Saturday, March 20, 2010

Sammy's Shadow

In 1958, Walt Disney productions was making its first live-action feature comedy based on the novel The Hound of Florence (1930) by Felix Salten (most famous for writing Bambi).

In the novel, a young Austrian, yearning for immortality as an artist, is granted a wish that turns him onto a dog, enabling him to make the journey to Italy in pursuit of his dream.

In the movie, Wilby Daniels, a teenage boy is transformed into a Old English Sheepdog by a spelled ring of the Borgias.

Disney productions needed an english sheep dog to play the old english sheep dog. Sammy's Shadow won the part. Sammy's Shadow was an English Sheep Dog born to Ch Norval Pride King (sire) and Ch Lillibrad Lindy Lou (Dam).

Now that they had their english sheep dog. Disney needed a trainer They turned to William Koehler. This would be the beginning of a long association between Disney and Koehler.

Koehler developed the Koehler Method of Dog Training, a training approach based on the premise that dogs will make their own decisions. This training method is used frequently by law enforcement and the military.

William Koehler had been a dog trainer during World War II. He trained more than 25,000 dogs for the war.

William Koehler trained animals for Disney productions during the 1950s and 1960s. He worked with animals on films such as The Incredible Journey (1963) Big Red (1962), That Darn Cat (1965), and The Ugly Dachshund (1966).

Sammy's Shadow only appeared in one movie but he became an instant star. In 1959, he was voted top movie animal star of the year. He also won the PATSY award for his performance.

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