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THE BACK-UP PLAN

Hudson Mutts And The Production Goes Nuts
"Since Zoe meets Stan early in the first act, our only real window into what her daily life was before Stan is reflected in her pet store, Hudson Mutts,” explains Poul.

Zoe had been a successful executive for a prominent web company before giving the job up for a more meaningful career as the owner of a socially conscious pet store. Zoe refuses to sell bred puppies, instead catering solely to pet adoptions. Zoe's idea to buy the pet store came about after she bought a disabled puppy from a pet store and later discovered they sold her a puppy from a puppy mill.

"Buying Hudson Mutts is a turning point for her,” remarks Lopez. "It causes her to realize she wants a child, someone with which to share this new, meaningful part of her life.”

For Hammond, Hudson Mutts' design would have to reflect Zoe's new take on life – particularly in its color scheme. "Zoe's lifestyle is not as sophisticated as when she was in her old job. That would naturally translate in the pet store she has created. So we used blues and oranges and purples and made Hudson Mutts a very lively place.” Hammond also peppered the set with Humane Society material and organic pet products to emphasize the store's, and Zoe's, commitment to healthy pet care.

Hudson Mutts is also a hip Greenwich Village gathering place. Making it a social environment created a setting for fun interactions between Zoe and employees Clive and Daphne. In the film, the pet store also hosts a book signing event which allowed for a cameo by world famous ‘Dog Whisperer' Cesar Millan.

Hudson Mutts reflects Zoe's love for animals, namely her own. Enter Nuts – Zoe's wheelchair-bound dog.

"This dog is the best,” remarks Lopez. "Even though Nuts is handicapped, Zoe treats him like he's normal. She's tough on him and she loves him. She's always there for him.” It's definitely a loving relationship between owner and dog but it also has moments of push and pull. In the bathroom scene where Zoe learns she's pregnant, the news only comes after she has to fight Nuts, tug-of-war style, for her pregnancy test, which he has decided to use as a chew toy.

Three rescued Boston Terriers – named Nip, Tuck and Nubbins – were used to portray Nuts. "In order to train the dogs to do all they had to do, we had to go with completely healthy dogs,” reveals Poul. The dogs were trained over a number of weeks by Marley & Me trainer April Macklin.

Though Nuts only gives the illusion of a handicapped dog, the director appreciated the opportunity to put the puppy mill message on screen. The message is serious but, as Poul notes, "Nuts provides a lot of comedy in the film. He has a big role - he's one of the go-to characters for funny!”

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