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102 DALMATIANS

The Animals

It was in 1998 that the industry's most respected animal trainer, Gary Gero, was first contacted about the possibility of a sequel to Walt Disney Pictures' live action feature "101 Dalmatians."

"The studio consulted me at an early stage. I think at that time there was talk of using black dogs with white spots. Everyone had learned from the first film the differences in training different breeds and puppies, as opposed to adult dogs and so I was very involved with the script from the beginning," says Gero.

Gero's work on the film began in earnest at the beginning of May 1999 when he first arrived in England. It was at this point that he and his team of top trainers began recruiting and training adult dogs to play the lead characters and started planning for puppies.

"We knew that this was going to be a much more demanding film than the first one, in that there are a lot more animal characters with a greater amount to do. As well as the two adult Dalmatians, we were looking at three other hero dogs, a bird and puppies, all of which were central to the story," Gero explains.

The casting of the adult Dalmatians, who were to play Dottie and Dipstick, was one of the most straightforward elements for the animal team. All the Dalmatians used to play Pongo and Perdy in "101 Dalmatians" had returned to the U.S. on completion of filming, to live with Gary and their trainers. So, Gary simply brought back Freckles and Maisie to star in the sequel.

"We also acquired Kita in Britain to play Dottie, alongside Maisie. She turned out to be a really good dog, so the adult Dalmatians posed the least problems," he continues.

The next consideration was the casting of the dogs to play the dog shelter's lead characters Chomp, Drooler and Digger and also the bird to play Waddlesworth.

Gero acquired the Border Terriers to play Chomp and the Bullmastiffs to play Drooler before director Kevin Lima joined the project. As he explains, "I needed to start training and took a risk in casting and buying these dogs, but luckily Kevin liked them. The only one we did change was Digger. I cast a small dog, but Kevin wanted a different look, so we chose a Borzoi."

Gero bought all adult dogs featured in "102 Dalmatians" for the production. Gero explains, "You can't expect someone to lend their pet to a production for the best part of a year, so you have to buy the dogs. This comes about in two ways. Either, the dog is a pet and there is a change of circumstance, such as a divorce, moving to a smaller house or in one case, we acquired one of our lead dogs from a lady whose husband had died and could not cope. Or the dog is someone's business. Perhaps they tried breeding the dog and the puppies didn't come up to scratch."

The dogs weren't in rescue homes as such, but as Gero points out, "If it hadn't been for the production, they certainly could've ended up that way."

All adult dogs bought by Gero for the production have since returned to the U.S. and, like their friends in "101 Dalmatians," will spend the rest of their days living with the trainers who have grown to love them.

In addition to the casting of the adult dogs, Kevin Lima also gave Gero the challenge of finding a bird to play the character of Waddlesworth

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