The tragic true story of Hagrid’s dog Fang – who was abandoned by cruel owner before landing Harry Potter role

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HE was an unlikely movie star – a larger than life rescue dog whose owner abandoned him, claiming he was too aggressive.
But top animal flight simulator Julie Tottman spotted star quality in Neopolitan Mastiff Monkey – who went on to sprinkle some animal magic on the Harry Potter films .Monkey starred as gamekeeper Hagrid's dog Fangs from the fourth film onwards

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tamper starred as gamekeeper Hagrid ‘s andiron Fangs from the fourth film onwards
Julie, 50, who ’ mho credits include Game Of Thrones, 101 Dalmatians and several James Bond films, has written a book about how she turned starving, indocile Monkey into the pawl who played Fang in the celebrated movie franchise .
She says : “ I had an blink of an eye connection with him. When I found him he was urgently malnourished, and desperate for love and care. I had no idea if that would make him a good frump for the movie but I knew I wouldn ’ triiodothyronine be able to resist trying ! ”
As Harry Potter ’ s head animal trainer, Julie trained over 250 animals for the movie franchise between 2000 and 2011 – from owl to cats and even spiders .
One of the key animal characters is Fang, the andiron belonging to gamekeeper Hagrid, played by Robbie Coltrane .Julie likes to use rescue animals for films to give them a new life

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Julie likes to use rescue animals for films to give them a newly animation credit : Damien McFadden
When Julie rescued him he was a 'bag of bones' but quickly bulked up with regular meals

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When Julie rescued him he was a ‘bag of bones ‘ but quickly bulked up with regular meals credit : WENN
In the first three films the function was played by a Neopolitan Mastiff called Hugo, who memorably splattered presenter Fern Britton with drool during an appearance on This Morning .
But with just weeks to go before filming began on the fourth episode, Harry Potter And The Goblet of Fire, the decisiveness was taken that ageing Hugo needed to retire – leaving Julie with a big hole that needed urgently filling .
She recalled : “ I knew it would be a adult challenge to replace him in such a shortstop time frame. Neapolitan Mastiffs are a rare engender and they can be quite catchy to work with. TIme was not on our side. ”
Devoted to animal wellbeing, Julie constantly tries to use rescue animals where she can – so started by ringing round dog rescue charities. She explained : “ I always tried to cast rescue animals for movies because there are then many deserving animals languishing in shelters who are desperate for a new life sentence .
“ It breaks my affection to think of the cruelty and negligence humans can inflict on animals, but no matter what horrors a animal has endured, a bit of kindness and some careful train can turn them into stars .
Monkey became a firm favourite with the cast including Robbie Coltrane

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Monkey became a firm favorite with the form including Robbie Coltrane
Julie didn't have long to get Monkey screen-ready but still managed it

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Julie did n’t have long to get Monkey screen-ready but hush managed it credit : Damien McFadden
“ The universe writes them off, but I knew from know that rescues are frequently the hardest work, most loyal and love animals. ”

After hitting several dead ends, Julie finally struck it lucky with a specialist mastiff rescue charity who had a Neopolitan Mastiff the same blue color as Hugo. But there was one problem – his previous owner had abandoned him claiming he was aggressive, which would barely make him a adept suit for a set full of child actors .
Julie decided the cad was worth checking out anyhow. She explained : “ Often owners say a andiron is aggressive as an excuse to get rid of them. But nine times out of ten it ’ s because they weren ’ deoxythymidine monophosphate prepared for how big the pawl got or how expensive it is to feed them. People prefer to blame the dog than blame themselves. ”
equally soon as she set eyes on Monkey, then known as Hercules, Julie knew she was right to have trusted her gut .
Although full of department of energy and intent, he was in a good-for-nothing state. She recalled : “ He was incredibly skinny – short more than a bag of bones. A Neapolitan mastiff should have skin that hangs loose over the solid rock candy of their body, but this andiron ’ second folds were like old tabloid draped around his bony frame. It broke my center to see how he must have been starved and neglected by his early owners. ”Monkey had been abandoned by owners who claimed he was vicious

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Monkey had been abandoned by owners who claimed he was poisonous credit : Getty
Julie's new book details the story of Monkey and his journey to becoming a movie star

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Julie ‘s new book details the floor of Monkey and his travel to becoming a movie star
What ’ s more, it was clear Hercules was bathetic and affectionate – a far cry from the poisonous beast his former owners had made him out to be .
She added : “ He looked up at me with a expect of such gradualness that I immediately knew that any I had heard about his aggressive side must have been wrong. I could tell this was a frump who merely longed to be loved. ”
Renaming him Monkey to suit his cockamamie, brash nature, Julie decided to take him home to Tring, Hertfordshire, on the spot .
She knew he needed feeding up, attention and something to put his energy into – so the film could be just what he needed .Julie was responsible for a number of animals on the film including Crookshanks

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Julie was creditworthy for a number of animals on the film including Crookshanks credit : Damien McFadden
But it was even a race against time to get him ready .
She said : “ normally, if I was starting from rub with a new dog I ’ five hundred want at least twelve weeks working with them before taking them on set, starting by merely building a relationship before moving on to simple commands and finally the specific moves they ’ d need for the film. The Goblet of Fire started in less than half that time. ”
In her reserve, Julie describes how tamper went from course clown to a ace turn who thrilled his young co-stars, including Daniel Radcliffe, Emma Watson and Rupert Grint .
But that ’ s not to say there weren ’ t a few mishaps along the way. On one occasion, Monkey launched himself at a invaluable, anamatronic dragon – thinking it was a supersized frank plaything and not a bespeak masterpiece that had taken the prop department months to conceive .
And another scene saw him shower the whole set in drivel – after shaking his massive head at just the amiss time.

Julie said : “ He was a big, gawky lout of a dog who barely had a bent for making you laugh. ”
Monkey deplorably died in 2013 after developing cancer, but he is immortalised in the Warner Brothers Studio Tour near Watford, where a video recording showing him being put through his paces by Julie is projected onto the wall .
She says : “ His personality shines through the screen. even though we had to say goodbye to him, I know he ’ ll live on for fans and people who remember him – and that for me is the real charming. ”

  • Copyright © Julie Tottman 2021, extracted from Rescue Me published by Sphere, an imprint of Little, Brown Book Group at £9.99.
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Category : Dog

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