De Soto senior teaches an old dog new tricks for ‘Annie’
De Soto High School senior Breanna Sigman has a big role in the school's production of "Annie," but the audience won't see her on stage.
Breanna is the trainer of Dakota, the dog who will play Annie's companion, Sandy.
When she was 12 years old, Breanna got Dakota who was 6 weeks old.
"Even at that point I was giving him basic commands like 'sit,'" she said.
Breanna started training Dakota through 4-H when he was 6 months old. He is now five years old.
However, Dakota was not the first dog she had trained. Before Dakota, Breanna trained a Brittany, which was owned by her mom's boss.
Breanna showed Dakota in obedience and showmanship and has gone to the Kansas State Fair for obedience the past for years. Dakota just finished the Grad Novice level and is now in Open A.
On stage, Dakota is with actress Brittney Partlow who plays Annie. There are only a few scenes where Dakota is not on a leash, and Brittney is able to get him to obey her by putting her voice at a higher pitch so he pays attention and also by holding a treat in her hand at all times.
Breanna said Dakota won't notice the large audience because of the stage lights and that he is used to audiences anyhow because of his experience in dog shows. Instead, Breanna has another obstacle.
"The biggest challenge is the fact that he wants to come off stage to me," she said.
Mary Etta Copeland, director of vocal music, said although dogs aren't always involved in productions, it is not the first time.
"We had Toto in 'The Wizard of Oz,'" she said. "I've seen other schools even have a horse on stage."