JACKSON CENTER — One of the stars in Jackson Center Local School’s spring musical brings something a little different to the show compared to the rest of the cast: namely, four paws and a tail.
Hiro Valor Dvor, a canine officer in the Jackson Center Police Department, has been hard at work over the last two weeks learning the part of Sandy in Jackson Center Local School’s production of “Annie.” Police Chief Chuck Wirick says that the experience has been a rewarding one for Hiro and that he has enjoyed rehearsing and working with the students participating in the musical.
“He’s done great with everything and is working great with the children,” Wirick said on behalf of Hiro.
Part of learning his role as Sandy includes working closely with Annie, played by Kiele Suttles. Because Hiro is used to receiving rewards for doing his job and following orders, Suttles has treats on hand to give Hiro in case of any hiccups.
“You may see him gnawing down on something on stage,” Wirick said. “If he gets out there and does a great job, she may give him something.”
Acting on stage isn’t too different from the work Hiro does with the police department day-to-day; a lot of it falls back on his obedience training, which Wirick said is “phenomenal.”
“He’s always been really good with anybody he comes in contact with. If he came up to you and you asked him to sit, most likely, he’s going to do that for you,” Wirick said. “He’s always going to take love that anybody is going to give to him. He’s a big-hearted dog.”
The opportunity for Hiro to join the cast of “Annie” came when Wirick received a phone call from Jackson Center Local Schools asking if that was something Hiro and the department would be interested in. The answer was a resounding yes.
“It’s been great for him, that he’s been able to get out there with the students, and I don’t have to worry about him. He’s so soft-hearted and all of the cast comes up to him when he gets there and pets him, and he does great with everyone,” Wirick said.
When Hiro isn’t on stage as Sandy, he’ll take breaks between scenes back stage with the rest of the cast. After his second scene in the first act, Wirick takes him out to a truck so he can have alone time, calm down, and get in the right headspace for his final scene in the second act of the show. While this is the first time Hiro and the Jackson Center Police Department have worked with students in a show, it’s something that they’d love to do again.
“We work very closely with the school, we’ve gone in there and done teachings, and talked to the students during Halloween about stranger danger, but we’ve never done anything like this. It’s been a great opportunity, and I would love to be a part of it again someday, if the opportunity ever arose,” Wirick said.
“Annie” will be performed on Thursday, March 5, and Saturday, March 7, at 7 p.m. and Sunday, March 8, at 2 p.m. in the cafetorium of Jackson Center Local Schools.