OkcPets Magazine March 2023

March / April 2023 • OKC Pets 9 THE IDEAL DOG Oklahoma Canine Launches Acting Career in Tulsa King by David Gallant | Photos courtesy of Brenda Walker I t was an economic boon for the state when the announcement came that the TV series Tulsa King would be filmed in Oklahoma. For most of 2021, the intention had been to film the series in Kansas. But thanks to the steadfast vision of Oklahoma Lieutenant Gover- nor Matt Pinnell (who is also the state’s first secretary of tourism and branding) and his staff, those plans changed. The series — about a New York Mafia capo who is released from prison and whose boss exiles him to Tulsa to set up shop — is being filmed throughout the state, mostly in the Tulsa metro and Oklahoma City metro areas. Shortly after the filming location was announced in February 2022, a statewide call went out to find a German Shepherd dog (GSD) to be in the series. The dog needed to be good-natured and cool-headed and have the stamina to endure long working hours and loud noises and put up with petting from strangers. In addition, the dog must learn to come when called by strangers, to track a scent, to bark when told, and to squat and pretend to poop on command. Finding Kuna In early March 2022, Pamela Banks and Reride Smith of Reride Animal Talent visited Oklahoma to find a suitable dog for the series. They stopped by a dog wash in Edmond where Autumn Goforth, with Go Forth K9, was bathing her dogs. Banks commented on “how well-behaved the dogs were,” then mentioned that “she helped put dogs in movies” and described the type of dog she and Smith sought. After talking about dogs, Oklahoma, and the TV series, they exchanged contact information with Goforth. Afterward, Goforth contacted her friend Brenda Walker, a breeder and trainer of GSDs who lives in Edmond. Goforth told Walker about the meeting and gave her Banks’ contact information. Walker breeds German Shepherds that have “a loving temperament and are friendly to everyone they meet.” Several of her dogs have become service, therapy, and emotional support dogs. One outstanding trait of her dogs is that they are “versatile and happy being working dogs or being at home with their humans.” The next day, Walker sent pictures of her German Shepherds to Banks, including a photo of Kuna, a five-year-old female. After seeing the images, Banks and another animal wrangler planned to meet Walker and her dogs. Walker didn’t know hundreds of other GSD photos had been submitted, but the director of the show was interested in Kuna. The weather was excellent when Smith and Banks came to screen-test Kuna. Walker had Smith show Kuna a piece of chicken jerky and call her from a distance. Of course, Kuna was happy to come running; she loves chicken jerky. After several more successful tests, including lots of hugs and playtime, Kuna received the part in the TV series. Filming with Kuna would begin in April 2022. As a bonus, Walker would be Kuna’s trainer and ani- mal wrangler on set. Kuna Starts Her TV Job It was a chilly day in April when filming for Kuna’s big day arrived. Walker packed up Kuna and drove to a house in Oklahoma City near West Britton Road and North May Avenue in the Vil- lage, where scenes for the second episode of Tulsa King were being filmed. Walker and Kuna met Brian Shoop, who plays the part of dog owner Larry (he has no last name in the series and appears in only two episodes). His dog, played by Kuna, has a habit of pooping in a neighbor’s yard. In episode two, we see Kuna running from the yard of Armand (Manny) Truisi, played by Max Casella. Truisi sees a pile of dog poop and complains to Larry. Larry’s response is, “How do you know it’s my dog?” To prepare for that scene, Kuna and Lar- ry play ball, cuddle, and chase each other in the yard. Then Walker takes Kuna to Truisi’s yard while Larry plays with the ball. “Kuna loves to play ball” and works herself into a tizzy trying to get to the ball — then Walker releases her to go back across the street. Between scenes of Tulsa King, Kuna shares a bonding moment with Brian Shoop, who portrays her owner, Larry, in the TV series.