KIM LINDEMOEN, a top Movie and TV series dog trainer, shares training secrets and great moments on the set.
Exclusive Interview with a Top Movie & TV Dog Stars Trainer
Kim Lindemoen has trained, groomed, and provided animals for commercials, TV shows, and Movies including Happy Days, Mork and Mindy, Days of our Lives, La Bamba, Jake and The Fat Man, and Honkey Tonk Man. Her agency was started in 1972.
BJ: We are honored that you will share the knowledge you’ve gained over the last fifty years in training animals. So tell us first, what was the most embarrassing training mishap?
KL: Two Standard Poodles we worked with Susanne Somers in Rich Men Single Women and we were in the Coconut Grove. They had an invisible line hooked to her skirt and she had two Standard Poodles on the end of the lead and she was supposed to take them out on the stage (in front of a full audience) and they had to gait at the end of the lead and then they had to pull and when they pulled, of course, they ripped her skirt off. LOL but what wasn’t planned … we had two male dogs that were neutered and for some reason, they got excited in front of this full audience, and when they got in front to do the pulling, the skirt went off but the dogs started humping each other. It was the most embarrassing; it was like why were they doing this? The best trained dogs
BJ: How do you get a dog to slobber up and then sling it like Turner and Hooch?
KL: They use egg whites and they slather them up for the slobber but the dog had to be taught to shake his head on cue because if he didn’t, it would have been just slobber, not nearly as funny. So that was part of the training and it can take a very long time to teach. It looks like the dog just does it but there’s a lot of training behind what a dog does.
BJ: Have there been any dogs that just didn’t like the actor that they had to be with and if so, what did you do about it?
KL: Yeah. We worked with one on the old “A-Team” and we worked a chimp and the girl said that that she loved animals and she could work with a baby chimp with no problem but when we got there she was afraid of the chimp. Animals sense when people fear them so we couldn’t get the baby chimp next to her and it took the entire day because of the (fear) smell. We got there at 6 o’clock in the morning but it was 8 o’clock at night before they could shoot it.
Then the other one was a dog that was on “Night Court” with John Larroquette and you know how people like to blow in a dogs face? Well he blew in my little Maltese’s face and he didn’t think it was so funny when she started growling at him. Then the director came in and said, “Why is the dog growling at John?” and I said “well, he was sitting there sort of teasing the dog and he blew in his face and the dog didn’t like it. The director asked, “What are you going to do to make the dog like it?” I told him we’re going to have to work with John being nice to the dog and use food but the director said we don’t have the time. I said “Well the dog doesn’t work like that; he doesn’t like him so you’re going to have to use food and we’ll have to do it gradually.”
So we ended up using the food but it took time and they had to do to other shots first before they could do that one and actually, what ended up happening is he still growled at him in the close-up so they wrote that in and gave him another line to say. Even with food, the dog still didn’t trust him, you know what I mean? He was a good little dog, he worked with a lot of different people, but if a person does something that frightens or scares the dog, it is very hard to tell the dog it’s O.K., he’s not going to do that to you again.
BJ: What’s the most dangerous stunt that you’ve had to teach a dog to do?
KL: I didn’t have stunt dogs but I think the hardest was with a Wire Hair Fox Terrier that had to work on “Journey To The Center of The Earth.” It was a remake of the original, and we had to work with emus and they are crazy. The terrier was very interested in going after the emus. So here we are, like up in the air and there were cliffs that went straight down, you know, they were sets. We had to end up running lines (there was an invisible line that was very heavy on the dog) and putting him in an eyehook. When they filmed it, it looked like the dog was there but to keep him there when they turned the emus loose, it was crazy; the birds kick, lights were flying, you can’t put light down with emus, they run when they’re scared, it was very scary but we got the dog’s part filmed because we had the line tethered so they had to stop, they had to superimposed, because it was so crazy.
BJ: What was the most involved scene that you had to prepare a dog for?
KL: “Something About Mary” with Cameron Diaz. That was with Slammer. She was my little Border Terrier, in fact I just lost her, she was thirteen and a half years old. We had to teach her to kiss the woman in the face, I can’t think of her name, but she had to lick the lady’s face. Well dogs lick but they’ll stop, so I had to train her to keep licking and licking and licking, without stopping. So when they did the movie, she was very good with dogs and she liked them, so when Slammer started kissing her face, she got really involved in it and wouldn’t stop and they were hysterical laughing on the set, like ‘how can she do this?’
Then we had another scene where she’s sitting on the ground and Ben Stiller opens the door, and they say what kind of dog is this, and he goes, it’s a Border Terrier and he opens the door and says “what a cute little dog you are” and she has to jump from the floor and was supposed to land on his chest and knock him down but she missed. Slammer was short, couldn’t hit the chest and so she hit his crotch, I mean she’s a little dog, she can’t jump that high. So we had things built to help her to jump higher. Then when they went to shoot the movie, she was on a ramp but she had to jump from the floor, well when she did it they didn’t use a stunt double, they actually used Ben Stiller and it was hysterical. When they did the cut and she did it, they were like oh my God, and Ben caught her and she was hanging there and then they cut in the fake dog flippin’ it around.
