Fortunately for Kelley—and fans of her tail-wagging Grinch performance—Hollywood animal trainer Roger Schumacher, 45, got a call from a shelter worker suggesting that he stop by. "She was real hyper, he recalls, "but smart as a whip."
Just one month later Schumacher unleashed Kelley at a Grinch casting call. "I was looking for an odd-looking canine," says director Ron Howard. With her mutt pedigree (most likely an Airedale-soft-coated-wheaten-terrier mix), big, big eyes and the addition of floppy prosthetic ears, Kelley collared the part. (Although a total of six dogs ultimately traded duties as Max, Kelley appears in all the film's close-up shots.)
While Schumacher tries not to spoil his new star, the pair recently enjoyed the perks of fame during a stay at the Plaza hotel in Manhattan for a Today show appearance. As befits a star, Kelley luxuriated in her own queen-size bed. Says Schumacher with a grin: "She liked that!"