Legally Blonde

Cassie Johnson, administrative assistant at Vive Les Arts, with the potential scene-stealer "Bruiser" she recruited from Killeen's Humane Heroes.

Defying the long-held theater tradition of “never share the stage with children nor animals,” the book for “Legally Blonde” by Heather Hach features a cute pooch.

Described by a critic as “unnaturally obedient,” the canine in question is the main prop for the title character, sorority girl Elle Woods. More often than not, the dog chosen for the role is a Chihuahua mix, reminiscent of the infamous “Itty-expletive-Bitty” of “Tuna Christmas” fame.

Vive Les Arts administrative assistant Cassie Johnson received the call to conduct canine auditions. “So I headed over to Humane Heroes,” she said.

The Texas Humane Heroes Adoption Center headquarters is in Leander, though the Killeen branch is where Johnson headed. Fully funded by donations, grants and “modest fees for services,” it is an official 501(c)(3) nonprofit.

After auditioning about 10 prospective pups, Johnson made an executive decision: a small, Chihuahua mixed breed. “The only one who didn’t bark,” Johnson said. “Very calm, obedient.”

And then there’s the name issue: “Bruiser” would seem to indicate a male, but the dog’s actual gender has yet to be divulged. “What’s important is that it’s cute and minds,” Johnson said. The pup is “somewhere between 1 to 1½ years old.” But neither Vive Les Arts nor Johnson have (so far) formally adopted Bruiser.

The stage veteran will be available to a good home after the final performance of “Legally Blonde” on Aug. 4.

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