A Famous Dog's Life: How One Woman Helped Turn a Chihuahaua Into a Star

A Famous Dog's Life: How One Woman Helped Turn a Chihuahaua Into a Star

05/03/2011 AT 07:45 AM EDT

They're four of the most famous words of the '90s – "Yo quiero Taco Bell" –and they were uttered by a Chihuahua. A Chihuahua named Gidget, to be exact.

This 12-lb. pooch didn't just sell tacos, though. She had a prolific career in TV and movies, and met Hollywood's biggest stars (Brad Pitt, anyone?).

Gidget's trainer, Sue Chipperton (along with PEOPLE staffer Rennie Dyball) has written a book about her days with Gidget, Gidget's friend Moonie (who starred in Legally Blonde) and other Hollywood dogs. A Famous Dog's Life, out in stores today, chronicles Chipperton's experience working with her famous pups – and their famous co-stars. PEOPLEPets.com has an excerpt from the book, featured below. It isn't about Gidget or Moonie, but about Chipperton's encounter with a different diva – one by the name of Jennifer Lopez.



I had been hired to assist a couple of other trainers from another animal company for one week on the set of Monster-in-Law, starring Jennifer Lopez and Jane Fonda. We were shooting a beach scene where Jennifer is walking a few dogs, and she has to fall and get tangled up in the leashes ...

The scene started off well, with the dogs behaving themselves and Jennifer doing her staged trip-and-fall in the sand. But then, as she flailed around, one of the dog's leashes stretched tightly across her neck as she thrashed her arms. The leash seemed to get tighter under her chin as she let out a gulping sound that sounded more like reality than comedy to me.

"Help!" she shouted in a raspy voice to no one in particular. "Helllp! Help me!"

I looked around at the other trainers but no one budged. Why wasn't anyone helping her? I gave it another couple of seconds before deciding that this couldn't possibly be part of the scene – these dogs were inadvertently choking Jennifer Lopez!

I dropped the water bottle I had been holding and unabashedly threw myself in the sand and ripped the leash off her neck before grabbing the dogs by their collars. Crunching on grains of sand between my teeth, I stood up and brushed myself off.

"Cut!" called the director while choking back a laugh, and Jennifer stood to face me.

"Oh, honey," she said with a kind smile as she touched my arm. "I was acting." Half-embarrassed, half-annoyed, I briskly wiped my hands on my jeans.

"Well, we need to come up with a safe word then, because help isn't going to help you if you're really in trouble!"

Printed with permission from NAL, a division of Penguin Group.

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