"A Dog's Way Home" Canine Star's Fascinating Journey From Landfill To Hollywood


Shelby, a rescue dog, stars as Bella in the movie A Dog’s Way Home ( Credit: Sony Pictures)

Shelby, who plays Bella in the recent Sony Pictures release A Dog’s Way Home, has all the traits of a celebrity pooch: bright, golden eyes, expressive eyebrows, and a big, brown nose. However, the pit bull mix did not always seem destined to be a movie star. About two years ago, Shelby was a stray puppy who lived on the streets and spent her days digging through trash for food scraps.

Shelby's trash-to-riches saga began in April 2017, when Megan Buhler, an animal control officer, noticed the then-puppy inside a trash dump in Cheatham County, Tennessee. Buhler gently coaxed the scared pooch out from the landfill and took her to the Cheatham County Animal Shelter.

To find the adorable puppy a permanent home the shelter staff, who nicknamed her Baby Girl, posted her picture on their website. As luck would have it, just 2000 miles away in Hollywood, the makers of A Dog’s Way Home, were in search of a dog just like Baby Girl. The movie, adapted from the book by W. Bruce Cameron, aims to raise awareness of the plight of shelter dogs, specifically pit bulls. Hence, both Cameron and his wife Cathryn Michon, who co-wrote the movie script, were adamant about casting a rescue dog in the starring role.

W. Bruce Cameron, Cathryn Michon (seated), and Megan Buhler with Shelby (Credit: Sony Pictures)

To find the perfect Bella, Debbie Pearl, whose company Paws for Effect prepares shelter dogs for films, asked freelance dog trainer Teresa Ann Miller to conduct a nationwide search. When Miller saw Baby Girl's photo on the shelter's website, she was instantly interested. “It was a really good picture, and she was flat-out smiling,” Miller told The Washington Post. "I mean, it was beautiful." To see if Baby Girl's personality matched her good looks, Miller, Cameron, and Michon made their way to the Cheatham County Animal Shelter. To the dog trainer's sheer delight, Baby Girl passed the personality, temperament, and command response tests with flying colors.

It took Miller just three short months to train Baby Girl, who she renamed Shelby, and transform her into a Hollywood actor. After the film production ended, Shelby found a permanent home with Pearl in Huntington Beach, California. The two-and-a-half-year-old pooch is now gainfully "employed" as a therapy dog for Pearl's non-profit Dream Fetchers and spends her days visiting hospitals, schools, and veteran facilities. According to Pearl, Shelby is just as gifted a therapy dog as she is an actress. The proud owner gushes, “She just has this insight of what she needs to do when she needs to do it. Not all dogs have that.”

Hopefully, Shelby's story will inspire more people to adopt dogs and other pets from rescue shelters. As Bella says in the film, “We all face things that are hard. The only thing that gets us through it are the special people in our lives."

Resources: USAtoday.com, NDTV.com, cheathamcountyexchange.com

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  • funwun
    funwunMonday, December 16, 2019 at 11:10 am
    I have seen this movie!
    • jojofan
      jojofanSunday, December 1, 2019 at 12:48 pm
      This movie looks so good
      • cvmzx
        cvmzxWednesday, November 20, 2019 at 8:52 am
        Im gonging to have to watch that move i think ill like it.
        • lpscollie01
          lpscollie01Tuesday, November 19, 2019 at 3:46 pm
          Awww so cute
          • softball_maegan
            softball_maeganWednesday, November 13, 2019 at 2:38 pm
            This was a good movie my saddest part is when bella almost got ran over and when the big kitten left bella what was your saddest part
            • ryliegh01
              ryliegh01Wednesday, January 15, 2020 at 6:36 am
              My cat loved Big Kitten lol
            • openfordogs
              openfordogsTuesday, November 12, 2019 at 10:45 am
              I agree with Kinston we need those people!
              • KingstonMonday, November 11, 2019 at 7:52 pm
                Bella is right! We do face things that are hard, and the special people In our lives do matter!👍
                • AaliyahSunday, November 10, 2019 at 1:03 pm
                  The movie was so cute!😢😨
                  • Daniel Saturday, November 9, 2019 at 7:59 am
                    I cried watching it, I care so much for dogs, it is an awesome movie
                    • roseFriday, November 8, 2019 at 9:55 am
                      so cute