The next seven days were a variation on that theme — lots of waiting around, lots of free food, lots of rain and mud, and some work, generally with me crouching behind or between or below. We were fortunate that we had a company of actors and crew who generally seemed to care about Tiger’s well-being; they allowed us to bring him along to the lunchroom, and they treated him like a star. Jake Cherry, the young actor playing Tiger’s owner, was also wonderful and really took the time to bond with Tiger.
That said, it was not an easy job. Situations popped up on set every day that required a great deal of skill and patience and creativity. While general obedience training is important (skills like STAY, COME and, of course, SPEAK), it is not enough. The dog has to want to be there and feel comfortable around many, many people, lots of different noises, and all manner of other unpredictable situations. I had trained Tiger, for example, to play dead and hold that position even as someone leaned over him. What I did not train him for was for that someone to jump afterward.
I should add that Tiger was never in any physical danger during the shoot. As a matter of fact, the scariest scene in the movie was actually the easiest to shoot, as the behaviors needed were close to what I’d imagined when we prepared. Much of that is also due to the two representatives on set from American Humane, who were our advocates on set and off, ensuring that no animals were harmed.