Phil Legood is an ADTB Fully Approved Instructor

This is Phil’s story

A couple of weeks ago I received an email from my local university, the University of East Anglia, which said,

“I am currently directing a short film at Norwich University of the Arts called ‘Fifth Stage’. It is a heart warming story about loneliness and grief in the elder generation. At the end of the story, an old man is left behind a dog by his deceased sister. I was doing my research and came across your website. I was wondering whether this is something you could help us out with, whether you have a trained dog yourself, or know of any clients that might be interested. Any help would be appreciated.”

I was immediately drawn to this, having seen so many times, how owning a dog is such a wonderful way of getting lonely people to talk and make new friends when walking their dogs. We all know that in these sad and busy times we live in, that if you walk down any street no one will smile, nod or talk to you. But walk down any street with your dog and try a smile or a nod and people will smile back and maybe even stop and talk or make a fuss of your dog.

I was very keen to help with this project to help try and spread the word on dog ownership, and who knows, maybe even help get a few dogs out of rescue centres. I had the perfect dog in mind, my dog Bess of course. Bess is a Border Collie cross Labrador, she has her mother’s looks (Labrador) but is the size of a Collie. She was well socialized as a puppy and adores people (she has even gone as far as learning to show her teeth and smile, which has freaked a few people out). Bess does however have her dad’s brains (Border Collie) and although love playing fetch, will bring the ball back but never give it to you, she prefers to drop it (always between 5 to 8 paces away) and then run away and lay down in typical Collie style and wait to chase or ambush the ball when thrown.

I mentioned this to the director of the film and pointed out that this would make the old man have to actually get up and walk to the ball to be able to throw it, increasing not only his exercise but also his interaction with a dog he did not necessarily want. The director was immediately taken with this and has added it to the script. We all met at a local park and filming began.

Bess was given to a young lady who walked her to the bench the old man was sitting on and gave Bess to him. This was rehearsed and then filmed. The old man was also given a bag of toys and treats, (in which I had place Bessie’s favourite ball). The old man then had to take the ball out of the bag and ask Bess if she wanted it, before throwing it for her. We rehearsed this a few times, and then the ball was thrown.

The next step was to film the old man trying to get her to bring it back, and then shrugging his shoulders and having to get up to retrieve the ball. The whole thing only took a couple of hours and the film team were delighted with the results and of course Bess had a wonderful time.

I was told that the film is a university submission for a project they are currently doing, as well as maybe a submission to film festivals, so Steven Spielberg , and Hollywood here we come?

Norwich University of the Arts is ranked in the UK’s top 10 for teaching quality by The Times/Sunday Times Good University Guide 2018 and awarded gold in the 2017 Teaching Excellence Framework (TEF).

NUA is rated as a top 6 UK university for creative scene by students in the Which? Student Survey 2018.

Winner of Outstanding Estates Strategy in the Times Higher Education Leadership and Management Awards 2018 and shortlisted for Buildings That Inspire in the Guardian Awards 2018.