Meet Lulu – Channing Tatum’s co-star in Dog (the Movie), recently released in the UK and worldwide. Lulu is a Belgian Malinois Shepherd dog – the fiesty companion of a US Army Ranger Briggs (Tatum).
Dog the movie – what’s it about?
This is one good ‘ol buddy movie mixed with the well-travelled road movie theme and comedy genre. It features as its main duo – an Army Ranger and a Belgian Shepherd (Lulu). Things get off to a rough start, as they travel down the Pacific Coast in a 1984 Ford Bronco. The plan is to to attend a soldier and friend’s funeral, someone who knew both Lulu and her human companion . On their way, the two experience a whole load of highs and lows.
The film is largely the project of Channing Tatum, who acts, co-directs and produces. Originally scheduled for the middle of last year, its release was put back until this month (February 2022).
Belgian Malinois Shepherd dogs and US Military
It therefore seems as good a time as any to pay attention to The Malinois breed of shepherd dog, as featured in this movie. They have quite reputation in the US Army and Navy Seals, and are used for major operations.
Why a Belgian Shepherd?
The US army has used a variety of working breeds for different roles for quite a while. However, Mals (short for Malinois) are favoured for situations that require stamina and combat.
Highly athletic and with heaps of energy, Mals respond well to training, as long as it is dedicated and rigorous. They have great speed and endurance – qualities similarly required of human marines. Malinois can be trained to jump into water, and make excellent skydivers, being lighter than German Shepherd dogs. These animals are generally equipped with their own body armour and sometimes even night vision goggles!
Mals are also extremely protective and make great guard dogs. They are not shy of taking down someone on command and with a lot of force. As such, they are often referred to as ‘Maligators’.
Another quality of Belgian Malinoises is their ability to track scents, so much so that ISIS sent a pair of their leader’s underpants to a spy as a decoy. As well as this, they have a strong sense of independence.
Mals and training
When the trailer (below) came out, some Malinois owners commented out of concern that after seeing the movie, people might go out and get one – without realising what it entails. When they are trained for service in the US military, the dogs are put through a very intensive regime. Only a small proportion of them pass, and the rest get put up for adoption. In general and civilian life, Malinois Shepherd dogs will not be pre-trained (of course). They need a lot of motivation and a job to do. Some owners say that a Belgian Malinois puppy cannot be forced into obedience.
Lulu is played by….
Three different dogs play Lulu – Britta, Lana 5, and Zuza. Tatum’s co-director Reid Carolyn told Moviemaker.com that “Britta is in 80% of the movie. She’s our hero dog, she did most of our acting,”. Carolyn also explained that each of the dogs were assigned a different trainer. Knowing how a how high-energy they were, none thought they would be able to adopt them afterwards, and would need to consider a suitable home when the movie’s production ended.
Real life events as inspiration
While the film is not based on a true story, parts of it were inspired by real life. Tatum had a pooch named Lulu (not a Belgian Shepherd but a Pitbull) who first made her way from a dog pit in Alabama. When Lulu died in 2018, Tatum wrote on Instagram, “I’ll see you again baby girl. But you’ll always be with me. Always.”
Dog was released on February 18th
Do you own a Malinois Shepherd Dog? Feel free to let us know in the comments what training yours was like for you, and any advice you have for would-be owners.
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