Two alleged bird-snatching burglars are prowling the Arizona State (ASU) campus this holiday week. Slobbery, unapologetic and thoroughly lovable, Hoss and Stella play the role of The Bumpus Hounds, Ralphie’s Old Man’s nemeses in the beloved Christmas movie turned Broadway musical, “A Christmas Story.” The Bloodhound duo and their handler, Doug Terranova, yesterday gave Examiner some time before their backstage call at ASU Gammage.
“They make two passes across the stage and eventually ruin Christmas dinner,” chuckled Terranova, though his description was a humble understatement compared to last night’s bounding and frolicking that the audience lapped up with laughter and applause.
Those who’ve seen ‘A Christmas Story’ may recall that along with Ralphie–who desperately wants a Red Rider BB Gun from Santa–the story also includes his Old Man, whose professional caliber profanity is egged on by several irritations, including the neighbor’s hound dogs. Enter, Hoss and Stella.
Like the whip cream on Thanksgiving pumpkin pie, the bloodhounds wagged their way up the front sidewalk Tuesday afternoon at ASU Gammage to pose in front of their poster hanging on the box office entrance wall. Both, now owned by the touring ‘A Christmas Story’ production, were rescued animals before their muzzles caught the scent of stardom. Now, they steal hearts on stages across the country, cared for and trained by Terranova.
“When they’re not working they live on my acreage just outside of Dallas,” said Terranova, noting Stella is just a year and a half old while Hoss will turn five next month.
As the two entered the stately Frank Lloyd Wright designed hall, their noses kept them curiously if shyly investigating. Stella shared a surprised nose to nose moment with an inflatable Rudolph who was also in the lobby. Hoss was prepared to sit patiently and accept cuddles without hesitation, while Stella politely hung back just a little with cautious but youthful wriggles.
“An actor like Christopher Swan [who plays The Old Man] is really exceptional. He gets it, and he took the time to really know the dogs,” said Terranova. “He’s a professional who works to raise the performance level of everyone onstage [even canines]. He carries around treats for them. If there’s dog spit on his hands, he just wipes it on his pants and goes on to the next scene.”
Swan proved Terranova right. Along with his terrific comedic timing and polished lyric delivery, it was Swan who also burst across the stage with Stella and Hoss for their curtain call to shouts and whistles.
Capturing hearts along with hoping to nab turkeys in ‘A Christmas Story’ at ASU Gammage, these two were worth the price of admission.