September 11, 2015 | Posted in Famous TV & Movie Dogs
When actor James Best signed on to play Sheriff Roscoe P. Coltrane on the popular 1980s television show “The Dukes of Hazzard”, he hoped his character would be given a girlfriend. When that didn’t happen, he asked to have a dog written in as his companion. In fact, he supposedly threatened to quit the show if a dog was not written in.
Show executives didn’t want to pay the $500 fee for a dog trainer. Best told them “The dog will become one of the biggest stars of the show; let me get a dog.” He paid one-half interest to the trainer Alvin Mears for a 60-pound Bassett Hound named Sandy, who was found at a Los Angeles-area shelter. His reasoning was that then he could bargain with the show executives because Sandy was “his” dog and therefore deserved more money since he was one of the stars of the show. They said yes and Sandy and his trainer were hired, for a better salary.
Sandy was seven years old and had been scheduled for euthanization when she was rescued. She was re-named Flash, for the show, and debuted in the third episode. At first, Flash was referred to as a “he” for some reason, but eventually, writers decided upon rightfully calling her a “she”.
Best, quite the animal lover, fixed up a private dressing room for Sandy/Flash. “She was adorable and very smart,” he said of his co-star. “She would do anything for a wienie.” (Hot dogs and chicken bits were the rewards she was given for performing during the show).
The actor was right – Flash became a very popular part of the cast. Audiences loved the so-called “attack dog” who was actually lazy and rarely moved. In a song about Flash (prior to the dog’s character being labeled a female), lyrics say, “In a one-dog race, he’d come in last.”
Several Bassett hounds were used during filming, to fill in for Sandy/Flash, including a life-sized replica of the dog for use during dangerous scenes. This imitation dog was jokingly referred to by cast and crew as “Flush.”
The American Kennel Club released a list of the Top 125 dogs in popular culture some years after the show went off the air, and Flash ranked number 14, even beating little Toto from “The Wizard of Oz.”
Sandy passed away in 1989 at 14 years old, considered by many to be a ripe old age for her breed.