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27 November 2014

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You are in: Berkshire > Features > People > Animal Dramatics

Jackie Rowberry with Star the deer

Jackie Rowberry with Star the deer

Animal Dramatics

Do you fancy seeing your pet on the telly or even the silver screen? We chatted to a Reading-based trainer who supplies animals of all kinds to films, adverts, TV series and even music videos…

If you have a film-star feline, a doggone good canine actor or even a Hollywood hamster, then you can put their talents to use. The long-established Animal Dramatics is run by Jackie Rowberry and is always searching for pets to appear in films, adverts, TV series and even music videos.

“I’m always on the look out for stars, whether they are trained to do anything or not”, says Jackie, who is based in Reading. “Sometimes it’s just a dog on a lead that’s needed for an advert but I can’t keep every single breed here, so the more on my books the better. Plus they do get paid!”

Garfield and Martin Clunes

Garfield and Martin Clunes

But what about that old adage that you can’t teach an old dog new tricks? “I think you can teach an old dog new tricks”, she replies, “even animals who you can’t teach to do anything on command you can bribe them into doing it! Cats for example will do anything for a piece of fish. If you want a cat to walk from one end of the room to the other end but via a table, there’s no way he’s going to do it on command. But if you dangle a kipper from the ceiling he will!”

Tilly with a severed hand for Midsomer Murders

Tilly with a severed hand for Midsomer Murders

Jackie’s actors have a long ream of credits, including Casualty, Coronation Street, Chuckle Vision, Rory Bremner, My Hero, My Family, French & Saunders, Lock Stock and Two Smoking Barrels, Graham Norton, Shooting Stars and scores more.

Father Ted fans will remember the famous rabbit scene when bunny-phobic Bishop Brennan goes to his bedroom to find it over-run with the furry creatures. All 50 rabbits were supplied by Jackie.

Jackie also had a famous deer on her books. Star appeared in a Spice Girls video for their hit Two Become One. How did she train a wild animal?

”I had her when she was a day old, her mother had died" Jackie explains. "Although she was still a wild animal she was already tamer than other wild animals as she was used to people and noises from TVs and vehicles. In a way she was like a dog, she used to follow me around. She’d go off into the woods by my house but when I called her she would come galloping over. She’d also used to knock on doors with her hooves and she’d do anything for Hula Hoops!”

Dexter and Richard Wilson

Dexter and Richard Wilson

So can anyone become an animal trainer? “I don’t think so", she says firmly, "you’ve got to have something special, what it is I don’t know, but like the horse whisperer and Barbara Woodhouse, they’ve got that special something.

"I was always around animals as a child and I come from a circus background so I just think it’s in your blood. You can’t make someone a comedian if they’re not funny – it needs to come naturally."

You can hire a xmas sleigh with pony or reindeer

You can hire a xmas sleigh with pony or reindeer

Jackie has a long history in animal training, starting out at just 15 in 1979 to work for a major horse supplier to the film industry. “All I wanted to do when I left school was work with horses” she said. Lucky Jackie found herself travelling the country working with actors, both human and equine, in productions such as The Flambards, The Onedin Line and Pride and Prejudice.

As well as filming she also supplies for prints, live stage parades, birthday parties, weddings and fetes.

If you’d like to get your pet on the books at Animal Dramatics email: Jackie@animaldramatics.co.uk or ring 0118 981 5934.

last updated: 22/06/07

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