When Ray Collins talks about his dog, you know it’s coming from a place of pure love: his heart.
“She’s got the best eyes in the world,” Collins, a professional DJ from Mobberley, England, tells PEOPLE. “She really has got fantastic eyes.”
Something about those brown stunners — which were perhaps a little more sad looking last year than they are today — helped change Freya the dog’s life forever. On Sunday, about a year after she walked out of a shelter for the last time, she walked the blue carpet at a blockbuster movie premiere.
The pup with epilepsy was dubbed Britain’s “loneliest dog” by a British newspaper and her story caught the eye of movie producer Michael Bay, who decided to cast the pooch in Transformers: The Last Knight with the aim of helping to find her a home.
The dog, who’d spent six years at the Freshfields Animal Rescue where she was passed over by thousands of potential adopters, struggled for years to find her forever, likely because of her epilepsy.
Dog-lover Collins, 62, who had previous experience with dogs with the disorder, was selected as the lucky guy to bring Freya home (Collins’ wife Jackie, is also the dog’s caretaker). But the pup’s involvement in the megawatt movie was an adoption day bonus, indeed.
“So we took Freya [home] and then it was about 4 to 6 weeks afterwards that we had a phone call from Pinewood Studios, informing us that Michael Bay would like to have the dog in his new film,” he says. “When we arrived [on set], they said to us, ‘Here’s the gentleman who’s going to own Freya in the film’ and it was Sir Anthony Hopkins. He was a fantastic gent.”
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You might say that Freya was a nice foil to her genial costar, who plays a robot expert. “She’s a diva, she really is,” Collins explains. “On set with Michael Bay, the whole cast would stroke her all the time. We did a scene in a castle where there was about an hour break and Michael Bay sat on one side of her and Sir Anthony Hopkins sat on the other side and they just stroked her for an hour. Proper animal lovers.”
Though more familiar with shelters than with acting, this 7-year-old Staffordshire bull terrier learned the ropes quickly. She trained last summer with an animal trainer in Burton on Trent, where she showed herself to be a very “bright dog,” Collins says.
She definitely uses that keen intellect at home in Mobberley, where Collins and his wife devote all their time to the pooch. “She can open doors and everything. She’s a crazy girl,” he says. “She gives you the look. She’s in the kitchen, she sits down, looks at my wife. Then looks at the fridge. She looks at my wife and then looks at the fridge. She does it all the time.”
Both Ray and Jackie — who also have a Chihuahua/Jack Russell mix named Joan — spoil the dog rotten, as do people who know her adorable face around town.
“She goes around all the posh areas. And she’ll come to work with me. Generally she’s just in cars just coming around all day. She’s something else,” he says. “The amount of people who love her around Stockport in the town — we used to live in Stockport before we moved — they all know her.”
Despite taking medication for epilepsy, Freya still has about two to three seizures a month (“You hold them and make sure they don’t damage themselves,” he describes) but none of it gets her down, after all, she’s found a safe and loving home, a far cry from the walls of an animal shelter.
“She’s a nutcase. She eats more than a couple pigs,” he jokes. “But she’s doing so much walking and running around now that it’s keeping her fit.”
Fit for future roles, it seems. “I’m looking for a proper dog agent now,” says Collins. “She does love [acting], she loves people.”
The Last Knight premiere was like a Cinderella ending for the dog that nobody wanted for so long. “She was very happy to see and lick Michael Bay, he was great with her,” Collins tells PEOPLE of Freya’s blue carpet walk. “She was very popular with the audience, it was an awesome experience.”