Crockdur, Hagrid’s dog in Harry Potter, has arrived on the big screen (and settled in the hearts of millions of viewers and fans of the saga, but also of the entire film cast) thanks to animal trainer Julie Tottman, who never doubted the potential of a Neapolitan Mastiff named Monkey, despite the fact that life was not easy for both of them.

According to The Sun, Mr. Tottman that she had a special bond with the dog from the first moment she saw him. “I had an immediate connection with him. When I found him, he was desperately malnourished and in need of love and attention. I had no idea if that would make him a good dog for the film, but I knew I couldn’t stop trying,” said the trainer, who has also “found” the perfect animals to play roles in ‘Game of Thrones’ and ‘101 Dalmatians.’

Julie Tottman was the main trainer of the animals in the ‘Harry Potter’ saga. Between 2000 and 2011, she trained over 250 animals, from owls to cats and even spiders. However, she was won over by Crockdur, Hagrid’s dog, played by the late Robbie Coltrane, when their destinies crossed at an animal welfare charity a few weeks before filming began on one of the films based on the characters. books by the British writer JK Rowling.

Abe playing Crockdur © Warner Bros.

Crockdur did not have an easy life

Indeed, Monkey has not had an easy life. The trainer tells in one of her books (Rescue Me) how she managed to transform an abused, rebellious and hungry dog ​​into a movie star.

Monkey is the Neapolitan Mastiff who played the role of Crockdur from the fourth episode of the saga. In the first three films, Hugo, another dog of the same breed, played the role. But a few weeks before filming for ‘Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire’ began, the dog trainer decided to retire Hugo.

According to Julie Tottman, it is not easy to find a dog with these characteristics because it is a rare breed and some dogs are not easy to work with. The trainer also tries to use rescued animals whenever possible to give them a second chance, a better life.

Therefore, as time played against her, Julie Tottman started an obstacle course by contacting various dog rescue organizations.

”I’ve always tried to use rescue animals for films….. It breaks my heart to think of the cruelty and neglect humans can inflict on animals, but regardless of the horrors a creature has been through, it’s a little kindness and caution. training can make them stars,” the coach said.

It was not easy to find Crockdur

After weeks of searching for the “perfect” dog, Tottman was lucky enough to find an association that specialized in rescuing mastiffs. They had a Neapolitan Mastiff there, the same blue color as Hugo, the first dog to play Crockdur.

But the good news had a flip side: its previous owner had abandoned it on the grounds that it was aggressive, a trait that made it unsuitable for a shoot full of children.

But the trainer let her instincts guide her and decided to take the dog (whose name was Hercules at the time) to start working with him. She was very aware that she wanted to give him another chance because, as she explains in her book, many owners say that the dog is aggressive, but that is just an excuse to get angry.

As soon as she saw Abe when she renamed him, she knew she had been right. The doggy would do that.

A bag of bones

But despite his energy and joie de vivre, the dog was in a pitiable state. As Tottman recalls in his manuscript: “He was incredibly thin, like a bag of bones (…) It broke my heart to see how starved and abandoned he must have been by his previous owners.”

After several days of living with Monkey, whom she named after his “vicious and naughty nature”, she realized that he was not aggressive at all. Just like she had felt the first time she saw him, it was just an excuse for his owners to abandon him. The dog was loving and affectionate.

“He looked at me with such kindness that I immediately knew that everything I had heard about his aggressive side must be wrong. I realized that he was a dog that just wanted to be loved.

Monkey was a dog that was much loved and appreciated by the cast of the Harry Potter film series. © Warner Bros.

A race against time

Seeing Monkey’s amiable and gentle nature, Tottman knew there would be no problem with the children during filming, even though time was against her for her upbringing. This recently rescued Neapolitan Mastiff needed a good diet to regain his strength, attention and a way to channel his energy.

According to the trainer, the time frame in her book from when she meets the dog, starts training him and takes him to the set is at least 12 weeks. She and Monkey arrived on the set of “Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire” at half time.

“Normally, if I was starting from scratch with a new dog, I would want to work with him for at least twelve weeks before taking him on set, starting with establishing a simple relationship before moving on to simple commands and finally to specific moves he would need for the film. The Goblet of Fire started in less than half that time,” she wrote in Rescue Me.

Monkey made the whole team happy

The trainer told in his book how Monkey went from being a “class clown” to a star who thrilled Daniel Radcliffe (Harry Potter) and Emma Watson (Hermione Granger), two of the stars of the saga.

However, that doesn’t mean there weren’t any setbacks during filming. For example, on one occasion Monkey pounced on a prized automaton, thinking it was a dog toy. Fortunately, it was just a scare and the precious accessory was not damaged too much.

“He was a big goofy dog ​​who had a knack for making you laugh,” his owner said.

A sad farewell

In 2013, Monkey died after suffering from cancer. The news came as a bit of a shock to the Harry Potter cast as he was highly regarded.

So much so that it has its own tribute at the Warner Brothers Studio Tour, near Watford (UK). In the place, a video of monkey training with Tottman is projected on a wall.

“His personality shines through on screen. Even though we had to say goodbye to him, I know he will live on for the fans and the people who remember him, and to me that’s the real magic.” his trainer and his human “mother”.

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