial, which makes this a serious business deal. I did not want to set Rory and myself up for disaster, or disappoint this really nice man.

Drake told me he wanted a dog that would jump up, with his feet on the actor’s chest and bark. I said, “Oh, no, no, no” … I do not have a dog that does that, and I am not interested in training that behavior. I told him he needed “a movie dog” from Los Angeles. He was very accepting of my concern, but he was not deterred. He said we could work around that. I said, let me think about it, and call me back next week. If you find another Collie, that is fine, no worries. He asked for a picture, and so I sent him a few in a text message. He responded they could “dub in” barking because he REALLY wanted my Rory. Oh, that made me laugh. I text back “Not with a tiny dog bark, I hope”. He also mentioned, that for him, the name “Rory” was good luck.

A week later we met in a local park. I think it might have been love at first sight for Drake, and of course Rory loved him back. Immediately and emphatically, Drake said that my Rory was the collie he wanted for the part. This commercial was very important to him. Drake has loved Lassie (watching reruns on TV since he was 8 … and he is a young man, not one us of the Lassie generation) and he wanted to have a Collie in this commercial. He had this dream, this vision for his commercial, and I could see he was not to be denied. He told me what was required, and I was still a bit concerned that my young dog, who will be just 3 in August, would not be able to make everyone happy in this commercial. But Drake was so warm and pleasantly persistent that I agreed. He kept saying we could work around any problem. As we parted he said he had a call into Jon Provost to see if he would like to do a cameo. I was floored, and did not think there was even a remote chance that would happen, so I just smiled, and he patted Rory, and told me he would see us on June 24th.

A few weeks later I received a text message from Drake that Jon Provost would be joining the cast, flying down from Santa Rosa, the night before. I was floored. Jon Provost? Timmy Martin from the Lassie Show is coming to be in “our commercial”?? I was amazed! Even though Drake did not say anything about me not talking about this, I said NOTHING to anyone except my husband, son, and his breeder and my friend, Gayle Kaye. This seemed unbelievable, and a bit magical.

Rory meets "Timmy" Jon Provost.

Let’s go back in time . . . 60 years: On any Sunday evening in 1959, I was 9 years old (as was Timmy). At 7pm I would have been seated, glued to the floor, so I could be super close, in front of my parent’s black and white Zenith TV watching “LASSIE.” It was on CBS, and sponsored by Campbell’s soup. I would always kiss the TV screen at the end when Lassie sat waving good-bye as the credits rolled. My dear mother bought all the promotional gifts that were available from Campbell’s Soup featuring Lassie. I wanted my own Collie from the very first show. In 1976 my dream came true with our first collie, Maggie. How amazing is it that 60 years later I was asked by Drake Vanhooser, if I would be interested in having my Rory act in a Jeromes’s Furniture store commercial with Jon Provost? (And I almost passed it up! Yikes!) Simply amazing!

The day before the commercial was filmed, Rory and I went to Gayle’s for his spa day of bathing, fluffing, and nail and feet trimming. Being June, he is in summer coat, but nonetheless, Rory looked fabulous. My husband who has never been to a commercial shoot mentioned that he wanted to come with Rory and me that Monday morning. Star power!

The shoot location, a neighborhood home in San Diego.
The film crew at the shoot location in San Diego.

The next morning my husband Tom, Rory and I and left home at 6am for our 8am “call”. Was “Timmy” really coming? I have met Jon at the Collie National Specialties. Was Rory really going to meet “Timmy” today? At 7:45 an Uber drives up to our shoot location (a neighborhood home in San Diego) and out steps “Timmy” … I mean Jon Provost. He walked up to us, and said “Hi”. Drake did the introductions of the film crew and the other actor, Jerome’s son, Mark. I guess Jon got coffee and then next thing I know, Rory and “Timmy” are sharing Jon’s breakfast burrito. Our day had begun! I was so enthralled.

Rory and "Timmy's" Burrito!

Who could ever imagine that 60 years later, my beautiful Rory would be hugged by Timmy, the same Timmy that was hugging Lassie on my most favorite TV show. Life is truly amazing.

Jon and Rory practice their scenes.

