Insights into World of Animal Actors

Book shares inside stories from trainers and others about how dogs and other animal actors pull off their performances.

Animal StarsSome of the most popular movies ever made have had dogs as their stars. There wouldn’t be a “Wizard of Oz’’ movie without Toto digging up Ms. Gulch’s garden. From Rin Tin Tin to Lassie, dogs and other animals have left us everlasting memories on film and on TV.

But did you ever sit on the couch with your furry pal and wonder where these dog actors come from, and how they learn to do such amazing things on screen?

You can take a look behind the curtain, and see how the magic is made by trainers and TV and film producers, thanks to “Animal Stars: Behind the Scenes with Your Favorite Animal Actors,’’ a new book being published in partnership with the American Humane Association.

“Animal actors have been delighting audiences for more than a century, and I know that some of my earliest and fondest memories from when I was kid have to do with those animals I saw in Disney movies and watched on TV,” says book co-author Robin Ganzert, who is also AHA’s president and CEO. “This book is my love letter to Hollywood’s beloved animal stars, and I know readers will have a newfound admiration for the hard work and dedication that these animals and their trainers undergo to bring these spectacular roles to life on screen.”

The book includes quotes, anecdotes, and endorsements from filmmakers such as Steven Spielberg and candid, fascinating stories by some of the world’s top animal trainers, such as Mathilde de Cagny, who was DOG FANCY’s Trainer of the Year in 2013.

De Cagny has been rescuing dogs for more than 25 years and then turning them into TV and film stars. In the book she talks about the challenge of finding and training a dog, and the satisfaction she gains from not just saving a dog’s life, but creating art.

“There are two most important and emotionally intense days for an actor dog and me. The first day is when the dog comes home with me. On adoption day, I take an animal’s life in my hands. It’s a huge responsibility. I promise to always do the right thing with him. We are embarking on this voyage together. Because we will be working in film, what we have done as a partnership will stay on file in history.

“The second most important and emotional time is the last day of a show in which the dog and I have gone through an incredible journey. We have accomplished contributing to a movie that will be on the screen forever as a classic American icon. That’s the kind of experience I had with my Jack Russell Terrier Moose when he played Eddie Crane on the television series Frasier for 11 years and old Skip in the movie My Dog Skip.’’

 “Animal Stars” will be published on Sept. 25, 2014, the eve of the 75th anniversary of the organization’s “No Animals Were Harmed®” program, which has overseen the protection of literally millions of animal actors on thousands of movie and television sets around the world since 1940.

It is available at bookstores and online at Amazon

A portion of all sales proceeds will benefit the life-saving work of the AHA.



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