Channing Tatum's touching buddy comedy, "DOG," about two army rangers, Jackson Briggs (Tatum) and Lulu (a Belgian Malinois) is set to hit theaters on Friday, with select theaters having showtimes on Monday for Valentine's Day. With the film set to come out so soon, Townhall received an early look at the film and an online digital publication exclusive into a featurette on what it was like for Channing Tatum, who also co-directed the film, to work with the animal trainers and three dogs who played Lulu.
Via a road trip in his 1984 Ford Bronco, Briggs is assigned to transport Lulu to the funeral for Sergeant Riley Rodriguez, who was Lulu's handler when they served together in the Middle East. Along the way in this touching film, the two drive each other completely crazy, break a small handful of laws, narrowly evade death, and learn to let down their guards to have a fighting chance of finding happiness.
Lulu, Head Animal Trainer Andrew Simpson shared in the featurette, "is at the tip of the spear of the most elite combat unit in the world," and is a breed associated with "the military, security services, Navy SEALS." Simpson also called the breed "very hard core."
Tatum stressed that "they're incredibly smart and they love working, but sometimes they're not the best family dogs."
In fact, as Simpson explained, the breed goes by the nickname of 'Maligator,' since they have a bite like an alligator. However, Tatum did work carefully enough with the dogs and retired army rangers who are also fully trained dog handlers. Fellow co-director, Reid Carolin, said he was "insane proud" to work with members of the military on the project.
Tatum started working with the dogs nine months before filming so as to have that bond. "And we had to really be careful, 'cause I had to have enough of a bond with them so that I didn't get bit in the face," Tatum shared. While he said he "thankfully I had never took a full bite," he did share that "Brita [one of the dogs] did nip me" and he still "has a scar, on my butt cheek."
Unlike other films where trainers are present, the desire for "DOG" was to be able to include wide shots, and so Tatum became something of a trainer himself.
One could see the care and attention he put into that bond with the dogs, especially when it comes to scenes where he had to yell at Lulu. "It was kind of tough, there's a scene where I run out to the car and I have to scream like, you know, 'what do you want,' and she was just like 'why am I getting yelled at,' and I was like, it broke my heart," Tatum laughed. "So like after every one of those scenes I would have to go over and be like 'no, you're my friend.'"
Tatum concluded by adamantly saying he would do another movie with dogs again, calling them extraordinary.
The featurette is below.