But it was very difficult with the jumping scene and then she had to do the pant leg thing where they had scripted the movie using a poodle but she was the only one that could do his pant leg. Ben Stiller would tease her and say “oh you bad dog” and they had a stuntman come in. But she went crazy when she saw Ben, and usually stars don’t do stunts but he did the stunt where she attacked the leg, and he would just aggravate her and she would just rip up his leg. To do a pant leg, most of the dogs in Hollywood that do pant leg scenes, just grab and they kind of hold on but in that movie the hardest thing was because she COULD NOT let go of that leg. She had to do it. And she literally ripped the pants off him!
BJ: Who picks the breed of a dog for a movie part, if it has to be a purebred?
KL: The producer.
BJ: You are a full service grooming facility and I had to laugh because handlers will want to know your secrets for coloring a dog…what’s your secret?
KL: In the old days we used Fanciful rinse, then we went to a lot of food coloring. A lot of food coloring…
BJ: You work with everything from horses to cows and goats to a 43” Iguana?
KL: Yes, the Iguanas are like nothing because they don’t move. They’re just there. Actually in one scene they wanted the Iguana to go from point A to point B and of course they don’t move, they just kind of bask. But when the lights get really warm, they kind of come to life but when they move they’re not going to go from A to B … so they ended up putting the Iguana on a mop and then they just moved the mop and the Iguana just stayed on it.
BJ: What do you think is the hardest species to train?
KL: I would say a cow.
BJ: What’s the riskiest species to work with?
KL: Snakes. Because when you use them, you have to make sure that they’ve eaten and it’s a period of time on different shows. A lot of the shows, we get calls for snakes, the boa constrictors and stuff like that. My friend does rattle snakes and we would hire him just to do rattlesnakes. They were the riskiest because you never knew… and in handling them and keeping them so long in a scene, they get irritated, so they were the most stressful when we used a snake.
BJ: What is the most reliable performer as far as a species?
KL: The goat.
BJ: A Goat? You’re kidding (no pun intended!)
KL: No, it’s because they eat constantly. Constantly! And in the picture business you got to make them go to point A to B and in different directions, but all you have to do is take their food. I worked one on “Winds Of War” and they wanted him to pull off the tablecloth and then they changed the scene, they said, “No we don’t want to pull off the tablecloth.” Well I had put his food up there and, his name was Rocky, we went in there and Rocky was supposed to go over to the table and just stand there he was well trained… he grabbed the tablecloth, it was a beautifully set table with beautiful dishes and everything and although it was a big scene in the movie, they had to cut the disaster scene where he pulled the tablecloth.
BJ: What was Peter Faulk like to work with on the “Columbo” set?
KL: I had a Bassett Hound on it and my dogs were like push button, for me. But when we worked on the set with him, he didn’t want the trainer there. Okay, so we gave him the animal, he was very quite, he took the dog and he worked it the way he wanted to do it! My dogs were trained but they weren’t like, “just give him the dog” yet if he wanted her to get up on a chair, she would go up and do anything - he just had to point. Mr. Faulk was very quite and a very serious worker and there was really no chats.
BJ: I have to ask about Betty White since she’s so famous in her love for animals. Do you know by chance what her favorite pet was?
KL: She did send me a picture of her dogs and she has a Golden Retriever and a cat and she has a little dog, maybe a ShihTzu, I’m not sure of the breed, but its name is Panda and her cat was Bobcat. She just loved everything. She worked with my Chihuahua and she was the kindest most considerate woman in the world. And she absolutely looked out for the welfare of the animals.
BJ: That’s interesting because you never know if they’re just putting out a persona or what. So she’s real! And Kim, I have to know, what kind is that huge cat that’s sitting on the horse or whatever it was in “Teeder Jr. and Hubart”?
KL: Teeder was my Chow, I had the grooming shop, and one day I was going into the shop and I heard him like choking and he had this little kitten and he was trying to swallow it and I pulled it out of his mouth, and it was actually just a Heinz 57 kitty. I kept him from a kitty and raised him with all my dogs, except for the Chow... Now the little dog Hubart was the Maltese. He was the one I used on “Night Court” that I told you didn’t like John Larroquette.
BJ: Can anyone bring their dogs to you to be taught special tricks?
KL: I don’t do private training anymore but I used to teach the classes and we would have people that were just trying to train their pets. We always taught them how to give their paw and then I had a neighbor who was unable, in a chair because of his legs, and so we taught his dog to retrieve things for him, like bring him the paper. He was a Labrador. I usually don’t take dogs to do special tricks because most of mine are involved in the other training on the set.
BJ: When you were doing the classes and private training, was it terribly expensive? I know you’re in the expense capitol of the world.
KL: When we were doing the classes, they really weren’t that expensive back then, things have changed through the years. Private training was like $100 per hour back when I used to do it. I took the dog and I worked and I had to start from scratch, they had no training at all. The classes weren’t that expensive because people brought their animals and we did it in groups.
BJ: Having retired from the movie industry what are your plans for the future?
KL: Going to dog shows and helping the novices with their Bulldogs. The Bulldogs are my life. I just love them and I love the people because they love their dogs so much. So we plan to travel and go to shows. I’m not training now but people are interested in learning about their Bulldogs and I have expertise in that too.
BJ: Thank you for sharing so much with our readers. It has been a fun interview and enlightening too.
Visit Kim’s website at http://www.movieanimals.com
Kim Lindemoen, Bulldog Breeder Interview, Kim has been in Bulldogs since the 1960's and in addition to occasional litters, she trained English Bulldogs for movies and television.