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Bill & Star Interview

For all the Bill & Star fans out there who have been wondering what they've been up to I've got the latest scoop. They've been...

Horst Hoefinger  |  Dec 1st 2008


For all the Bill & Star fans out there who have been wondering what they’ve been up to I’ve got the latest scoop.

They’ve been traveling around making people happy. Bill and Star travel the country visiting schools, civic groups, and retirement homes bringing smiles to all those who meet them.

Below Bill answers the questions that you, his fans, submitted to him. Dogster really appreciates him taking time from his busy schedule to answer them.

Rachel and the pack: How has your wife been doing? Have you gained any fame after leaving the show? Do people recognize you?

Bill: My wife is doing fine. When I got back from California we bought an insulin pump that has made her diabetes so much easier to maintain.

People do recognize us, especially when I wear those orange shirts. It really thrills me to see kids when they realize that the dog they are petting is Star from TV, I get a bigger thrill than anyone.

Oh yes, we are now famous at our local Coffee Cafe in Flint. I get my coffee free there, now that’s famous.

Cynthia: Do you keep in touch with JD?

Bill: J D and I became good friends on the show, he taught me so much about Frisbee stunts. I talk to him several times a month. He has set up some practice sessions for me with some world champion Frisbee folks so that I can learn to teach Lucille my border collie. He is a really great nice guy. I hope that each of you have the chance to see what he does with 11 dogs at one time. He is amazing!!!!

Cody boxer: Who was the most fun to bunk with on the show? Did you go back home to your same routine or has it changed since being on the show?

Bill: Most fun to bunk with was Ron and Tillman, funny funny funny!!! Ron and I would talk over morning coffee about the show or just things, I talk or email with Ron often.

When I got home it was a Monday at 8 a.m., our plane was delayed in Los Angeles so we were really late getting home. I slept most of the day while Star dug up most of the backyard and Tuesday I went back to work at my regular job. My routine went back to the way it was before I left for California. In fact I did not get a day off for about 41 days.

Kenyon’s Mom: Being that Star is a dog, albeit a good dog, she has to be naughty sometimes. What has Star done that was naughty? And does she have any lovable little quirky habits that make you laugh?

Bill: Oh yes, Star has some goofiness that just makes me laugh right along with everyone else. When she knows it is dinner time Star brings her food bowl and stands there in front of me, I have to laugh at that.

And naughtiness, that’s easy, I like to go to Subway and eat lunch when I can. If the pups are with me I get them a sugar cookie. I wrap it in a napkin and usually place on dash of my truck. If I am not watching Star will grab the cookie and eat it before I can get it back. If she eats the whole cookie I have to go back and purchase another cookie for the other two pups. The Subway folks need to have Star promoting their cookies.

Charli: The judges on the show seemed to be rather inconsistent with their expectations, at least to us viewers. On one show, you were criticized for pushing Star to keep competing in the challenge and the very next show, you were voted out after stopping when you knew Star had had enough. Did you or the other contestants feel that the judges were inconsistent?

What made you decide to try out for the competition and would you have done it if you’d known beforehand that you’d have to be away from home without contact for so long?

Bill: That is a question that I cannot answer fully due to contractual restrictions. I thought it was based on the ‘bond’ between the handler and the dog, but what do I know? I’m just a fat bald old guy that likes playing with dogs.

You bring up something that all dog trainers know, being consistent is the key to training.

A lady here in my area actually sent me an email about the show along with the application. Star and I had done Barney the purple Dino so I thought this would be fun to try out. When we got our ticket to audition in California I took it as a vacation as I had not had a vacation in about 13-14 years. I thought this would be a great time I could spend with Star and relax.

I talked to my wife Sherrie about the time away. She was the one that really gave us the ‘push’ to go on a once in a lifetime adventure. We have been married 37 years and never been apart more than 4-5 days at most, so we knew it was going to be hard.

When I got back I had to reintroduce Star back into the pack. We spent about 30-45 minutes in the front yard letting the other two pups figure things out. Star was excited to be home, I had no rules for her for several weeks, I let her be a dog and just play.

Susan: Has Star learned any new tricks since being on GAD? What have you learned from your appearance on GAD? Have you applied this to life after the show?

Bill: Star has learned some new tricks. JD has a trick that Galaxy jumps on his back, now Star does that. I also had time to teach some tricks that I had in my head but just never had time to do at home. One that we showed in our audition at CBS Star learned the night before in about 5-10 minutes, I felt very confident about it so I showed it. She will pick up a dime and place it in a cup, since the show I now have her placing the dime in a bottle. Cool trick, but it was difficult for me to figure how to start and to get her to place the dime into a container.

I learned something that my wife told me, “Enjoy the ride.” I had been working so hard and trying like everyone to keep the boat afloat, I had forgotten to enjoy the ride. Now when we do the performance with Star, Maggie, and Lucille I sometimes step back and just soak up what is happening and how much fun this is.

Nina: Did you think some of the challenges were dangerous? My mommy says she wouldn’t have let me anywhere near that elephant..what did you think, were you worried for Star?

Bill: That elephant did not worry me at all. I knew Star could out run it and I knew elephants don’t eat fat bald guys. Star has been around cows, and farm animals all her life, I just figured that she would think it was a goofy looking big ( no, huge) cow with a funny thing hanging out of its face. She did fine, she never barked at Susie, only walked around it using that bird dog nose to try to understand what it was.

On a positive note, I may get in trouble with CBS about this, but later that day we were allowed to go out and let our dogs meet the elephant. Star and I walked around Susie in circles till I saw Star was not interested in the elephant. I then walked up to Susie and Star lay down in the shade of her with no fear at all. So the fact is, if there is ever a pack of elephants that run down the road here in Flint, Texas I know that Star will just sit there and look at them. She has been proofed on elephants!!!

