'The Back-Up Plan' Required One J.Lo, Several Dogs
"A lot of times you'll have back-ups that look similar, so you can interchange them," American Humane senior safety representative Beth Langhorst tells PEOPLEPets.com. "They're like stunt doubles. Some dogs like to run a little more, some like to be held. So directors can work with each dog's natural abilities."
Though Nuts is portrayed as a special-needs dog in the movie, Langhorst says none of the pups that played him required assistance. "The wheelchair isn't for real. It was specially-made, and had a back panel platform for the dogs' back legs to rest on," she explains. Dogs were taught to walk with the contraption before filming began, and rewarded with plenty of treats for their efforts.
Langhorst, whose job was to monitor the treatment of the furry stars, says everyone on set was "dog-oriented. They'd make sure not to call the dogs to set unless they were ready to go with the shoot." And the movie's star, Jennifer Lopez, took good care of her little castmates, as well. "She spent a lot of time with them and really got them to bond with her," Langhorst shares. "She wanted the audience to believe Nuts was really her dog."
To further promote that dog-friendly vibe, organizers from American Humane and The Back-Up Plan teamed up to sponsor adoption drives around the country earlier this month, with adopters receiving discounts on pets, and free gear from the movie. At the Denver Dumb Friends League alone, 306 needy pets were placed with loving families. Twelve other shelters also reported great success with the drive.
The Back-Up Plan opens in theaters nationwide today.
Meet more movie pups on PEOPLEPets.com:
How Dogs Ruled on the Set of 'Hachi: A Dog's Tale'
Behind the Scenes With The 'Hotel For Dogs' Trainer