In 1997 Disney released “Air Bud”. The movie is about a young boy (Josh Framm) who loses his father in an accident and then his family moves to Washington (state). Meanwhile, an abusive and alcoholic dog owner (Norman Snively) is taking Buddy (a golden retriever) to the pound but his kennel falls off the back of the truck and buddy escapes. Josh and Buddy meet up and quickly becomes friends.
Josh finally gains enough courage to try out for the basketball team and makes it onto the team. During his first game Buddy shows up and causes a lot of confusion and mayhem but the crowd loves him. Buddy even scores a basket during his exhibition. During the season Buddy’s former owner notices him and steals Buddy just before the championship game. Josh helps buddy escape but then Norman sues the family for custody of the dog. Luckily, Josh’s family wins the suit and they get to keep the dog.
The movie, while not a huge blockbuster, did fairly well and Disney created several sequels, “Air Bud: Golden Receiver” (1998 – but with football), “Air Bud: Word Pups” (2000 soccer and puppies (from Buddy and Molly)), “Air Bud: Seventh Inning Fetch” (2002, baseball), and “Air Bud: Spikes Back” (2003, volleyball). This series also spinned off the “Air Buddies” franchise (which features the puppies from “Air Bud: World Pup”).
Buddy is a golden retriever, a very popular breed of dog for a bet and is commonly known to be very friendly towards strangers. One of their favorite games to play is fetch and can play it for hours with their owners (or with some dogs, anyone who has a ball or something else to play fetch with).
The first two films starred a golden retriever named “Air Buddy” (who, coincidentally was also “Comet the Dog” in the TV series “Full House”). Unfortunately he died on Feb 10, 1998 due to lung cancer. Andrew Simpson (who also worked on Stargete SG:1, Millenium, Little Red Riding Hood (2011), and Loup) was credited (but not listed) as being the on set dog trainer for these two movies.
In “Air Bud: World Pup” Buddy was played by a team of golden retrievers Dakota, Walker, Shooter, Tango, and Poacher. Bonnie Judd was credited for being the animal coordinator as well as the animal trainer. Ryan Judd, Trisha Judd, and Doug Leaf were additional on set trainers. Mike Varsava and Wendy Varsava were puppy assisstants on the set.
“Air Bud: Seventh Inning Fetch” featured the same dogs (minus Poacher but added Shaq). Bonnie Judd, Ryan Hudd, and Trisha Judd were also trainers on this film but they also added in Tim Williams and Leslie Williams.
“Air Bud: Spikes Back”, the final film of the Air Bud franchise, featured a new line of “Buddy” actors – Bailey, Brandy, Charlie, and Walker. Annie Gordon was the animal coordinator as well as the head dog trainer on the set. Jennifer Jasper, Paul Jasper, Doug Leaf, and Connie Rusgen were all additional dog trainers on the set.
We will feature Air Buddies at a later time but we do have an article on Santa Buddies. Enjoy!