May 16, 2015 - 5:02 AM
TORONTO - When David Letterman signs off for good next week, his legacy will include a long list of memorable Canadian guests —including some of the four-legged variety.
Several Canuck pooches made audiences howl during Letterman's Stupid Pet Tricks segments.
The decades-old feature showcased the host's love of animals and included everything from a bowling hamster to a poodle playing piano and a Jack Russell riding a miniature horse.
In the case of Lexi, a Calgary rescue dog who's believed to be a border collie/lab cross, it was her ability to climb a ladder that got her on the show on Nov. 18, 2014.
Owner Chris Jansen says Lexi, who's now about seven, started learning tricks after he got her from the Calgary Humane Society in April 2009.
The black pooch was noticed by Letterman's producers when he and his wife put videos of her performing tricks on YouTube.
Before Lexi did her trick during the show's taping, Letterman chatted with Jansen about being from Calgary and joked: "I worked for four years in a row at the Stampede as a pickup rider."
Lexi then climbed to the top of a ladder and jumped into Jansen's arms.
Letterman held the ladder steady while Lexi jumped, exclaiming at the end: "What a dog!"
"It was probably one of the happiest days I've ever had with my dog, just to be there with her," says Jansen, a fulfillment planner with FGL Sports Ltd.
Sara Carson of North Bay, Ont., appeared with her "super" border collie named Hero on Nov. 13, 2012.
Hero had Letterman in stitches by barking into a soap-soaked wand to produce bubbles.
Carson, a 20-year-old stunt dog trainer, says she taught the trick to Hero and emailed videotaped footage of it to Letterman's producers. Six months later they responded.
Carson appeared on the show with the now-three-year-old black and white pooch, who came from a farm in Peterborough, Ont.
Before Hero did his trick, Letterman bent down to pet him and cooed in the baby voice he often used with dogs on the segment: "Hello, sweetie, ohhh, what a sweetie."
Hero responded with a lick on the side of Letterman's face.
"If he could, he probably would've taken (Hero) home," says Carson. "He really, really liked him."
Other Canuck pooches who've impressed Letterman over the years include Chi Chi, a dog from Windsor, Ont., who appeared on "Late Night." Chi Chi pushed a kiddie shopping cart and tipped cans of beer into it from a nearby table with his paw.
Neither Carson nor Jansen got to speak with Letterman before or after their appearances, but both say he was warm and made them feel comfortable onstage.
They also got to meet some of the guests who were on their respective episodes.
Jansen says he met members of the band Hiss Golden Messenger and Carson got to meet "The Good Wife" star Julianna Margulies.
After the show, Carson was stopped by audience members who wanted to snap photos with Hero outside the theatre.
Their fame continued when they returned home; they were offered a spot in a touring theatre show with Stunt Dog Productions in Missouri.
Jansen says Stupid Pet Tricks was a great forum for rescue dogs to show their worth.
And Carson thinks the segment brought in a "broader audience for Letterman" and encouraged dog owners to spend more time with their pooches.
"It's sad," she says of Letterman's retirement. "I would've liked to go back. I actually taught Hero a couple of new, unique tricks."
News from © The Canadian Press, 2015