Deep down I am not a dog person. And here I was, talking to one

There’s a lot of propaganda about how intelligent dogs are, but I’m not sure

Share
Related Topics

Last week, I disobeyed the old industry catchphrase about never working with animals or kids. Desperate for work and beguiled by the script, I signed up to perform alongside a dog in a short film.

I had apprehensions about the prospect of working with a dog, of course, and I voiced them to the producer-figures. I got bitten by a Jack Russell in Thetford when I was nine, and I know it’s not cool to tar them all with the same brush, but I do. I thought I should let them know I was on edge and they arranged for me to meet Dodger and get to know him a bit before filming. Spending time socialising with the dog might make working with him in the cut-and-thrust of a movie set less pressurised, was the thinking.

Me, Dodger and one of the producers met for a Chinese the Saturday before filming started. It helped, I think. These things are always awkward, with long silences as the players eye each other up over noodles. I have an ego, Dodger has an ego. I am suspicious of dogs, dogs are suspicious of columnists who also act. But Dodger seemed like a nice enough lad and we had a lot in common. We haven’t had any formal acting training, we both have beards, and neither of us can use chopsticks. The producer went home, me and Dodge had one more in a slightly quieter bar and then we went our separate ways.

Acting with a dog is tough. There’s a lot of propaganda about how intelligent dogs are, but I’m not sure. Dodge was smart enough and I think we shared a lot of affection for one another, but as an actor he was a bloody nightmare. And I say that knowing for a fact he won’t read this. He took very little interest in me the whole week, so certainly won’t be seeking out my column. The only time he gave me the time of day was when my character was feeding him – then his performance suddenly went through the roof. Aside from that, he was impossible; all over the place with his lines and he had a terrible habit of looking incredibly distant right up to the moment we were turning over.

Deep down the problem might have been that I am not a dog person. And here I was in a situation where I had to talk to, run with and hold a dog. And because I’m not a dog person, I found it difficult to hold Dodger and kept accidentally touching his penis. If you’ve never done any acting let me tell you, that’s a big no-no in this game.

The reaction to Dodger on set was illuminating. As an actor with my skillset I am used to a general indifference, but when it’s thrown into relief by adulation for my co-star it can become demoralising. Bung in the fact that your co-star is a dog and it gets plain depressing. I don’t like to blow my own trumpet, but any time our director, Jon, said action, I was all over it like a rash, throwing my arms about, yelling my lines, pouring my life and soul into pretending to be whoever it was the script was suggesting. And down by my shins I had Dodger, listless and sullen, seemingly with no real interest in getting under the skin of the character of Floppy. I swear, half the time he was gazing at the admittedly effervescent make-up girls. And yet on cut there’d be a tidal-wave of praise for the little shit’s acting skills. Dodger this and Dodger that. But that’s the game I guess, and he never rubbed my face in it.

By the end of the week I think there was a begrudging respect between myself and Dodger. As they called cut on the final scene, and the crew applauded, he appeared to wink at me. He seemed to be saying “good job” and that felt good. But at the wrap drinks he was distant with me again. Same old story. His handler said he was tired. Still, it doesn’t cost anything to be pleasant.

React Now

Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Recruitment Genius: Web Developer - Junior / Mid Weight

£15000 - £25000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: To support their continued grow...

Recruitment Genius: Marketing Data Specialist

£22000 - £25000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: They are the go-to company for ...

Recruitment Genius: Search Marketing Specialist - PPC / SEO

Negotiable: Recruitment Genius: This is an opportunity to join the UK's leadin...

Recruitment Genius: Sales Administrator

Negotiable: Recruitment Genius: This caravan dealership are currently recruiti...

Day In a Page

Read Next
Rafael Nadal is down and out, beaten by Dustin Brown at Wimbledon – but an era is not thereby ended  

Sad as it is, Rafael Nadal's decline does not mark the end of tennis's golden era

Tom Peck
Is this the future of flying: battery-powered planes made of plastic, and without flight decks?

Is this the future of flying?

Battery-powered planes made of plastic, and without flight decks
Isis are barbarians – but the Caliphate is a dream at the heart of all Muslim traditions

Isis are barbarians

but the Caliphate is an ancient Muslim ideal
The Brink's-Mat curse strikes again: three tons of stolen gold that brought only grief

Curse of Brink's Mat strikes again

Death of John 'Goldfinger' Palmer the latest killing related to 1983 heist
Greece debt crisis: 'The ministers talk to us about miracles' – why Greeks are cynical ahead of the bailout referendum

'The ministers talk to us about miracles'

Why Greeks are cynical ahead of the bailout referendum
Call of the wild: How science is learning to decode the way animals communicate

Call of the wild

How science is learning to decode the way animals communicate
Greece debt crisis: What happened to democracy when it’s a case of 'Vote Yes or else'?

'The economic collapse has happened. What is at risk now is democracy...'

If it doesn’t work in Europe, how is it supposed to work in India or the Middle East, asks Robert Fisk
The science of swearing: What lies behind the use of four-letter words?

The science of swearing

What lies behind the use of four-letter words?
The Real Stories of Migrant Britain: Clive fled from Zimbabwe - now it won't have him back

The Real Stories of Migrant Britain

Clive fled from Zimbabwe - now it won’t have him back
Africa on the menu: Three foodie friends want to popularise dishes from the continent

Africa on the menu

Three foodie friends want to popularise dishes from the hot new continent
Donna Karan is stepping down after 30 years - so who will fill the DKNY creator's boots?

Who will fill Donna Karan's boots?

The designer is stepping down as Chief Designer of DKNY after 30 years. Alexander Fury looks back at the career of 'America's Chanel'
10 best statement lightbulbs

10 best statement lightbulbs

Dare to bare with some out-of-the-ordinary illumination
Wimbledon 2015: Heather Watson - 'I had Serena's poster on my wall – now I'm playing her'

Heather Watson: 'I had Serena's poster on my wall – now I'm playing her'

Briton pumped up for dream meeting with world No 1
Wimbledon 2015: Nick Bollettieri - It's time for big John Isner to produce the goods to go with his thumping serve

Nick Bollettieri's Wimbledon Files

It's time for big John Isner to produce the goods to go with his thumping serve
Dustin Brown: Who is the tennis player who knocked Rafael Nadal out of Wimbeldon 2015?

Dustin Brown

Who is the German player that knocked Nadal out of Wimbeldon 2015?
Ashes 2015: Damien Martyn - 'England are fired up again, just like in 2005...'

Damien Martyn: 'England are fired up again, just like in 2005...'

Australian veteran of that Ashes series, believes the hosts' may become unstoppable if they win the first Test