Nellie (Toto) is a Superstar!

My little Nellie has become a star of stage! For those of you who may have missed it (, I blogged about volunteering to train my little, bitty ragamuffin of a mutt to become a believable Toto in the Santa Rosa Junior College production of the Wizard of Oz.  Nellie and I trained tirelessly for two solid months during which time no one was allowed to call her Nellie.  We helped her “get into character” by referring to her only as Toto.  There were training treats galore (she may have gained a pound or more) and my family and neighbors grew tired of hearing my high-pitched commands of, “Nellie come!”  While all of this was going on, my husband Alan was rehearsing for his dual roles as Professor Marvel and The Wizard of Oz. 


The production was a stunning success!  The actors were brilliant, the costumes were breathtaking, and the sets were extraordinary.  There were flying witches and flying monkeys, and the hurricane scene was dazzling.  I may be a bit biased in my assessment, but want you to know that my husband was nothing short of spectacular in his acting debut.  And what about little Nellie?  This marvelous little canine actress captured the character of Toto in a fashion never before realized on stage or film.  She was utterly captivating as she sat demurely in her basket, listened attentively as her beloved Dorothy sang “Somewhere Over the Rainbow”, stole a hotdog on cue from Professor Marvel, acted fearful in the arms of the flying monkeys, and successfully escaped from the witch’s castle! 

From start to finish, Nellie was a little angel and grew to love going to the theatre.  The entire cast and technical crew doted on her and she even had her own personal stage manager who made sure that she had opportunity to empty her bladder and showed up at the right places at the right times.  She received thunderous applause during the cast bows.  My little Nellie is truly a superstar.  It may be time to think about finding her an agent! 

Wishing you and your four-legged family members abundant good health,

Dr. Nancy Kay
Specialist, American College of Veterinary Internal Medicine 

Please visit to read excerpts from Speaking for Spot. There you will also find “Advocacy Aids”- helpful health forms you can download and use for your own dog, and a collection of published articles on advocating for your pet’s health. Speaking for Spot is available at, local bookstores, or your favorite online book seller. 

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11 Comments on “Nellie (Toto) is a Superstar!

  1. What a fun story! perhaps you should contact the man who does train all the totos, he too has been on Terri Gross’s Fresh Air show recently! And yet, I am sure that you will not be willing to let her go live and work with him. Does this mean that Dr Nancy Kay will become her dog’s agent and go on the road with her? Thanks for the chuckles. Best

  2. How sweet, and everyone looked so professional; your Nellie/Toto is now a star What is next year’s performance, perhaps there is a part for Nellie?

  3. Fabulous! You and Nellie are an inspiration. Will have to encourage our local theater groups to consider choosing plays which require a frisbee catching border collie or food obsessed cocker spaniel.

  4. Funny thing, the production just crossed my mind this morning for some reason or another and I was wondering how Nellie did! Great to hear she is ***STAR*** along with Alan, of course! Talented family you have there. Loved the photos, thanks for sharing the most excellent results (can Hollywood be far behind???? :) ).

  5. Bravo! Hard work and polishing natural talent paid off beautifully for both Nellie and Alan. I would love to have seen them perform. They seemed to enjoy their roles, so I hope they get to express themselves on stage again soon. Have a wonderful 2010!

  6. Nellie looks every bit like the real toto , the play looks pretty fabulous in the pics enclosed! Well done little nellie woof woof! from Bangalore India !

  7. Excellent–how lucky for you to have such talent in the family! Best wishes for all in the New Year!

  8. Nellie/Toto looks absolutely ravishing! Kudos to you, Alan, and Nellie for giving such wonderful community support. You helped to enrich the lives of a lot of people.

  9. Congratulations Nellie/Toto! I’ll be looking for your next adventure in the theatre. Hope 2010 is gracious to you and your humans.
    Daisy and Barbara