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TROIKA
Chris Large  /  AP file
Alaskan malamute Troika was found by a visiting animal trainer in a Knoxville, Tenn., animal shelter, and eventually won the role of Shadow, one of the canine stars in "Eight Below."
updated 2/14/2006 3:54:08 PM ET 2006-02-14T20:54:08

From stray to star, Hollywood’s latest success story began on the streets of Knoxville.

The Alaskan malamute named Troika “was pretty hungry, pretty skinny and in pretty rough shape when he was brought here,” Tim Adams, executive director of the publicly-funded Young-Williams Animal Center, told the Knoxville News Sentinel.

Some TLC brought him back to health, and then came his big break. He caught the attention of Hollywood trainer Mike Alexander, who was in Tennessee on a casting call for the new Disney film “Eight Below,” about eight sled dogs abandoned in Antarctica when bad weather strikes.

“He was looking for a dog who would pay attention to him, who was very responsive and he thought that they could train,” said Sidney Sachs, president of Sleddog Rescue of Tennessee.

Troika fit the bill and won the role of Shadow. The film opens nationally on Friday.

At a sneak preview, Sachs couldn’t contain himself. “I kept standing up and yelling, ’That’s my dog!’ People around me were going, ’Get that nut out of here.”’

Troika and another rescued malamute chosen as a stand-in for the film, a female named Nikki saved from a puppy mill in Chattanooga, Tenn., are now living with a trainer and auditioning for other roles.

© 2012 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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