Oreo:What was it like meeting so many dogs?

Bill: Star has never been social with other dogs. She just leaves them alone, that is the bird dog in her. But living with so many and being able to play daily has made her more tolerant of dogs that run into her face, something most older dogs don’t like. Especially when puppies do that, older dogs will set the pups in there place.

Jennifer: In the previews before GAD it showed Star going down the zip line but in the challenge it was made to look like she refused to go down. Can you explain what really happened with that challenge?

Bill: Sorry Jennifer, due to a contractual agreement with CBS I can’t answer that question at this time.

Jane:Other than being away from your home, what was the hardest part of being on the show?

Bill: My wife has been a diabetic for 30 years, we took this on together. I have never missed an appointment with the diabetic doctor, not once. Over the years Sherrie has developed some eye problems. During the week that I was so emotional was the time that Sherrie was having surgery on her eyes to keep her sight. I knew this and told no one, when I received the phone call I asked her “how is sugar?” This was a code that we had worked out, when she said “my sugar is fine” I knew that her sight and the surgery was successful.

Erika: Did you resent being kicked off the show because Star was tired? I thought she did an amazing job trying to impress you, but older dogs sometimes just don’t like pups. Is that how you feel?

Bill: No, I never resented being expelled from the show. What an amazing adventure we were on, and my orange dog and I had so much fun. The friends we made in front and behind the cameras was more than we could have dreamed. What made me the proudest was that my orange dog made so many people smile, and she is still doing that.

Arwen and Amadeus: Was it harder for your wife Sherrie to monitor her blood sugar while Star was gone on the show? Do you have Star’s painting and professional photo from GAD somewhere in your house?

Bill: Sherrie monitors her sugar like all diabetics I assume, by a prick of the finger and testing the blood. Then giving a shot of insulin to bring the sugar into a normal range. Too many highs and lows are not good. The pump that we purchased after I came home has really helped Sherrie’s sugar to become more stable and changed her life.

The pump is what I would call a “drip U lator” meaning it dispenses insulin all the time, You can set it up for the desired amount of units you need per day. The pump is hooked to you 24 -7 and you have to change the injection site every three days. If you have a high at 3 am till 6 am every night you are able to set the pump to dispense more insulin during that time only. If you have a family member that has not looked into the pump have them check with a professional. Sherrie and I have been so pleased with this, I just wish I could hug that person that developed the pump. It has changed Sherrie’s life!!!!

The painting and pictures were property of CBS, we were not allowed to have any of that.

Roxy, Duke And Sheila: Like we told you when we became pals, our mommy has diabetes also. We were just wondering since you are famous now, if you would use your fame for diabetes awareness? We were thinking it would be wonderful if you walked one of the JDRF walks for a cure events, or maybe volunteered at a summer camp for kids with diabetes like Camp Conrad-Chinnock. It’s in southern California, and is great.

Bill: We do talk about the pump and about diabetes at civic groups and some in our performances. I would love to be involved with the work of the American Diabetes Association. No group has ever approached us about a camp but we would be more than happy to be there.

Jett: Now that you have left canine academy, are you more confident with Star? Did this make you prove that your dog can do all of the challenges?

Bill: I have taught many agility classes at one of the local dog training clubs. I have worked with the obedience people there and we do the silly pet tricks for fun. After I was on the show I realized that I am a pretty good dog trainer. I have never charged a dime for any help that I have given anyone.

Star helped me so much, as she is so soft and I can not be harsh with her or she will shut down. In the classes that I have taught I always try to be upbeat and excited, this will cause the people to be excited about training.

Star, Maggie, and Lucille all have different things they are great at. I am lucky to understand that they hold the key and I just have to find the right door for that key. Meaning, Star loves people and tricks, Lucille loves agility and Frisbee, and Maggie loves to herd sheep and cows. In school some kids were good in sports, some in English, and some in math. It’s the same with dogs, some are better at different things just like kids, and finding that door is an amazing adventure.

Valerie: What were the first things you ever taught Star? Did you come away learning anything from the other contestants?

Bill: The first trick that I ever taught Star was to hold a treat on her nose. We all have done that, and at 10-12 weeks I thought that was so cool. Since then Star has moved on to some really neat tricks. JD, Teresa, and Laura all had a cool trick or two. JD taught me the most with the Frisbee stuff and I tried to soak it up, Teresa showed us some cool stuff, and Laura taught us how great little dogs are.

Daisy and Cleopatra: What have been the biggest changes since the show? Do you keep in touch with anyone from the show?

Bill: The biggest change since the show is keeping up with the many emails we get on our website.

We do keep in touch with everyone by phone or email. I have said this before, everyone of those folks on the show are invited to my house for Thanksgiving or Christmas, and I mean that. I enjoyed my time with the other contestants, we all had something in common… the love for our dogs.

Barb: It seemed that the judges placed a lot of weight on the dog who showed the most growth throughout the competition. Naturally a younger dog would have the better chance of winning. Were you and the other contestants with older, more trained dogs ever told that this would be the determining factor before the competition started?

Bill: I would respond to this question with the same answer I gave Charli. I thought it was based on the ‘bond’ between the handler and the dog.

Bill lives in Flint, TX with wife Sherri and Star’s two housemates, rescues Lucille and Maggie. To learn more about Star and Bill, find out about their upcoming appearances, or ask a question you can stop by their site. Maybe you’ll be lucky and they’ll be coming to a town near you.