Is a ‘One-of-a-Kind’ Champion Mutt
Once again, it was the motorcycle. It wasn’t the group that normally rides through Pacific Palisades every Wednesday evening, leaving everyone upset about the noise.
Instead, residents were awed when a 13-pound Bijon mix named Prince Dudeman crashed the Palisades Fourth of July Parade, riding a mini-motorcycle.
The canine’s many accomplishments have included starring as Mr. Shades in Nickelodeon’s Emmy-nominated series “Mutt and Stuff” and taking first place in a surfing competition at Huntington Beach in 2017 and 2018.
Has owner/trainer Ryan Thor had a lot of practice with dogs to be able to get this kind of performance out of a mutt? Well, Thor trained horses when growing up in Ohio, but not dogs. He moved to Miami Beach because he thought it would be easier to break into commercials than moving straight to L.A.
Along with acting, Thor was in a band, and worked as a fitness trainer. He had not planned on getting a dog. “I rescued Dude from a lawyer. We all need to be rescued from a lawyer,” he joked.
The lawyer was a fitness client and had just adopted two dogs. They seemed to be fighting, so Thor took one, a six-month Bijou mix in 2008.
He began noticing that his dog, Prince Dudeman, had occasional trouble jumping up, so he took the dog to a vet. Back then, the little pooch was diagnosed with luxating patella and his legs suffer from occasional dislocation.
Everything changed for the owner and dog in 2010 when Thor was involved in a head-on car crash. His injuries included a herniated neck and back and a fractured knee. “I was a bruised mess,” he said. “I had trouble breathing. Also, my band broke up and I became depressed.” A friend encouraged him to get into fitness training for the disabled.
Throughout Thor’s recovery Dude was there. “I figured out how to stabilize my back and head and get back to a normal life,” he said. “I had to detox off pain meds.”
He started walking on crutches with Dude beside him. The two advanced to jogging and then running. “He healed and I healed,” Thor said.
The Dudeman learned to stand on Thor’s head and from there it was an easy transition to “riding” the motorcycle.
The two moved to Los Angeles in 2012, so Thor could continue his acting career. Still a fitness trainer, he started working with people who needed rehab. “Someone suggested I do pet therapy,” Thor said and the Dudeman had a new career.
“While we were doing a photo shoot to hand out baseball cards to patients, an agent saw us and wanted to submit Dude for a television show,” Thor said.
The dog received the part and was in 13 episodes of the first season of “Mutt and Stuff,” playing Mr. Shades. In 2018, the dog filmed two one-hour specials for the series.
Thor and Dudeman appeared as a superhero duo in the “Gong Show.” (Visit: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-5o9TfHXEzY) “I was his sidekick,” he said, noting they had unique outfits. “We got a perfect 10 and tied for first place.”
Dudeman has an interesting haircut, with the fur around his face framing it like a mane. “He’s a one-of-a-kind dog, so I decided to give him a one-of-a- kind haircut,” Thor said.
Thor explained that since Dude was such a little dog he came up with the cut after doing a commercial for “Game of Thrones” in season two.
“Kings are always big around the shoulders with their outfits, and guys are all about working out and making shoulders and biceps/triceps look larger,” Thor said. “I decided to give him a mantle, which makes him look bigger.”
This year, Dudeman was first in the Purina Pro Plan Incredible Dog Challenge, held in Avon, Colorado. “The challenge includes a race, an obstacle course and a standup paddle board,” Thor said. “The other dogs were about 50 pounds, Dude is 13.”
Having won the dog surf contest in Huntington Beach in 2017 and 2018, Dudeman will try to bring home yet another trophy later this year.
What’s the trick to training a dog?
“Building a lot of trust, so it will try new things,” said Thor, who is still working commercials and recently did ads for Walmart and Mercedes-Benz. He is now looking for a theatrical agent.
Dudeman and his owner continue to volunteer for pet therapy in hospitals, nursing homes, schools and libraries. Thor still acts, works as a fitness trainer for humans, and also with dogs and their owners. Follow them on Instagram @thoranddudeman.