The story line for this Jerome’s Furniture commercial is that a beautiful Collie runs up to a man, Mark, played by Jerome’s real son, and indicates that a couple is going to shop at an unreliable furniture store. Mark and the collie run off to the store to help save the shoppers from “The Well of Deception”. After discussing furniture shopping with the couple, and this is done with quite a bit of humor, the one shopper is wearing a t-shirt that says “clueless” and Mark says to him, “I can see by your shirt that you are ‘clueless’ about buying furniture. Don’t be deceived by the well of deception.” They converse a bit with Rory sitting and watching the conversation. Suddenly “Timmy” appears at the store and calls “Girl, where have you been? I have been looking for you!” Rory runs to Timmy, and then Mark shows his surprise of Timmy and his collie being at the store. Then Timmy and Mark, with Rory standing by, convince the shoppers not to be deceived by the deceptive advertising. Rory then leads the way to a Jerome’s Furniture store. The end!

Mark and Rory Scene "At The Store."
Scene: “Timmy” appears at the store and calls “Girl, where have you been?"

Like all commercials (and I have had a bit of experience, as my golden retriever, Cooper, has done a few) the day was fun and long. There were lots of people working and everyone was busy. The set ups and blocking take a long time, 90 minutes is common, for every scene change. There were two video camera men, one still camera man, a sound boom operator, a director, a producer, a few assistants, all trying to get the best shots, using multiple angles and lighting and multiple cameras. And of course, make-up for the actors. I kept Rory fluffed and brushed, and I had a great assistant: lots of wind! Mark, Jon and I reviewed the script. Mark and Rory practiced their scenes. Jon and Rory practiced their scenes. The film crew was great. They were very eager to do this, and loved my dog. They made everything as easy as possible. There was one thing, though that might break your heart … as wonderful as they were, they were all young … probably no one over 30 … they did not know “Timmy” or his connection to “Lassie”! But they thought Rory was absolutely beautiful, and terrific, and a true professional! I was beaming. What a day!

Jon and Rory during "blocking" the first stage of a film shoot.

Rory had to perform three “go outs” … go outs are hard. Especially when Rory has had very little experience with them. A “go out” is when a dog must leave and go to a particular “mark” and then do something (wait, turn, sit etc.) when he gets there. Rory learned “on the fly”. He knows “go on” from agility so we used that as a foundation. I stood off camera giving Rory hand signals. Mark was so very good with him, always giving him the right cue. And Jon, well Jon, is the “Collie Whisperer.” I am proud to say that Rory met all his marks.

Jon and Rory practice their scenes.
Rory perfects his "go out."

There were all sorts of distractions that the production crew, the actors and Rory had to contend with: birds in the trees chirping REALLY loud, car traffic, motorcycle noise, honking cars, an armored bank truck backing up to make a delivery to Jerome’s … beep … beep … beep, canopies blowing over, people shopping that also almost walked into our set, the heat, the sun shining in the actors’ eyes, the wind. Just a typical day, but these things can cause many retakes.

The final sequence that was filmed at the end of the day was Rory sitting alone, looking beautiful, confident and noble. I believe this will be used when the credits are rolled at the end of the commercial.

Rory -- MBISS CH Chelsea Here Comes the Sun, VCD1 CD BN TDX AXP OJP CGC HIC

The production company and the Jerome’s employees who made this commercial are without a doubt the nicest people I have ever had the pleasure to work with. It was the most marvelous experience. They even included me in their staff group photo at the end of the day. Elijah Barron, the film crew photographer, very generously gave Jon and me, 168 beautiful pictures to enjoy and share!

The entire film crew with Rory and Jeannette Poling (far right).

And you probably want to know about our day with Jon. We had breakfast with him, and lunch with him (both catered by Jerome’s) and we sat around and played on our iPhones while we waited (he taught me how to “Air Drop” photos). He is one terrific guy, and so unassuming, and low key. And now we are email pals, and Face Book friends, and we are bonded forever: but I guess we have always been bonded, through our love of Collies, and our love for that very special girl, Lassie!

I have now run out or words. It was such a fabulous day, full of so many sweet memories! There are no words to describe the pride that Gayle Kaye, his breeder, and I have for Rory, as he spent the day making this commercial and through it will show the public how truly wonderful and special collies are: what a day to remember!

> Watch The Commercial Here!

This feature was published on July 20, 2019 courtesy colliesonline.com. All Photos by Elijah Barron, for the Jerome’s Furniture Commercial

Editors Note: Watch the first episode at Youtube.com with Timmy on the Lassie TV Show . Episode 116 aired on December 1, 1957 :: Season 4.

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