One of the most read posts in the history of German Shepherd Adventures, is titled “The Most Dangerous German Shepherd In the World.” https://germanshepherdadventures.wordpress.com/2012/01/22/the-most-dangerous-german-shepherd-in-the-world/ With the release of the movie, “Max” only days away, now seems a fitting time to reprise that post. (I was fortunate enough to be invited to a pre-screening of the movie this week by the great people at “Priority One Canine”, Wade and Lori Morrell. Thanks so much!!)
First off, this will not be a movie review. Truth be told, I haven’t paid to see a movie in almost 4 years. The only plans that I have to go to a movie theater in the future, is to see the new Star Wars in what? December 2015? Just hasn’t been anything worth wasting $15.00 on in about that long. My life has enough real excitement to keep me from depending on Hollywood knuckleheads for a vicarious thrill. And there’s still a whole pile of books to be read, that allow my mental picture to form whatever it wants. To Each His Own…
With that off my chest, I did see “Max”. And I thought in turn the story was very well told. The writing was very good, the plot was plausible, and the acting wasn’t bad. The action was very good, and the dog(s) were very well trained. (Excepting for some miraculous trailing/tracking that strained credulity.) And you know what? That’s okay. Because it’s H. o .l .l. y .w. o .o .d. A fictionalized story. That’s right, it’s not real.
I know that there are many dog people out there saying that they don’t like this movie because it’s going to cause harm to the Malinois, owing to the sudden rush of sheople that will now make the breed highly desirable to own. I don’t disagree with that sentiment, but I also think that there’s a better way to deal with the problem.
First, Breeders, Trainers, and Handlers of working dogs need to arm ourselves with solid, factual, information. We need to help people understand the blood, sweat, and tears that go with training and managing such a dog. We know what it takes to raise, train, and live with one of these 4-legged tornadoes. The dogs in the movie were well-trained, and no doubt had many “Takes”, to get it just right for the big screen. Computer Generated effects were no doubt implemented as well, adding to the excitement level and possibilities in the action. We MUST emphasize how much time and serious money goes into the training and preparation of a properly trained Malinois, Dutch or German Shepherd. (or any other working dog!)
Breeders of Working dogs also have the ability to say “No, thank you”, to prospective buyers. I know you didn’t plan on getting rich from breeding dogs, if you are doing it properly. It’s a break even project if you’re very fortunate at best. Handlers and trainers also share the onus of “demonstrating” to the public what we do, why we do it, and why it’s so engrossing. We need to work more closely with the public when possible. We’ll accomplish at least two things. 1) People that suddenly think that they need such a dog in their life will realize that they just don’t have the skillset or the situation to deal with such a dog. Thus preventing them from starting something they can’t finish. 2) Well placed education might also help our sport and disciplines to grow in the public eye. Think of this in terms that you’ll understand…All of us, and I mean ALL of us, started out ignorant and inexperienced with working dogs. Ivan Balabanov, Michael Ellis, Andrew Ramsey, Wade Morrell, Dean Calderon, and Brian Harvey ALL started out that way. They all had, and have Mentors. They have all become Mentors in turn. Now THAT’S what we need in Dog Work. More well-trained and knowledgable people with solid foundations and good experience can only do us credit. Wouldn’t it be really, really, cool to see IPO, or Ringsport events on television? Its going to require a lot more people being involved or interested to make that happen. If a person becomes interested in IPO because of a movie, isn’t that okay? How did you get interested? If those of us already involved, help newcomers along the dogpath, that’s positive. I can tell you the exact moment that I knew I was going to pursue canine work. I had a chance encounter with a great trainer named Amy Revta-Richardson and her GSD “Saber” at a public festival. She gave me the “Speech” about what working dogs involved, in detail, but she also took the opportunity to express how much satisfaction and enjoyment they brought into your life. I never forgot her generosity in time or instruction. She’s still helping me out today…
Without further ado, allow me to tell you how I plan to handle questions and concerns about the movie “Max”…
1) I will tell anyone that asks, that it’s “just a movie.” It does not tell anything about training and discipline that went into the dog. The expense in time and filthy lucre was never mentioned. (There’s ALOT of both). Having a dog of this type will be a Life-Changing responsibility.
2) If an individual persists in their interest, I will privately give them an opportunity to experience my own dogs. Not only what they can do, but what it took to get them there.
3) I will insist that they come to a couple of club level events with more “dog-nuts”. People that have been thru the process of raising and training a working dog. I want them to hear everything. I want them to LEARN. If they want to continue, they’re probably already one of us. At that point, after several weeks or months, of patient exposure, I’ll turn them over to a reputable breeder that I hope will continue the education, development and involvement for that individual. If that person is really determined, and you place a pup with them, I hope you will follow thru and be sure that they become involved with a good, solid, Trainer. The sky is the limit when the process is followed faithfully by us all.
In conclusion, “Max” is just a movie, created and made by people who make a living telling stories. It’s well-done as a movie, and a story. But its not going to destroy the Malinois, or Dog work. Not as long as though of us already fussing and fretting over it, take the leash into our hands and put the latest craze into a long down-stay and do our part to help others.
The most dangerous Malinois in the world, is the one that WE don’t help.