APRIL 27, 2015
KY. German Shepherd has starring role in new film similar to ‘Old Yeller’
The 1957 film “Old Yeller” and the about-to-be released movie “Max” have something in common.
“‘Yeller” made grown men cry, and “Max” is going to do the same, according to Tony Richling. The film’s star, Carlos, a Belgian Malinois, was born and raised at the Richling family canine training center on Schafer Camp Road in Hawesville.
Richling has been training dogs at Liberty K9 since 2006. The film is based on a true story about a soldier killed in Afghanistan. Max was his dog, and after the soldier’s death, the Marine K9 became despondent and unable to perform his duties and was returned to the States. The soldier’s family adopts the dog.
“Max” is on Malco Cinema 16’s June 26 calendar.
Carlos was discovered by Birds & Animals Unlimited Inc. trainer Mark Forbes, Richling said. Forbes found Liberty K9 during a nationwide search for a Belgian Malinois.
“My son and I drove Carlos to California,” Richling said. “When Mark met Carlos, he fell in love with him.”
“They used five dogs in this movie, but Carlos is the lead dog,” Richling said.
An email to the Richling family from Jennifer Henderson at Birds & Animals summed up the company’s affection for Carlos: “We love Carlos. Can you please bring us 2 more Malinois exactly like him. Seriously, if you see or hear of any dogs that are as handsome as he is, we’d love to have them. Even if they’re three-fourths as handsome as he is. The trainers are in awe of his incredible personality. It’s obvious that he’s had the best of everything. He’s confident, kind, fit and pretty darn smart. Please know that we’re so appreciative of your breeding and training, and you should be proud.”
Liberty K9 is a family business. Richling’s wife, Laura, and their children, Joe, Colleen, Sharon, Steve and Josh, also are animal trainers.
Tony and Laura Richling have been training dogs for nine years, and their children followed their lead.
Colleen, 20, said she and her siblings saw their parents enjoying their work and fell in step as soon as they were old enough to learn how to train animals.
The Richlings believe that any dog, whether it is pedigreed or from a shelter, can be taught to be a well-behaved member of the family.
Liberty K9 offer private lessons with boarding, or owners and pets may attend public classes at the training center.
There are several “Max” previews online.
“The trailers are pretty awesome,” Tony Richling said.
“I cried, not like a girl, not that there is anything wrong with that, but I had tears,” Tony Richling said.
“We’re very proud of Carlos,” he said.
BY SUZI BARTHOLOMY