Dog saved from death row now stars in Oliver

Just last year, Kym the Staffordshire Bull Terrier was stuck on doggy death row and facing a grim future.

Monday, 9th March 2015, 8:18 am
Kym on stage with Bill Sikes (Lech Boron) and Fagin (Charlie Munro). Picture: contributed
Kym on stage with Bill Sikes (Lech Boron) and Fagin (Charlie Munro). Picture: contributed

The down-on-her-luck pooch – thought to be around three years old – had been found abandoned in April and was on a seven-day waiting list to be put to sleep.

But fast forward eleven months and the friendly Staffie is now happily re-homed – and starring in a production of the hit musical Oliver at Edinburgh’s King’s Theatre.

Kym was rescued from the paws of death by the charity Staffie Smiles, which works to save the much-misunderstood breed from council pounds across the UK when the dogs have been abandoned by their owners.

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And just a couple of weeks after being ta ken in by the charity, she was adopted by mum-of-two Louise Lessels and her husband Bryan.

Louise, a practice nurse at Howe of Fife Medical Centre, insisted the family had fallen in love with the pooch as soon as they set eyes on her.

She said: “After only a few weeks, she settled in and her true sweet nature shone through.

“It breaks my heart to think it was only in April last year that this sweet little dog was picked up as a stray and, as she was unclaimed, was on the ‘put to sleep’ list.

“We’re very proud of Kym as she’s a great ambassador for the breed. There are hundreds of Staffies unnecessarily being put to sleep every day.

“Once you let a Staffie into your life, you will never look back. They are loyal, loving little dogs that deserve some much-needed good press.”

And when Louise, who lives in Freuchie, Fife, spotted an advert looking for a star pooch to play the part of Bill Sikes’ ferocious dog Bullseye in a production of Oliver a few months later, she decided to put Kym up for the role.

But the friendly canine’s gentle nature and happy disposition made playing the mean-spirited English bull terrier of Dickens’ world a tricky transformation.

Co-star Natalie Dewar, part of Oliver’s ensemble cast, revealed that far from being the villain of the piece, Kym had initially wanted nothing more than a pat and a treat from her fellow cast members.

The 25-year-old said: “She’s great on stage. She had a couple of little things at the beginning, where – because we have all been going up to pet her all the time – she would just come up to us and be really happy and want to be petted.

“She has a great temperament and is so friendly. I think she’s got her role nailed now but she still wags her tail a lot. She has to stand there and look mean and menacing.”

And she revealed the dog had been given star treatment – complete with her own dressing room.

“Her’s is actually closer to the stage than mine,” she said.

“And she’s great with the noise. She only thing she has issues with is at the end when the audience are applauding. She comes out for a few moments, but then she just wants to come off and be with her owner.

“She loved the attention in rehearsals – all the kids were going up and petting her. There are so many kids, but she wasn’t overwhelmed or anything. The adults just had to wait their turn and pretend that they didn’t want to pet her too.”