Sarah rocks with Solo

In the winter of 2022 I received an email from a casting producer asking if I had any animals with unique talents. It seems they were looking for talent for a new TV show that was based on David Letterman’s Stupid Pet Tricks segment. The series would be hosted by comedienne Sarah Silverman and would consist of ten half-hour episodes.

 With Ducky being in her senior years and Besa just getting ready to have her first litter, I knew that Solo would be the perfect choice for this show—especially since he had perfected the same rocking horse trick that his Great-great grandsire Gabe had done for Letterman!

We were quickly scheduled for a Zoom audition where we could perform Solo’s tricks for the producers. After a second interview a few days later we were informed that they definitely wanted to include me and my silly boy in their upcoming TV series. My gracious boss once again allowed me to have the time off from work and arrangements were made for us to fly to CA for the filming. I discovered they would be filming all ten episodes over a five day span, with one each morning and a second in the afternoon.

With Covid barely in our rearview mirror they were taking extra precautions not to bring any affected people on set and everyone was required to have a negative test within two days of traveling. Clear results equaled another item checked off the list. “Ol’ Sliver” was packed up and sent off via Fed Ex to be ready and waiting for another ride in the spotlight. Solo was checked out and given a clean bill of health, my wardrobe options were approved and packed—and then we were off to the airport!

After landing in LA, we were whisked off via private limo and checked into the hotel in Glendale where they administered a second Covid test in preparation for the next day’s filming. While there we ran into several people with interesting pets who were also novelty acts for the production. Word was they had booked quite a menagerie for the show: a camel, fox, wallaby, goats, cats, rats, pig, horse, parrot, dogs and more were among the talented critters who would be performing.

Our episode was scheduled for the afternoon so we enjoyed a lazy morning before our limo arrived to take us to the set location. Upon arrival we were escorted through the lot to our awaiting trailer that would be our “home away from home” during the day’s proceedings. Within a few minutes our final Covid test cleared us for our performance and we were served a delicious lunch while we waited for our turn on set.

I was allowed to take Solo for quick potty walks but had to keep our assigned producer apprised of our whereabouts as time on set is an extremely valuable commodity and you must be available at all times when needed. During one of these outings I met a contestant who was wrapping up from the morning shoot—yet another Bulldog entertainer! Henny was 11 years old and still an avid skateboarder. I was able to snap a quick photo with both bullies before heading back to our trailer.

At last we were called to set, walking through the maze of cables, buildings and bodies. Waiting in the wings we saw the giant rocking horse someone had mentioned that Sarah would be riding alongside Solo during his performance. Next thing I knew Sarah Silverman was introducing us to the audience and we joined her on the podium. There was a pause in filming and Sarah very sweetly looked into my eyes and exclaimed, “You’re so pretty!” I’m sure it was a ploy to help me relax—and it worked!

After Solo’s trick demo, Sarah suddenly grabbed his horse, saying, “You know, I want to ride with this guy!”  and led us across the stage to her human-sized rocking horse where she set it in place. The two of them, astride their ponies with a green screen behind them proceeded to rock back and forth in tandem, all the while engaging in spirited convo. They had asked me to have Solo rock for as long as he would and, although we usually called it good after three or four rocks, this boy continued rocking for several minutes while they captured the action they needed.

Following our performance on stage we were taken to another room where they filmed additional “B” roll footage (this was never used as the green screen footage was such a success). We then returned to our trailer until the four acts were called back to set for the revealing of the “Stupidest Pet Trick of the Week”. I learned that one of the other performers that week was a trained rat and decided to inform the producers that Solo played a sport called “Barn Hunt” where he hunted rats! It was wisely decided to have the owner on stage for that portion sans rats and no one was the wiser. 

Letterman had always made it clear that his Stupid Pet Tricks segments were “not a contest” so it was a surprise to find that the crowning of a winner was part of each episode for this series. As they announced that “Cheryl and Solo” were awarded the honor and they proceeded to say “Solo wins an early retirement package including his own doggy Airstream trailer, $500 of doggy bitcoin, etc. etc.” I assumed it was a joke! But alas I received a phone call a few days after returning home to ask whether I wanted the prizes or the $1500 cash value! That, coupled with the $1000 per diem given for our trip, more than covered my lost wages from work. And it was yet another wonderful adventure with my pups!

All ten episodes were completed and had been pre-approved for broadcasting, yet due to the ongoing writers’ and actors’ strike it would be almost exactly two years before the series aired in 2024. When it did it was obvious that Solo had become the poster child for this quirky show as he appeared in all of the commercial spots as well as with the logo during each episode. Gabe’s legacy lives on!