Take the Doggie, Take the Doggie

It was probably the most memorable, comical – and horrifying –  scene in the 2009 Sandra Bullock/Ryan Reynolds movie, “The Proposal.” Bullock’s character attempts to sacrifice “Kevin,” the family American Eskimo Dog puppy, to a hungry eagle after it takes off with her cell phone. Check it out below:

In reality, however, Bullock would wrap the pup in her bath robe between takes and apologize to him profusely, promising the puppy that she wasn’t really going to hurt him. HumaneHollywood.org reported on how the scene was shot:

“For the scene, which was filmed in separate shots, two live eagles were used, although never at the same time as the dog. First, trainers cued the dog to walk around, pace and bark. Then, the dog was removed from the set and a trained eagle was used for the live eagle action. The trainer, with the eagle on his arm, walked up a ladder and set the bird on its mark on a tree branch. The eagle had a tether attached to leather straps on its ankles, and a second trainer held the tether and whistled for the eagle to fly to his arm. This action was filmed a couple of times. The bird was rested and given treats after each take. A sack that would be “invisible” against a green screen was placed on a custom-made stand on the ground, and the eagle was cued to fly down, grab the sack and fly back up, all while trainers controlled the tether. The sack was then replaced with “Kevin” in post-production. During some takes, the sack was replaced with a stuffed prop dog. All these shots were edited together to make it appear as if the eagle snatched up the dog mid-flight, but the dog and eagle were never actually in the scene together. Part of the scene in which the eagle flew around with the dog in its mouth was achieved using prop claws holding a stuffed prop dog, filmed against a blue screen. The dog that the eagle “dropped” into Margaret’s arms was a stuffed prop.”

Bullock had been well rehearsed on how to hold the dog and run with him in the scene in which “Margaret” offers the puppy to the eagle. The eagle hovering above was digitally added in post-production. For curious birders, by the way, the eagle was an Australian Wedged-tailed Eagle.

In real life, “Kevin” was portrayed by four different pooches: Flurry, Sitka, Nanu and Winter. “Flurry,” however, was the favorite among the cast and crew, and even formed a special bond with the film’s leading lady. “The Proposal,” wasn’t the pups’ first appearance in a movie. They also appeared in the kids’ film, “Hotel For Dogs” with Emma Roberts. When not working in Hollywood, the Eskies live in Los Angeles with their trainers.

Now, for a question a lot of people asked after the movie came out. Could a bird of prey actually abscond with a puppy as seen in the movie?  We consulted the Alaska Department of Fish and Game and learned that the answer is, “It depends.”

Lifting a weight, such as a puppy, is dependent not only on a bird’s wing size, but on its airspeed. The faster a bird is flying, the greater the lift potential. An eagle that lands on the beach to grab a fish, and then takes off again, is limited to a smaller load than an eagle that swoops down at 20 or 30 miles an hour and snatches up a fish. That momentum and speed gives the bird the ability to carry more weight. An eagle with a full head of steam could easily pick up a six to eight pound dog and just keep on going. If it tried to pick up the same weight from a dead stop, it likely couldn’t.


3 thoughts on “Take the Doggie, Take the Doggie”

  1. I know of 2 dogs taken by 2 different wedge tails, a miniature Pinscher and a miniature fox terrier. Breeders in Australia who live rurally are aware of eagle issues and take precautions.

  2. Thank you for this thorough explanation. I have watched this movie 3 times and each time I watch this scene very carefully trying to see if the dog is used in the scene with the (oddly non-Alaskan eagle) and i there are certain parts of the scene with such excellent effects that it looks like it is the real dog. I am so relieved to read how they did this.

    • We completely understand. Chuckle, if we know a dog is in a movie, we are compelled to ask someone who has seen it if the dog ends up ok. We just can’t watch if a dog is harmed even for “pretend.” Just can’t do it.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *