2012-10-26 / Front Page

‘Regal doofus’ to star in Animal Planet show

By Jack Flagler
Staff Writer

Joy Zanghi and Tom enjoy a summer afternoon on Saddleback Mounain in Rangely. Tom and a litter of his Chinook puppies will be featured on Animal Planet’s series “Too Cute” Saturday, Oct. 27 at 8 p.m. (Courtesy photo) Joy Zanghi and Tom enjoy a summer afternoon on Saddleback Mounain in Rangely. Tom and a litter of his Chinook puppies will be featured on Animal Planet’s series “Too Cute” Saturday, Oct. 27 at 8 p.m. (Courtesy photo) SOUTH PORTLAND – Joy Zanghi has nicknamed her dog Tom “the regal doofus.”

“He looks like that,” said Joy, an eighth-grader at Mahoney Middle School, as she points out his noble look, “but he’s also not the smartest animal.”

Soon, Tom may become a famous regal doofus. He will be featured on the Saturday, Oct. 27 episode of “Too Cute,” a weekly series on the cable TV network Animal Planet.

Tom came to the Zanghis from breeders Jessica Maurer and Panthea Burns, who run Great Mountain Chinooks from their farm in Lewiston. Another dog from Great Mountain, Tikaani, found a new home in New Jersey after leaving Maine.

Tikaani and Tom had a litter of five puppies this summer. Animal Planet decided to visit Tikaani and the puppies at Bashaba Chinooks in New Jersey in July, so Joy and her father, Marty Zanghi, made the seven-hour drive to reunite Tom with Tikaani and his puppies.

It’s easy to see how Tom has earned his nickname. He is a 4-year-old Chinook Joy and Marty have owned since he was a puppy. As Joy and Marty sit at the backyard picnic table talking, Tom hops up to see what’s going on.

Then, it’s onto Joy’s lap as he plasters her face with a rapid sequence of licks. He sits for a few seconds. Then back up to her lap as he gazes off into the distance and strikes a kingly pose, most likely listening for sounds of movement from the family cat, perched on the other side of the fence.

“(Chinooks) are very, very friendly dogs,” adds Marty, “They think they’re lap dogs.”

Joy said Animal Planet crews spent the first day of filming capturing the action from Tom, Takaani and the puppies with slow motion cameras.

“Too Cute” focuses on a different puppy breed in each episode, and changes each show slightly, depending on the breed it is shooting. Since Chinooks are sled dogs, the second day of shooting involved the puppies trying to carry a small wagon of food to their parents. That wasn’t as easy as it might sound.

“When puppies try to pull food they obviously want to eat the food,” Joy said.

“All I can tell you is, there must be an amazing amount of editing that goes in,” Marty said of the shoot. “Because for an hour or almost 90 minutes, they had the puppies pulling this little wagon with food in it.”

Tom enjoys walks and plenty of exercise in the Zanghis’ yard in South Portland during summer and fall. But when snow starts to fall, the family will take him to his previous home in Lewiston, where Maurer and Burns have acres of land and trails for dog sledding.

Tom and another dog pull a sled with Joy in tow, following another team of Chinooks through the system of trails.

Chinooks have a long history of outdoor work. The original member of the breed, a dog from Greenland of husky and mastiff parentage, was named Chinook, and belonged to Arthur Walden of New Hampshire.

Walden volunteered with Admiral Richard Byrd’s scientific expedition of Antartica in 1927. Chinook, along with 15 of his sons and about 100 other dogs, transported materials across the frozen landscape. The Chinook is now the official state dog of New Hampshire.

Currently, there are only about 1,400 Chinooks left, mostly in the New England region. The breed nearly died out entirely in the middle of the 20th century, but a concerted effort by a number of breeders has brought their numbers back up again.

Marty said Tom will father more litters in the future, as Great Mountain Chinooks continue to find new homes for Chinook puppies in Maine and around the country.

With more puppies to come, maybe this isn’t the end of the road in show business for the regal doofus.

For more information on Chinook adoption, visit greatmountainchinooks.com. To see clips and episodes from “Too Cute,” visit animal.discover.com/tv-shows/toocute/.

Watch it

See Tom Saturday, Oct. 27 on the Animal Planet show “Too Cute.”

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