11/02/2011 AT 9:00 AM ET
But before she snacked on shoes at the Delgado-Pritchett household, the adorable puppy, whose real name is Brigitte, was abandoned by her adoptive family and returned to her breeder in Tennessee without a place to go. In true Hollywood fashion, she eventually found a home with trainer Guin Dill and Good Dog Animals, an L.A. rental company that auditions animals for roles in motion pictures and television shows.
As Brigitte’s part on ABC’s Emmy-winning comedy continues to grow, here are five things you should know about the little scene-stealer:
1. She landed Modern Family because of her looks.
During a meeting with Dill and some prospective puppies, Modern Family’s producers mentioned that they’d be interested in hiring a French bulldog, but Brigitte was untrained at the time. “I brought her in and she just ran around the office and did puppy stuff. Within 15 minutes of me leaving, they called and said, ‘She’s just too cute, we have to have her,’” Dill tells PEOPLE. “She definitely got cast on her beautiful looks,” which includes her rare combination of white fur and brown spots, known as pied.
2. Ed O’Neill is her BFF.
As Jay’s beloved bulldog, 1½-year-old Brigitte films most of her scenes with O’Neill, and the pair’s on-screen relationship has translated into a similar one off screen. “He and Brigitte love each other,” Dill says. “He is very concerned about her all the time, and he looks out for her. She’s really Ed’s dog. I couldn’t have asked for a better actor to work with.”
3. She’s not as troublesome as Stella.
While the Modern Family mutt can be a handful, the actress who plays her is no diva, with Dill describing Brigitte as “sweet as pie.” “She is a total typical Frenchie,” she continues. “She loves her toys, she loves to play tug, she sleeps in the bed. And the great thing is she doesn’t snore.” Brigitte also has no problem playing nice: When Dill adopted another French bulldog to serve as her double, Brigitte took to her like a mother figure. “She’s so great with her,” Dill says. “She’s a very good, social girl.”
4. She learns fast.
Having come to the set with no formal training, Brigitte amped up her acting chops during the hiatus between seasons two and three of Modern Family. Dill says of one upcoming scene, “She was on a chair, and she has to leave with Jay. Ty [Burrell] was doing his lines and every time he did his line, she would have to exit. I would have to call her the first time, but then after that, she started to realize, ‘After that guy says this line, it’s time for me to go.’ She starts to pick up on her own cue and realizes what’s going on.”
5. She’s got skills.
Chowing down on shoes and jumping on counters is just the tip of the iceberg when it comes to Brigitte’s skill set, which grew over the summer to include swimming. “She likes it, but Frenchies don’t swim really well, so this is something we’re working out right now,” Dill says, adding that whenever Brigitte learns a new trick, she lets the Modern Family writers know so that it can be written into scripts. “Like her jumping, that was something we had to teach her on the fly, and now she loves to do it.”
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