Pup's fit fur royalty from NYPost
Queen’s pup takes the throne in ‘The Young Victoria’
Last Updated: 2:54 PM, December 20, 2009
Posted: 11:58 PM, December 19, 2009
Emily Blunt isn’t the only one in “The Young Victoria” who steals almost every scene she’s in. That honor is shared by a 7½-month-old pup named Tori, who plays Victoria’s beloved pooch, Dash.
“Dashy,” a cavalier King Charles spaniel — the breed named for one of Victoria’s royal ancestors — was Victoria’s biggest supporter and most loyal friend throughout her lonely childhood and politically turbulent teen years. The film accurately reflects the big role tiny Dash played in the life of his princess and later queen, appearing in almost every scene with Blunt.
In fact, the movie’s team of producers — including Sarah Ferguson and Martin Scorsese — were sticklers for historical accuracy, which dictated that Dash be portrayed onscreen by this exact breed of spaniel.
Enter British animal trainer Gill Raddings, who cast the intelligent four-footed female cavalier Tori as the all-important Dash. As coincidence would have it, the nickname Tori just happens to be a diminutive of Victoria!
Tori’s impressive range of skills — all learned in the short span of six weeks — include walking backward, sitting up and begging, standing on her hind legs, walking with an actor off lead, rolling over, crawling on her stomach, sleeping on command and playing dead. It sounds like nice work if you can get it, but make no mistake — it’s still a dog’s life.
“Tori’s very intelligent,” says Raddings, whose agency also helped cast other royal biopics such as “The Duchess,” “The Other Boleyn Girl” and “Elizabeth: The Golden Age.”
In addition to her aforementioned duties, Tori added a new skill to her repertoire: patiently getting bathed before a camera.
In one particularly memorable scene, Lord Melbourne (Paul Bettany) visits Victoria immediately after her coronation ceremony to discover the newly crowned queen attending to the very important matter of giving her dog a bath. “He wouldn’t have it any other way,” the new monarch tells her adviser with a smile. That scene reveals a lot about Victoria; she was famous for being an animal lover who treated pets like, well, royalty.
Dash aged quite a bit during the film — from his bright-eyed puppyhood, when young Victoria played with dolls, to his golden years, as his queen gives birth to her first baby. In order to reflect the passage of time, Raddings took special care of Tori’s makeup: “A bit of Vaseline around the eyes makes a dog look older or weary,” Raddings reveals.
Off-screen, however, Tori, who’s now almost 3 years old, is still the picture of youthful vigor — and to judge from her bitch-perfect performance in “The Young Victoria,” she’ll need the energy, for this able-bodied animal actor has a long, busy career ahead.