Blaise, a Golden Retriever, who is making her mark in films and advertising, is a VIP customer at Lloyds Bank in Uckfield.
Nick Smith, the branch manager, who is pictured above with Blaise and her owner, Lesley Thomas, said that the golden retriever is popular with both staff and other customers. She receives a warm welcome when she calls in to top up her account.
Lesley was sad to learn that Blaise wouldn’t be able to have puppies, so decided to find another way to give her a fulfilled life. Little did she know where that would take them.
She started to enter Blaise in obedience shows. Initially, her Kennel Club registered name, Cinderfield Blaise of Glory, was something of an embarrassment, when running off and having a good roll in the ring achieved more mirth than rosettes. However, it was at one of these shows that she was picked up by a ‘talent scout’ and her career began.
So the, then three year old, dog – she’s now five – began to make her mark in the world of film and advertising.
For the last two years Blaise has been the John Lewis dog in their Home Insurance TV advert – you may remember seeing it with the entire contents of a house laid out on the lawn. It was Blaise’s first professional job and she was required to follow a route past a pile of soft toys and a toaster with toast in it, things that would definitely merit investigation and probably some chewing, to a position centre stage and sit, looking at the camera.
“I knew that she had seen the things so I held my breath. I gave her the command from where I stood behind the range of cameras and she trotted out from her position behind a washing machine without a sideways glance. Her whole manner said ‘It’s alright, Mum, I know I’m working.’”
She has also been the ‘cover girl’ on the John Lewis Pet Insurance brochure for the last two years.
After her success as the John Lewis dog, appearing on TV and in the press, Blaise then had a part in a short film, ‘acting’ in sequences on the beach and in fake snow. She even had a ‘stunt double’ – a model dog that could be moved around and repositioned so that Blaise didn’t get tired.
“She was sent her own script so we could practise some things in advance but other things were decided on the day so she had to learn quickly. At one point she had to back away when an old man called her to him – that was really difficult because she’s so friendly and he might have had a treat for her.
“In another scene, on the beach, she had to go away on her own and disappear round a cliff and wait there until I went to collect her – at least a couple of minutes. We filmed that scene at least 20 times,” said Lesley.
“First Blaise went too fast, then she was too slow, then I went to her too quickly and got in the way of the shot. Just when we thought it was just right, the camera wasn’t running. Each time I went to her, I said, ‘That was lovely. Shall we do it again?’ She thought it was such a good game, she just kept on until it really was perfect.”
Blaise has done another short film since then, when she had to be in London by 8am to start filming.
In addition to all this, Blaise is a member of the Southern Golden Retriever Society Display Team and has rubbed shoulders with human celebrities including Martin Clunes and Rachel Riley (Channel 4 Countdown) and has performed at Crufts.
“She is very much a new girl in the team, but we both love it.”
Blaise is one of Lesley’s five dogs living in Halland. Tom, the eldest at 11, is a little black lurcher, then there are three more goldies, all Blaise’s family members; grandma, Barley; mother, Chance; and uncle, Toby.
Blaise and Toby both have fun doing obedience training at Uckfield and District Dog Training Club.
Blaise is gentle, friendly, loves people – especially children – and obviously relishes her working roles. She constantly has an eye on her owner who never fails to praise even the smallest of achievements.
When it came to having her photograph taken for Uckfield News, Blaise had practised putting paws up on the desk and happily held her cheque book in her mouth to pose with Lesley and bank manager, Nick Smith. Initially, Blaise kept moving her head, making it difficult to get a shot until Lesley became aware and calmly said, ‘Wait’. Blaise was instantly still and watched the camera.
Blaise won’t be spending any of her money just yet. She’s saving up for a puppy to join her in her adventures.