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

Junior VB.NET Application Developer (ASP.NET, SQL, Graduate)

£28000 - £30000 per annum + Benefits + Bonus: Harrington Starr: Junior VB.NET ...

C# .NET Web Developer (ASP.NET, JavaScript, jQuery, XML, XLST)

£40000 - £50000 per annum + Benefits + Bonus: Harrington Starr: C# .NET Web De...

Clinical Negligence Solicitor

Highly Competitive Salary: Austen Lloyd: HAMPSHIRE MARKET TOWN - A highly attr...

Network Engineer (CCNP, CCNA, Linux, OSPF, BGP, Multicast, WAN)

£35000 per annum: Harrington Starr: Network Engineer (CCNP, CCNA, Linux, OSPF,...

Day In a Page

Read Next
 

The power of anonymity lies in the freedom it grants

Boyd Tonkin
Rebel fighters walk in front of damaged buildings in Karam al-Jabal neighbourhood of Aleppo on August 26, 2014.  

The Isis threat must be confronted with clarity and determination

Ed Miliband
Ukraine crisis: The phoney war is over as Russian troops and armour pour across the border

The phoney war is over

Russian troops and armour pour into Ukraine
Potatoes could be off the menu as crop pests threaten UK

Potatoes could be off the menu as crop pests threaten UK

The world’s entire food system is under attack - and Britain is most at risk, according to a new study
Gangnam smile: why the Chinese are flocking to South Korea to buy a new face

Gangnam smile: why the Chinese are flocking to South Korea to buy a new face

Seoul's plastic surgery industry is booming thanks to the popularity of the K-Pop look
From Mozart to Orson Welles: Creative geniuses who peaked too soon

Creative geniuses who peaked too soon

After the death of Sandy Wilson, 90, who wrote his only hit musical in his twenties, John Walsh wonders what it's like to peak too soon and go on to live a life more ordinary
Caught in the crossfire of a cyber Cold War

Caught in the crossfire of a cyber Cold War

Fears are mounting that Vladimir Putin has instructed hackers to target banks like JP Morgan
Salomé's feminine wiles have inspired writers, painters and musicians for 2,000 years

Salomé: A head for seduction

Salomé's feminine wiles have inspired writers, painters and musicians for 2,000 years. Now audiences can meet the Biblical femme fatale in two new stage and screen projects
From Bram Stoker to Stanley Kubrick, the British Library's latest exhibition celebrates all things Gothic

British Library celebrates all things Gothic

Forthcoming exhibition Terror and Wonder: The Gothic Imagination will be the UK's largest ever celebration of Gothic literature
The Hard Rock Café's owners are embroiled in a bitter legal dispute - but is the restaurant chain worth fighting for?

Is the Hard Rock Café worth fighting for?

The restaurant chain's owners are currently embroiled in a bitter legal dispute
Caribbean cuisine is becoming increasingly popular in the UK ... and there's more to it than jerk chicken at carnival

In search of Caribbean soul food

Caribbean cuisine is becoming increasingly popular in the UK ... and there's more to it than jerk chicken at carnival
11 best face powders

11 best face powders

Sweep away shiny skin with our pick of the best pressed and loose powder bases
England vs Norway: Roy Hodgson's hands tied by exploding top flight

Roy Hodgson's hands tied by exploding top flight

Lack of Englishmen at leading Premier League clubs leaves manager hamstrung
Angel Di Maria and Cristiano Ronaldo: A tale of two Manchester United No 7s

Di Maria and Ronaldo: A tale of two Manchester United No 7s

They both inherited the iconic shirt at Old Trafford, but the £59.7m new boy is joining a club in a very different state
Israel-Gaza conflict: No victory for Israel despite weeks of death and devastation

Robert Fisk: No victory for Israel despite weeks of devastation

Palestinians have won: they are still in Gaza, and Hamas is still there
Mary Beard writes character reference for Twitter troll who called her a 'slut'

Unlikely friends: Mary Beard and the troll who called her a ‘filthy old slut’

The Cambridge University classicist even wrote the student a character reference
America’s new apartheid: Prosperous white districts are choosing to break away from black cities and go it alone

America’s new apartheid

Prosperous white districts are choosing to break away from black cities and go it alone