Thunder follows wherever Kristin Chenoweth goes.
It’s not because the Tony and Emmy Award-winning Broken Arrow native seems to move with lightning speed from one project to the next — from recording a hit album like “For the Girls” and presenting a sold-out series of concerts on Broadway to starring in a Hallmark Hall of Fame Christmas film and readying a new TV series.
It’s because Thunder doesn’t have much choice in the matter.
Thunder is Chenoweth’s four-legged constant companion, a mixture of miniature poodle and cocker spaniel and — a bit surprisingly for a pup that fits comfortably under the arm of the famously petite Chenoweth — Norwegian elk hound.
“I know — it’s wild, but I had the doggie DNA test done, and that’s what came back,” Chenoweth said, laughing. “I suppose she’s really just a Heinz dog — you know, 57 varieties.”
Thunder first came into Chenoweth’s life about three years ago, in ways that make it seem as if they were meant to be together.
In 2016, Chenoweth’s dog Maddie — a Maltese named after Chenoweth’s idol Madeline Kahn — passed away after 14 years together.
“I honestly didn’t think I would ever get over losing Maddie, even though I can’t imagine a world in which I did not have some kind of pet,” Chenoweth said. “But then — and I know this is going to sound weird, but it’s what happened — Maddie came to me in a dream and basically said, ‘Girl, you need to move on.’ ”
And the first step in moving on was for Chenoweth to visit the Saving Spot Rescue in Los Angeles, where she spotted the umber curls and bright eyes of a puppy that had recently been brought to the shelter.
“Apparently, she had been dumped on the side of a highway somewhere in Orange County (California),” Chenoweth said. “At least the person who did it called the shelter first to say what he was going to do, and they went out and picked her up.”
Chenoweth said she thought it was important that her new companion be a rescue.
“There are just so many dogs that need homes, so getting a rescue dog seemed a natural thing to do,” she said. “I needed a puppy I could train, and the minute we laid eyes on each other, I knew this was the dog for me.”
Thunder is officially a service animal, which allows her to accompany Chenoweth just about anywhere.
“I don’t like to fly, but I have to fly all the time for my job,” she said. “Being able to have Thunder with me helps calm me down. She’s with me in hotels, she comes with me to the theater and waits backstage while I’m performing. The only place where she isn’t so well behaved is at home because she knows she can get away with things.
“I love all kinds of animals, but dogs have always had a special place in my heart,” Chenoweth said. “They give you unconditional love — and so much more. I’ve had full-on conversations with Thunder, and you can just look in her eyes and know how she feels about whatever it is we’re talking about.”