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HOTEL FOR DOGS

The Hotel 'Guests'
Andi and Bruce's beloved Friday is tough for them to keep under wraps. Friday's inability to resist any kind of food makes him conspicuous at extremely inconvenient moments. "Friday always wants to eat and has a very strong will. If you tell him no, he goes for what he wants anyway,” says Freudenthal. "This constantly gets the kids in trouble, but ultimately, he's the harbinger of good fortune.”

"I love all the dogs in "Hotel for Dogs” and there are lots of them,” says Reitman. "But Friday is probably my favorite. He has this wonderful intelligence in his eyes.”

The canine actor playing Friday is actually a rescue dog named Cosmo. "We tried to use as many rescues as possible and then find homes for them,” says Shuler Donner. "We wanted dogs that would connect. We were looking for dogs with the most personality, the most interesting quirks, not the most beautiful.”

Those "quirks” helped to create characters with their own distinct personalities. Since the filmmakers had decided against using any special effects, the challenge was finding different ways to distinguish the dogs from each other. "The question we asked ourselves was, how can we take the audience on a journey where we meet distinct characters who don't speak throughout the movie?” recalls producer Clark. "Recognition and believability were important to us. We wanted the dogs to show who they really are, real animals with strong characters.”

To prepare the canines for their complicated roles and stunts, Mark Forbes of Birds and Animals Unlimited, one of Hollywood's premier trainers, was brought on board. Forbes appreciated the story's acknowledgment of the strong connection between people and animals. But he was also aware of the challenges the film would present.

"When I read the script for the first time, my initial reaction was both sheer terror and excitement, because I knew it would be a really fun project to work on,” says Forbes. "It is a great story about making a place for yourself and your loved ones in the world.”

In addition to Friday, several other dogs become permanent "guests” at the hotel. The filmmakers selected nine "hero” dogs to play these key roles. Lenny and Georgia are the original inhabitants of the hotel. Lenny, a 160- pound Bull Mastiff, is a gentle giant who watches over Georgia, a feisty Boston Terrier who is small in size but large in personality. The dogs' personal quirks inspire Andi and Bruce to come up with novel ways to entertain them.

"Lenny's biggest concern is that he get a view of the outside world, so he always wants the windows open,” explains Forbes. "If Lenny doesn't have a view or an open window, he starts howling, which jeopardizes the secrecy of the whole operation.”

Georgia, Lenny's partner-in-crime, is a compulsive fetcher. "Georgia must always be chasing after something, picking it up and bringing it back to somebody so they can throw it again,” says the trainer. "Bruce ends up inventing a fetching machine for her so she can play all day long.”

"Georgia seems to be the kids' favorites because she's cute and little and she'll fetch anything,” says Shuler Donner. "She's got a really sweet face and a personality to go with it.”

Cooper, Shep and Romeo, the three dogs from the pet store that Dave begs Andi to adopt, each have their own peculiar habits that have prevented them from finding homes. Cooper, an English Bulldog with loads of personality, compulsively chews up anything in sight. "Cooper will chew drywall, license plates, shoes, you name it,” explains Forbes. "He'll chew his way out of his crate.”

Reitman describes Cooper as the natural comedian of the pack. "There's just such a scale to him – his weight and the jowliness of his face make me laugh every time I see him.”

Cooper seems destined to win

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