Pup Star: Better 2Gether would not be the amazing family/friendly movie it is without it’s stars; the Pups! And the pups would not be the “stars” they are without some amazing trainers who work with them (even live with them) on a daily basis. While in Canada last year on the set of Pup Star: Better 2Gether, I was able to meet some of the talented animals on set as well as chat with their trainers. Trainer Mark Hardin and his “Pup Star” Lucas sat down and answered a few of our burning questions. Here are some of the highlights from our chat!
On Training & The Animals
We’re always training them. But it usually takes around four months to get a dog from the shelter to the stage.
We keep about 20 at the company. We brought about 25 up here, but we sublease some from other companies. We got a couple from local people to work with for a couple weeks.
Do The Animals Live With Their Trainer?
It depends on the dog. It’s not always best for them when we do that. We do our best to acclimate them to our world. So if some dogs really want to suck up, they get more anxious when we have to create a distance. Our job isn’t to make the dog look like he loves me, but he loves that actor or that one. Some dogs are really good at balancing both.
Where Do They Find The Animals?
Mostly we have failed pets. That’s what we work with, shelter dogs, breed rescues. A lot of them prefer the company of other dogs, and are use to living in kennels. Home isn’t their favorite place.
In the states, a lot of different breeds have groups that represent them. They don’t want them to end up in shelters. A lot of responsible breeds like Golden Retrievers are never in there for more than a day before a breed rescue comes for them.
On Lucas Being A “Classic Street Dog”
Whenever we have a feature film where you have to keep the dogs three or four months working, they cast a dog that has a double. We want them to look like a mutt, the American audience doesn’t really know what it is. A lot are registered breeds, but not AKC so not ones people aren’t familiar with. So we can sell them as a mutt.
Why Are Shelter Dogs Ideal Actors?
All the things they’ve done wrong and gotten “in trouble with” they succeeded it. “I want to dig, I want to jump a fence, I want to bark until my eyes pop out.” They do these things to the point that people can’t stop them. So in their mind, they’ve really succeeded. They don’t realize they’re at the shelter and they’re in jail. In their minds they’re winners. “I got away with this, and I got away with that” In our work, they keep trying. Just because you say no, they don’t stop. “What if I try it this way or that way” They have a little more umph than a well behaved, well raised, well adjusted dog. They have a little more push back, and aren’t going to get upset when you tell them to do something.