July 24, 1998 at 04:00 AM EDT

Cats aren’t the only ones with nine lives. Puffy, the scene-stealing pup in There’s Something About Mary, proves dogs can take a licking and keep on ticking. The female Border terrier (real name: Slammer), gets zapped, slapped, and, in one memorable gag, wrapped in a full-body cast.

Before PETA members storm the multiplexes, Mary producer Charles Wessler explains that the production used “three fake dogs” for Slammer’s action scenes. But Wessler says the plucky pooch did do the body-cast scene herself—custom-fitted in a three-piece, cloth-lined suit “that connected in areas you couldn’t see,” says Wessler. Slammer was in the immobilizing costume for “10 seconds to get the shot,” he says. “She’s amazing.” Slammer’s ordeal has even been immortalized: Last week, Twentieth Century Fox sent out stuffed dogs in casts to journalists as promo items. Some of the plastered pups were also used as table centerpieces at the movie’s premiere party last week. Now everyone’s hound happy. “We’ve never had so many people wanting a promo item,” says a Fox publicist. But reporters looking for more of the toys are out of luck. Due to the price tag ($16 each) and the time-consuming process (each is individually wrapped in a plaster bandage and takes more than a day to dry), the studio commissioned only 820 stuffed animals. “I have the last one,” adds the publicist, “and I’m not about to part with it.”

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