Fridge fetch – South county dog’s open-shut trick earns spot on national TV
Marilyn Chapman admits she comes from a long line of eccentrics, which may explain why she wants her pooch to bring her a six-pack of brew from the fridge.
Mya the dog can already open the refrigerator door, get a meat scrap and close it. That’s no problem. But Chapman, 49, a former professional dog trainer and groomer, is always looking for new tricks for her pit bull-looking American Staffordshire.
The refrigerator trick has landed Mya a spot on “America’s Funniest Home Videos,” which will air on an undetermined date in the near future. During the video, Chapman admonishes Mya for keeping food scraps behind closed doors.
But it is those scraps that explain why Chapman has been able to teach animals tricks since she was 3, which along the way produced a skateboarding cat.
Every week, Chapman buys a tri-tip, beef ribs and liver, which she turns into treats for her animals.
“That’s how I get these dogs to respond so well and do anything you want,” Chapman said in her south Nevada County home. “Dogs run on their nerves and if you feed them well, they do well in the ring.”
Chapman and her mother showed dogs for years when they lived in the Bay Area, and Chapman trained John Baez’s hound. She began to notice idiosyncrasies in the dogs and she swears her mother had one that smiled.
“I knew then they were capable of more than being a family pet,” Chapman said. “You have to bring out the personality of the dog.”
Along with the food, Chapman said she uses kindness and firmness to teach the dogs tricks.
It took a full day to teach Mya the refrigerator trick and convince the dog that she had strength in her legs to do it.
“I had to show her over and over again how to open the door and keep going until she’s learned the trick.”
Apparently it worked, because Mya can now open all the doors in the house.
One of Chapman’s other dogs, Marcelus, is a full-bore American Pit Bull who she also videotaped for the show, jumping for treats. Marcelus “thinks his name is ‘Gorgeous,'” because that’s what people call him in public.
Indeed, the dog answers to “Gorgeous,” although it looks capable of removing your arm with one bite. If this dog played football, they would call it “Butkus,” but his best sport is basketball, and yes, he can dribble.
Pit bulls often get a bad rap, Chapman said, but they have to be taught to be mean.
“These dogs are powerful,” Chapman said, “but they’re often mishandled. These dogs have to have socialization. They want other people to touch them; that’s important to pit bulls. You can train them to be good.”
Chapman continues to raise the bar for her dogs and hopes Mya can come through for the next Super Bowl.
“What I would like her to do is grab a six-pack and bring it to me for half-time,” Chapman said.
Support Local Journalism
Support Local Journalism
Readers around Grass Valley and Nevada County make The Union’s work possible. Your financial contribution supports our efforts to deliver quality, locally relevant journalism.
Now more than ever, your support is critical to help us keep our community informed about the evolving coronavirus pandemic and the impact it is having locally. Every contribution, however large or small, will make a difference.
Your donation will help us continue to cover COVID-19 and our other vital local news.
Start a dialogue, stay on topic and be civil.
If you don't follow the rules, your comment may be deleted.
User Legend: Moderator Trusted User