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HPU student trains Lost star

by Nanea Kalani, staff writer


An HPU student, Kimberly Stahl, is the owner, trainer, and on-set handler of one of the stars of ABC’s primetime series, Lost.

Stahl is a senior accounting major who was born and raised in Pittsburgh, Pa., and who has called Hawai‘i home since 1998. Her “client” is Madison, an American Kennel Club (AKC) registered yellow Labrador retriever, who has a recurring role on the show as Vincent, the canine companion of the character played by Malcolm David Kelly. The cast and crew refer to Madison as “the star” of the show, according to Stahl.



Madison, who is six years old, “enjoys tracking, [and is] obsessed with tennis balls and the game of fetch,” said Stahl, “and she loves to be at work on Lost. Madison thrives on the excitement and craziness of being on set,” Stahl added.

Before her television career, Madison was an obedience competitor and tracker. She was ranked the No. 8 obedience dog in Hawai‘i for 2001.

Stahl said she first heard about the canine casting call from a fellow animal trainer, and at first she was under the impression that the production was either for a video or commercial. “It wasn’t until I had a meeting with J.J. Abrams, Lost creator and executive producer, that I was informed about the role of Vincent in the two-hour pilot for a potential television series,” she said.

Stahl and Madison had a “very informal” audition with Abrams in March 2004. “The audition consisted of Madison acting out the scenes J.J. had written for the pilot script. This consisted of some simple basic commands: “sit,” “stay,” “walk slow,” as well as more complicated directions: “come to a stand and stay while alone” and “run off leash while still under voice control,” Stahl said.

“ I honestly did not do anything to prepare Madison for the audition. The fact that she’s very well trained in obedience, coupled with her obsession for tennis balls, [means] I’m able to get her to do anything,” Stahl said. “She’s the kind of girl who is always on top of things, and if she ever found out that she’s a dog, she’d be devastated.”

Madison was cast for the role, and Stahl was hired on the spot, after a 10-minute demonstration of the duo’s capabilities and talent.

Stahl said that days on-set are quite unpredictable, so she tries to takes things as they come. She also explained that she does “a lot of juggling between my full-time job, my full-time schedule with HPU, and Lost. With all of the demands on my schedule,” Stahl said, “my GPA has dropped to a 3.7, but I wouldn’t trade this experience for the world.”

Stahl is also the owner of Rygwood Labradors, which she established in 2001. She provides obedience training, boards puppies, occasionally, and develops animal talent. Stahl said she hopes to grow these activities into a larger venue.

“ I have always been passionate about animals, but dogs, in particular, hold most of my heart. Even though I’ve worked full time as an accountant for the past 10 years, my goal is to be able to make my living working with animals,” Stahl said.

Madison can be seen in action on ABC, Wednesday nights at 7.



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