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Bayside dog shines as model

Rebecca Wenner is used to being in front of a camera. In addition to running her own law practice, the Bayside resident created the Queens Adventure Boot Camp for Women, and videos of her offering fitness tips and instructions can be seen on the Internet.

And while her face may be familiar, if you’ve ever seen her whipping people into shape in Little Bay Park or the Samuel Field Y, it’s Wenner’s dog, Martha, that may be the one getting recognized strolling down Bell Boulevard.

Martha, the year-old basset hound, has recently participated in advertising shoots for Hush Puppies and Tommy Hilfiger, and all the attention that comes with her new celebrity status is being put to a good cause.

Wenner said her first basset hound was rescued from an animal shelter, and after it died a friend helped her find a breeder. Wenner, who begins her days at 4:45 a.m. and is full of endless energy, said she needed a laid-back breed that would be somewhat of a balance in her life.

“I couldn’t have had a Lab,” she said as she smiled down at Martha, who rolled around on the TimesLedger Newspapers newsroom floor last week.

Wenner put Martha in a dog training program, which taught her to sit, roll over and walk on a leash, and taught Wenner how to teach Martha. After Martha progressed into the advanced class, her trainer told Wenner that Hush Puppies was looking for a dog for an ad, and he thought both dog and owner would be perfect for it.

“She was very intelligent for an 11-month-old,” Wenner said. “She enjoys performing, and I think they liked that I’m a responsible owner.”

With a private trainer and now her own agent, Martha was ready for her nine-hour shoot, and once it was over, there was an offer the following week to pose for Martha for Tommy Hilfiger.

“She’s spoiled because she’s a star and she knows it,” Wenner joked.

But after hanging out with models all day on a farm on Long Island, Martha still comes home with Wenner, where the hour she spends playing with her every day helps to relieve the stress of her busy life.

And it’s fortunate Martha is getting so much publicity. Community service is important to Wenner, and she uses Martha’s notoriety to raise funds for Bobbi and the Strays, a nonprofit animal shelter in Glendale.

Soon, Martha will be ready to sit for her test as a therapy dog, where she’ll visit people in nursing homes and children’s hospitals to uplift the spirits of those in need.

“She has a lot of star power, and she’d love to do finger-painting art with kids,” Wenner said.

Reach reporter Rich Bockmann by e-mail at rbockmann@cnglocal.com or by phone at 718-260-4574.

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