Musa: There are differences in opinion within Islamic law about the impurity of the dog, and that can often be exaggerated. It comes less from the religion itself than from cultural practices and not being exposed to dogs. Also, when immigrant families have to feed themselves, pet-keeping seems like a luxury. Besides religion, there’s a racial/cultural component. And then at the end, people have to realize that keeping the dog is harder for him than it is for other people, not just because of religion but also because of social and economic factors. So I hope that people see that there are layers to that choice, and appreciate it.
For a dog to get a part in a film project often involves having the good luck of meeting the requirements of size, color and breed. However, there are tricks your dog can master that could help land a part. Dogs need to be social and have a solid stay in the sit, down or stand position. They should also be trained from a distance because most of the time, you can’t be right next to your dog when shooting is in progress. Hand signals are best, especially when sound is required.
Debi Pool, of Animal Talent Pool, provided a list of some of the actions that were needed on command in the past: “Put head down, fetch, hold an item while in a sit or stand, dead dog, speak, eat on command, go to mark, come from mark, come through door and stop at mark, dig, scratch, tug on pant leg, lift leg to pee, skateboard, roller skate, wear clothing, sleep in a hammock, smell flowers, sit with other animals, walk with other animals, have air blown in face to get hair moving, have toenails painted or trimmed, be shampooed, get a haircut, and swim, just to name a few. Your dog does not need to know everything. He/she just needs to be willing to learn new things.”
Much of Ayla’s role was simply to be a good girl and hang out with the actor, but she did need a few special skills for her movie career. She needed to have a strong sit and down stay in a variety of non-standard locations, a bark on command, a reliable recall, the ability to watch or look at someone, and a willingness to get into and ride around in a box or duffle bag. None of these activities are difficult, but they demonstrate the value of clicker training, shaping and generalization skills.
Just as important is the trusting relationship that is developed when working with and training your dog. Using positive reinforcement methods can help you develop good behavior and a trusting relationship, transforming your dog into a star both on-screen and off.