So how did Kuma come to be an animal actor, you wonder? Well, it was late one night... I was online and saw a photo of a very cute puppy, whose sad brown eyes pierced into the camera lens (and into my heart) asking me to take him home.
That weekend, I drove to the South Los Angeles Animal Shelter and met baby Kuma for the first time. At approximately 9 weeks old his life was off to a very rocky start. My very first impression went like this: there I saw him... a tiny, filthy puppy, huddled up in the back of a 6 x 6 kennel. The crowded kennel was full of feces and it was filled with a litter of much larger, older, Pit Bull puppies.
I stood there and I watched him for awhile, noticing that he wasn't able to get any food out of the small tin dish the kennel attendant came and tossed down. The larger puppies would bite, attacking him if he tried to eat. Baby Kuma would run yelping to the back on the kennel and then he would come back and try a few moments later with the same results.
I watched outside the locked kennel, I felt so helpless and terrible for this little puppy that seemed to be starving. I went and got a kennel attendant and very coldly, he told me there was nothing they could do about it since they were overcrowded and didn't have the space to separate him. I gave him the stink eye and I returned to watch Baby Kuma's pathetic attempts to get just one kibble.
That's when I made a very important decision that would change the course of my life... I decided to get that puppy the heck outta there! I just needed to save him and fate could decide the rest of our journey (since I was not permitted to have pets at that time where I lived).
(The photo below is the first time I ever laid eyes on my little boy!)
I went to adopt Kuma and paid the small adoption fee and with both nervousness and excitement. To my dismay they would not let me take him home that night. I had to wait until Monday once he was neutered. I hated leaving him at the shelter that night, but I knew that soon, a better life awaited him.
When I went to pick him up at the spay & neuter clinic, when the vet brought him out, she told me how skinny and malnourished he was. He was all ribs and no meat. Poor puppy! He was so skinny under all that fur, the vet guessed he hadn't eaten much in the entire time he was at the shelter (7 days). I told her how I saw the other puppies attacking him whenever he tried to eat. He had wounds all over. The vet told me that he needed a lot of TLC and I made her a promise that I would give him plenty of love.
I did not know that Kuma would become my "heart" dog. You know, one of those special ones that lives in your heart for eternity. Fate brought us together that day. Kuma was my true soul mate dog. Our bond and our love is immeasurable.
After his homecoming I realized a few import things about my puppy. First, he was extremely food aggressive. He ate food with such vigor, he acted like it was his last meal. To this day he still has issues with food. The second thing, was that he was almost feral. He would snap at me when I tried to pet him. He wanted nothing to do with petting and cuddles. He wasn't accustomed to being touched or handled. Fortunately, his love for food and my love for him, helped him overcome this.
The most important thing that I realized that I had just adopted a brilliant puppy. Smart doesn't even begin to describe his ability to learn behaviors and how quickly he got things. Kuma learned his first trick in a mere few seconds, his second trick just minutes later -- his precision and quick learning ability blew me away! What a smarty pants. He was a learning machine!!
For the next 6 years Kuma underwent consistent training, and through incredible teamwork he learned things rapidly and he taught me a ton about training dogs! In his prime, he knew over 65 behaviors, having mastered complex commands such as putting a coin in a piggy bank, recycling cans and plastic bottles, scratching a flea on cue, jumping through my arms and on my back, and working with actors on a film set, looking like he truly belonged to them.
Kuma's canine resume is very impressive. He LOVES to be on set. He lights up whenever he knows he is going to work. At two years old he landed his first job, working on a late night infomercial for Pawws Pet Vitamins and did several print shoots until he finally got his first big break being cast as "Cesar" on the Hallmark film Fielder's Choice. The director was so impressed with Kuma this led him to get cast as "Jesse" playing John Larroquette's dog for the Hallmark Mystery Series McBride.
To date, Kuma has over well over 100 professional acting credits. For a partial list please take a look at his resume. I try to keep track of his jobs but there have been many I have forgotten to write down. Kuma enjoys doing studio work so much that sometimes I think he's a reincarnated "Cary Grant." When he is on set Kuma is truly in his element.
As his owner / trainer it always made me so proud to see my boy shine. I feel so fortunate to be part of his life and since I feel he is an extraordinary canine, I wanted to share my special dog with the rest of the world through his studio jobs and by creating this website for his loving and supportive fans.
When he is not on set Kuma enjoys being a regular dog. He lives with several other animals on a small farm. He likes to remind everyone that he is their pack leader. Kuma is totally a momma's boy and everyone in his pack knows that he is my #1 guy. He can sometimes be bossy, but also the most gentle animal you will ever see with different types of animal species.
I can put baby chicks or baby bunnies all around Kuma and he would never think to harm them. Kuma grew up with exposure to every type of animals you can think of. He even let a horse take a carrot from his mouth once and Kuma has hung out with an African Elephant!!
Kuma is very gentle with cats since he was raised with a litter of kittens when he was a pup. His favorite game is tug-o-war, his favorite toys are the really loud, squeaky (annoying) ones. He enjoys keeping a look out for rogue squirrels and lizards. Kuma's favorite activity is going for a long hike, and most off all he enjoys EATING food! Boiled, organic, free range chicken is his favorite.
Please enjoy this site and feel free to send us a question or a comment. Thank you so much for your messages of support and for visiting!!
- Sarah (Kuma's mom)