Griffin was never supposed to be a star. Given up to a kill shelter in Ohio during what his current owner, Gregg Boersma, believes was a foreclosure dispute, the Siberian husky mix seemed destined for euthanasia. Then Boersma saw his photo online and thought the little dog might help heal his broken heart.
“Our previous dog had escaped from the house during a rainstorm and was hit by a car and killed,” says Boersma. “I vowed that the next dog would be very well trained so something like that wouldn’t happen again -- I took personal responsibility for the fact that I couldn’t call him in once he was loose.”
Boersma and his wife, Teresa, drove to Cleveland to meet Griffin, and three and a half years later, their little rescue is about to be a star, appearing in the Baltimore Symphony Orchestra’s “A Midsummer NIght’s Dream: A Concert,” this summer, in collaboration with the Folger Theatre in Washington, D.C.
The show will run May 29 to June 1, premiering at the Music Center at Strathmore in Rockville, and then offering three performances at the Joseph Meyerhoff Symphony Hall in Baltimore. And Griffin will play a big part in what the BSO calls “a major player and comedic highlight in this imaginative reinterpretation of this classic Shakespeare comedy.”
“Griffin has a little stage experience,” says Boeersma, who works for a Washington, D.C., trade association by day and is a dog trainer at night and on weekends. “He played Sandy in an elementary school production of 'Annie.'” While the show at Jones Elementary in Severna Park was for small children, Boersma says the parent directors were pretty experienced in theatre and it was a sophisticated production.
Griffin was one of five finalists after an open casting call held by the BSO last week. Dogs were asked to be friendly, happy, potty trained, able to be on a leash, and able to roll over, play dead, stay, and sit on command. Griffin exhibited a love of training as soon as he arrived at his adoptive Annapolis home three and a half years ago, and was perfect for the part.
“We started with basic obedience,” says his owner. “He sort of took to it, I sort of became obsessed with it, and we kept going and going.” Griffin is a frequent visitor to downtown Annapolis and was named Fan of the Game at a recent Washington Nationals’ Pups in the Park event.
Griffin will co-star with John Bolger of “General Hospital” and Linda Powell of “Chicago Fire” in the BSO production. The show will be conducted by Marin Alsop and stage directed by Edward Berkeley. Tickets range from $29 to $94 and can be obtained by calling 410.783.8000 or visiting BSOmusic.org.
Boersma, for his part, is looking forward to working with Griffin and keeping his little dog’s ego in check despite the spotlight.
“I think the most significant fact is that Griffin was surrendered by his first owner and faced the possibility of being euthanized,” he says. “Now look at what he's doing! In short, a rescue dog can be a fantastic companion, given proper attention and training. So anyone that has the misperception that they can't get a good dog from a shelter or rescue organization is incorrect.”