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Spot an Orlando Dalmatian in Disney’s ‘Cruella’

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Orlando Sentinel
Orlando Sentinel
 2021-06-10

A Dalmatian from Orlando that performs tricks at a Universal Orlando show stars in Disney’s live-action “Cruella,” which recently debuted on Disney+ and in theaters.

In the film, Parker, who was rescued from a shelter in Missouri in 2017, plays one of three Dalmatians owned by The Baroness.

“Parker was the one, from what I was told, that actually was used for most of the scenes because the stunt double didn’t work out,” said Jennifer Mohr, Parker’s owner and an animal trainer with Birds & Animals Unlimited. “Parker was the one that made the cut, so to speak, and he did really well in all the behaviors that they had to rehearse for the movie.”

Parker first joined animal talent and training company Birds & Animals Unlimited in 2017, when Mohr tracked him down.

“We look all over the United States for that face and that perfect personality,” said the 41-year-old said, who recalls searching for her top choice: a Dalmatian.

“I had one for 17 years, and it’s my favorite breed,” she said. After visiting rescue shelters across Florida, she found 1-year-old Parker in Missouri.

“Instantly, I fell in love with him,” said Mohr. “I took him home right on the spot.”

When she first adopted the “quirky, energetic and very bouncy” pooch, he was a bit shy, so Mohr began socializing with him.

She introduced him to new people and brought him to various locations, including Universal Studios, where they both work on the Animal Actors On Location! show.

“The main part of his training was socialization because he lacked that before I had gone and picked him up,” she said. When he started to come out of his shell, she paired Parker with an older, more confident rescue dog, so Parker could “pick up on that energy.”

Then she trained him on behaviors, from sit and lie down to more complicated maneuvers like the ones featured in the Universal show.

“We kind of get them ready for production in a way because they’re doing behaviors in the show with us,” said Mohr, who noted she didn’t do any specific prep for the film, as many of these roles come up spur of the moment and she works with Parker daily on behaviors.

The “Cruella” role isn’t Parker’s first gig, nor his first time working with Disney. He’s been a part of commercials for Volkswagen and Zyrtec. He can also be seen in the pound scene in the live-action “ Lady and the Tramp ” film that debuted on Disney+ in 2019.

Mohr joined Parker for the shorter “Lady and the Tramp” filming but couldn’t fly to the United Kingdom for his eight-month “Cruella” shoot. Instead, Yuka Fukushima, an animal trainer with Birds & Animals Unlimited U.K. branch, accompanied him.

“I missed him a lot,” Mohr said. “I couldn’t have asked for a better person or friend to be on that team with Parker because he did an excellent job.”

Fukushima said Parker loved being on set.

“Everyone loved him, and he got lots of attention from crews,” she wrote in an email. “It was really good for him. He started being on training a little bit behind the other dallys, but he learned everything fast, so caught up with them very quickly.”

During filming, the “Cruella” Dalmatians were always together and, most times, had to perform the same action.

“It sounds easy, but for most dogs, it would become a competition, and that could ruin their performances,” Fukushima said. “But Parker was different; he had such a nice heart and didn’t compete, so every scene with Parker was a joy.”

“Cruella” is in theaters now and available on Disney+ to subscribers with Premier Access (an additional $29.99).

Want to reach out? Email me at kchristiansen@orlandosentinel.com . For more fun things, follow @fun.things.orlando on Instagram , Facebook and Twitter .

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