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Local Dogs Star With Rockwell, Fonda, Liotta

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LAURA DUKES
The Frederick News-Post

FREDERICK, Md. (AP) — Frederick residents Theresa Currier and Paul Jantzen live with movie scene stealers.

Their German shepherds, half brothers Koni and Ullok, appear in the movie “Better Living Through Chemistry,” staring Sam Rockwell, Olivia Wilde, Jane Fonda, Ray Liotta and Michelle Monaghan, which opened Friday in theaters. The movie was produced by Mission Films and was filmed in Severna Park.

Currier learned of the movie through a friend who knew someone who worked for the organization Positive Dog Training and Animal Actors of Silver Spring. She said the movie producers were looking for black and tan German shepherds who were well trained and would be trusting toward the actors.

Because both Koni and Ullok are trained in Schutzhund, Currier knew they would be perfect for the roles. Schutzhund is German for “protective dog” and encompasses high-level obedience, tracking and protective skills. She said in England, German shepherds must be trained in this prior to breeding.

When she learned about the movie, Currier was more excited for her dog than star-struck.

“I don’t really watch movies or TV much, but I was excited for him. I felt like he could put all of his training to use,” said Currier, who works as a dog groomer in Bethesda.

Wilde and Liotta play a very wealthy married couple in the film, and Wilde becomes addicted to prescription pills and has an affair with her pharmacist, played by Rockwell. Koni and Ullok play Wilde and Liotta’s dogs, and at one point chase Rockwell’s stunt double around the house.

“Sam loved Koni,” Currier said, calling Wilde “really, really nice.”

The dogs filmed their portion of the movie in May 2012. Currier didn’t know what caused the delay in the movie’s release.

For Koni’s audition, he had to follow certain commands without her in the room. One of the commands was to look ferocious, and Koni was able to do just that, Currier said.

“There were four men there, and they were like, `OK, that’s enough, we got it,”‘ she said. “(Koni’s) an actor, that’s for sure.”

Jantzen was pleasantly surprised by how well Koni and Ullok got along during filming.

“Everybody was really happy with the performance of the dogs,” Jantzen said. “Some people say `Don’t work with kids and animals,’ but the dogs did really well.”

He and Currier met through Schutzhund competitions in which they entered their dogs. At the competitions, they realized their dogs had the same breeder.

And they both said if the opportunity came, they’d love their dogs to be in other movies.

“It was so much fun,” Jantzen said.

Currier was surprised by the amount of time it took to shoot one scene. At one point it, took three hours just to get porch lighting right, she said, although it didn’t faze Koni.

“Koni’s like, `Whatever. There’s all these people here, there’s another dog here, what do you want me to do?”‘ Currier said.

She wasn’t sure what theaters would show the movie, but she and Jantzen hope to plan an outing to see it with friends.

(Copyright 2013 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)

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