Preston Casanova is proof positive that stature has nothing to do with celebrity status. The diminutive white Pomeranian won the title of “America’s most popular dog” on the hit show Greatest American Dog, after viewers voted for him over the other nine contestants in the competition. Since then, the adorable and intelligent canine has appeared on many commercials and TV shows, including Access Hollywood and TMZ. His sweet face and happy-golucky personality have delighted fans across the globe and inspired thousands worldwide.
The lucky Pomeranian shares his life with Laura Nativo, a successful actor, model and producer who’s also actively involved in issues ranging from the environment to cancer research.
The two make a brilliant team. And while they’re enjoying success now, both had challenges at the beginning of their careers. Though Laura made her TV debut when she was only five, appearing on the popular children’s program Romper Room, the death of her mother from breast cancer a year later cast a shadow on the child actor’s life. With her father working to support the family, Laura shouldered the responsibility of raising herself and her younger sister. Though she loved animals and would have benefited from the comfort of a canine friend, Laura had to wait until she was grown up to fulfill that dream. “I wanted a dog when I was a little girl, but was never allowed one,” she says. “My dad was very strict. He didn’t understand the power of the human-animal connection.”
Despite all this, Laura never lost sight of her passion for acting,and for animals. After being discovered by Woody Allen and appearing in his 1998 film Celebrity, there was no looking back career-wise. She went on to act in a number of movies, including Threshold and Alpha Dog, and has also worked as a movie and music video producer. Most recently, she and Preston starred in the hit CBS series Greatest American Dog.
Preston is a purebred Pom, but was the runt of the litter. As tiny as he was, Laura says she fell in love with him from the first moment she saw him in 2002. “His sweet, baby seal face melted my heart, and I was more afraid of what might happen to him if I didn’t adopt him. It was the best decision I’ve ever made… we’ve been inseparable ever since.”
Like Laura, Preston has always been a natural in front of the camera. He loved performing and with Laura’s help soon became a professional canine actor and model. Brainy as well as beautiful, Preston understands around 100 human words in English and Spanish, and has even learned to surf and skateboard, much to the delight and astonishment of his fans.
“Preston loves attention, and to him, performing is playing,” Laura adds. He is a very driven, confident, playful dog, which makes him extraordinarily trainable with on-set behaviors. When people speak to him, he looks into their eyes as if he genuinely understands what they’re saying. On screen, that’s magical.”
Laura adds that Greatest American Dog was Preston’s big break. “It was also perhaps one of my most life changing experiences. The show aired on almost every continent, and millions of people falling in love with Preston really gave us a gift, to use our exposure for good and give back to animals everywhere.” Working conditions on the set were demanding, but Laura never failed to keep Preston’s best interests in mind. When the little dog fell ill with salmonella, Laura decided to withdraw from the competition. “It got to a point where the conditions were simply too much for him, and I knew it was time to go home.”
Even though they didn’t win, Laura says being on the show opened a lot of doors for her and Preston. “Thanks to him and that experience, my career has shifted in a new direction,” she explains. “I’m now a member of the Association of Pet Dog Trainers, and my life is dedicated to helping dogs and their humans live happier, healthier lives together. I’m intensely passionate about the importance of positive, everyday, common sense training, finding a way to connect with your dog and make training fun. I’m even more focused on getting into the political realm for dogs, hoping to make the world a more dog-friendly place.”
Along with their busy acting careers, the dynamic duo is involved in a number of organizations that benefit animals, the environment, cancer research and other causes. “Nowadays, green is the new black,” Laura says. “It seems as if every company is trying to feed us a more ‘eco-friendly’ lifestyle. But going green isn’t just about using environmentally friendly poop bags, it’s about the simple everyday choices we make. Part of my green approach includes partnering with companies that share my eco-friendly beliefs. Many of Preston’s things are made of recycled materials. His favorite collar is totally re-purposed from a vintage belt. His toybox is a beautiful wooden reused gem from the Goodwill. And his bed is made of recycled soda bottles. I’m far from perfect, but I try to ‘think green’ with everything we do.”
Preston is also a certified therapy dog and “founder” of Preston’s Planet, (prestonsplanet.com) an online Internet show with a blog and live interactive TV dedicated to creating a better, happier and greener world for dogs. He also has his own website, prestoncasanova.com, where fans can keep up with his latest adventures.
When Laura first laid eyes on that tiny white puppy seven years ago, she never dreamed Preston would become her professional partner and a star in his own right, as well as her best friend. “It’s been an incredible ride!” she marvels. “As long as he enjoys the spotlight, I’ll do everything I can to support him. He’s the love of my life.”