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How this malnourished pup went from scavenging for food to starring in a Hollywood movie

There is a rising star in Hollywood today, although she may not be the typical two-legged star that you have in mind.

Shelby, who plays Bella in the movie “A Dog’s Way Home” is a two-year old pup whose own life story is as fascinating as the character she played in the movie. The filmmakers had very specific requirements for the role of Bella: She had to be a Pitbull mix (like in W. Bruce Cameron’s novel) and she had to be a rescue dog.

Shelby’s rags to riches story began in a landfill at Tennessee, where she was found looking for food. “She was skinny and malnourished, but she sparkled with personality”, said Animal control officer Jordi to Inside Edition.

Shelby’s tail never stopped wagging, she was always happy”, Jordi said. “She was always fun to be around, she is one of those that smiles with her heart.”

The landfill where Shelby was found. (Source: Inside Edition)

She was taken to a local shelter and was later on spotted by Debbie Pearl, the owner of Paws for Effect which trains dogs for movies, and who later adopted Shelby.

We thought she was absolutely magnificent and gorgeous. The next step was to go out and meet her in person to determine – is she the right dog, does she have what it takes to be a movie star dog, does the dog have a good temperament, does she have a drive to learn?” Debbie said, who also runs Dream Fetchers, a non-profit organization.

Shelby with Debbie Pearl. (Source: Inside Edition)

Team lead trainer and animal coordinator Teresa Ann Miller was also one of those who witnessed how Shelby aced the basic training tests.

From the day I met Shelby, I knew it very quickly. She’s just it. That’s Bella. I don’t think I’ve seen so much potential. We hit the jackpot.” Teresa said in an interview. “I can’t even explain the words that come from having an animal that connects with you like that. “ She goes on.

Source: Inside Edition

Shelby was hired and began her training. She learned how to respond to various commands such as bark on cue, look at different directions, go to marked spots that would make her jump, dig and knock over trash cans in preparation for the movie.

There might be a lot of dogs out there who might have been a good fit to play the role of Bella, but Shelby was quite different. Her soul is what made everyone in the crew fall in love with her. And although a lot of our furry friends can do the just the same, not everyone will have the movie star material.

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Her story is just getting better. After her success in Hollywood, Shelby now visits children at hospitals as a therapy dog and brings hope and happiness to kids with autism and to those around her.

The book that inspired the movie, “Shelby’s Story: A Dog’s Way Home Tale” was written by W. Bruce Cameron. Share this article to make the world known how a scavenger dog like Shelby can have a second chance at life and make a difference in the lives of others.

Watch the heartwarming below of how this malnourished dog became Hollywood’s new ‘It’ girl.


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