Air Bud is now officially 20-years old and can almost hit the bar, but director Charles Martin Smith won’t be bringing a dog to a bar to celebrate. In a new interview celebrating 20 years of Air Bud, Smith admitted that he wasn’t a “dog person.” That’s right, the man responsible for the movie where a real-life dog plays basketball has never owned a dog and admitted to not really liking them. Smith also admitted to never seeing any of the many sequels that Air Bud spawned.
Smith recently sat down with Newsweek to discuss Air Bud and its legacy to mark the 20th anniversary of the stone cold classic. But one of the most curious lines in the interview is when Smith is asked if he is a dog person. The director had this to say.
“I’m not a huge dog lover, no. I’ve never really owned dogs.”
Smith went on to say that although he’s never owned a dog and doesn’t really like them, he does find animals in general to be “fascinating” and very “honest.” Apparently they have a “purity” that human actors do not.
There are plenty of amazing tidbits to learn about the making of Air Bud from the interview. For instance, the hardest scenes were the basketball scenes. Who would’ve thought? Another scene that Smith initially thought was going to be tough was a scene where Bud sneaks out of the house from the roof and gets the newspaper to bring it into the backyard. Smith explains.
“I set the camera up and the dog came out of the window, trotted along the edge of the roof, jumped down onto the hood of the car, jumped down onto the driveway, ran down the driveway, picked up the newspaper and ran into the backyard with it-all in the first take. I’ve never heard an entire crew break into spontaneous applause for a dog trainer.”
Buddy the Wonder Dog, a Golden Retriever, who was found on the streets in the Sierra Mountains in 1989 by trainer Kevin di Cicco, portrayed Air Bud. Cicco took Buddy home to San Diego and trained him to play soccer, basketball, chess, baseball, football, and hockey. He was first seen on TV on America’s Funniest Home Videos and later seen on The Late Show with David Letterman for a segment of Stupid Pet Tricks. In 1995, Buddy was cast as Comet the dog on ABC’s Full House in 1995.
Unfortunately, Air Bud was Buddy’s last role as he passed away less than a year later after a battle with synovial cell sarcoma, which is a type of cancer that manifests near joints. Charles Martin Smith has nothing but fond memories of Bud and was amazed how many times that the dog made the ball go into the basket. Apparently, Buddy would get a reward every time the ball went in the hoop, but there were times when Buddy tried to bite the ball. Though Smith isn’t a dog person, he seems to have enjoyed the time that he spent making Air Bud and all of the sequels that were made afterwards were dedicated to Buddy’s memory.