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It started as a few YouTube videos for beagles Jack and Jill, but now they have become international stars.

Beagles Jack and Jill reside in Hamilton with their owners John and Claudia Williams.

For 13 years, the Williamses have owned Bitterroot Kennels and 8-Paws Pet Shop in Hamilton.

“We wanted to semi-retire and get out of the rat race,” John said. The couple first thought about a bed and breakfast, but realized cats and dogs were the way they wanted to go.

Little did they know, the choice would also make them – or at least their pets – TV stars.

Jill, 5, will appear on Animal Planet’s “Bad Dog” show this Saturday, July 7 at 7 p.m. MST.

John said he was concerned at first, as Jill’s “tennis ball video” doesn’t actually show bad behavior. He said she was just having fun and not doing anything bad, especially compared to the true bad dogs that have appeared on the show, tearing up carpet and belongings.

However, Animal Planet said they are mixing a few “good dog” videos in with the bad dogs.

The Williamses now own and run Bitterroot Beagle Productions. Some of the videos have become internationally known. Jill has been featured on Dutch Television and Japan Broadcasting. She is scheduled to be airing in Scotland this summer.

The fame began with a video shot when Jill was 18 months old and put four miniature tennis balls into her mouth at the same time. Over the three years it has been on YouTube, more than 378,000 people have watched her video.

David Letterman wanted Jill to come on the show, but she doesn’t put the tennis balls into her mouth on command. Williams said they are working on another video that they think David Letterman would enjoy.

“Then hopefully he will have them on,” he said.

Jack, 8, is the movie star from “Jack the Bitterroot Beagle.” His first feature film, “The Adventures of Jack the Bitterroot Beagle,” was made for dogs and their people.

John said they probably walked over 500 miles in the Bitterroot working on Jack’s second film, “The Golden Bone.” The film is for children and families.

“It was a family affair.” Jill and their oldest dog Pete, 16, were in the film along with several customers’ dogs from Bitterroot Kennels.

“Jack is very food motivated,” John said. He said Jack’s eyes light up and he will follow the piece of food around until he gets it. In fact, they have to tie cupboards shut so Jack doesn’t get into the food when they are out.

Jack’s popular YouTube video of him snowboarding has been viewed by 46,000 people. His snowboarding techniques will be hitting British Broadcasting this summer.

Both Jill’s tennis ball video and Jack’s snowboarding video were featured as 2 of 40 dogs on Animal Planet’s show “America’s Cutest Dog” in 2010.

With more than 50 YouTube videos, John said he has several favorite videos with his beagles, especially the watermelon contest between Jack, Jill and Pete. He said his favorite would be “Pete’s 14th Birthday Party.” He described each of his beagles sitting at the table with party hats and eating cake.

Reach reporter Julia Williamson at 363-3300 or julia.williamson@ravallirepublic.com.

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