Dog Crazy

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Behind the Scenes of Marley & Me

Marley is actually played by 22 different dogs, reveals the movie's head animal trainer, Mark Forbes.

Why so many? "Puppies grow so fast that we needed 11 of them to film Marley's early life," says Forbes. For the adult Marley, trainers would choose from a pool of dogs depending on the mood of the scene and on which obedience skills it required.

Two dogs in particular -- Clyde and Ziggy -- played Marley at his most incorrigible. To prep them for their roles Forbes and his staff had to break most of the usual dog-training rules. "If they were jumping up, we encouraged it. If they were tearing something up, we encouraged it," Forbes says. "It was a completely different way of training."

As if there weren't enough dogs running around, both Jennifer Aniston and Owen Wilson brought their pets to the set every day, says director David Frankel. "They're both real dog people. Jen's dog, Norman, and Owen's dog, Garcia, were with us for the whole shoot, hanging out wherever we went."

All the movie dogs were better behaved than the real Marley ever was, but Clyde definitely had some of his spirit, Forbes says. In one scene Marley comes across a big Tupperware container full of dog food. "The script called for Clyde to just chew on it a little bit and leave," Forbes remembers. "But Clyde being Clyde, he started chewing on the container, tipped it over, braced it up against a wall and knocked over a whole bookshelf. We just kept rolling the camera. He finally rips the lid off it. You couldn't have trained him to do it. It was just classic."

Originally published in Ladies' Home Journal, December 2008.

 

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