Rats! Camera! Action!

13 Aug

This was an interesting day. They were shooting a scene for something being used in the Atlanta Film Festival. Part of this Western theme included a “damsel in distress” crying into a hanky. She was going to “ring” the tears from her hanky, and they wanted a dog who would jump up at the dropping tears. Easier said than done. First, they wanted this to happen on part of the constructed set that was supposed to be a front porch. The slats of wood on the set were far enough apart that Hannah could have easier gotten a leg stuck. So I had to tell the Director that wasn’t going to work.  When working in film/tv with your dogs, you ALWAYS have to look out for their safety, and not be afraid to say no. The Director is usually used to just working with people – and doesn’t always see the dangers/difficulties a scene might pose for an animal. The agreed to shoot the scene on the level ground.

The week before we shot this, we attend a Go-to-Ground event. GTG is a test for terriers in which them have to find a rat in a maze (the rat is behind bars to they can’t get to it) Hannah loved rat hunting! At the GTG trial the entrance to the rat maze was surrounded by hay bales. We spent that weekend approaching the hay bales, then hunting for rats.

So jump to the next weekend and my prior post about dogs learning from patterns 🙂 The set had hay bales all over it. I hadn’t really even noticed them when we got there. So it was finally the time to shoot Hannah’s scene. Everyone was ready – lights, camera, action. I unclipped her leash  – and she took off to another part of the set and dove into the hay bales. CUT! Hay bales equaled rats to her at this point. Even when she found no rats – just being with the hay bales was fun for her. So…I knew I was beat at this point and I asked them to remove the hay bales from the set. If I had time I could have desensitized her to hay bales and associated them with something more calming than rats – but the show had to go on. They moved them off the set – and we went on to shoot a stellar scene.

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