Actor John Reardon, who plays Detective Charlie Hudson, and his canine partner Diesel (Rex) have formed a strong bond on and off-camera. “It’s all the dog elements and how we shoot them that make the show special,” says John, who gives credit to Diesel’s trainer, Sherri Davis.
The suspect breaks into a run, disappearing into a maze of shipping containers, but he’s no match for Detective Charlie Hudson and his German Shepherd partner, Rex, who are in hot pursuit. Before long, the culprit is in custody, and another episode of Hudson & Rex comes to a satisfying conclusion. Now into its fourth season, CityTV’s police procedural drama series, set in Newfoundland and Labrador, is a hit with those who love Canadian television dramas — and dogs! Fans of the show never cease to be amazed at Rex’s abilities, whether he’s taking down a drone in mid-flight, or crawling through an air duct. How does he do it?
Rex’s real name is Diesel vom Burgimwald, and he’s obviously a very intelligent canine. But kudos also go to his “mom” and trainer, Sherri Davis, who uses positive reinforcement methods. “When we’re training Diesel in his role as Rex, we prep all the behaviours ahead of time,” explains Sherri, “then rehearse them again when we get to set. At the end of a take, he’s given hugs and kisses, and gets to play with a toy. He might also get a food reward, but it always has to be fun for him.”
It’s clear to fans that Diesel loves what he does, although initially he wasn’t sure of his human co-star, John Reardon, who plays Detective Hudson. “We taught John how to handle him, then started a focusing exercise,” explains Sherri. “John is the only one who calls Diesel ‘Rex’. So John would say ‘Rex’, and every time Diesel looked at him, John rewarded him with play, a ball or treat. At first, John either had a piece of food tucked in his pocket or we spread a bit of honey or Cheez Whiz on him to get Diesel to give him a kiss. Now, you only have to say ‘Where is John?’ and Diesel runs and finds him among a crew of 100 people. Their relationship has really grown and now they’re best buds.”
Fun Fact: Diesel was bred by one of our Canadian Dogs Annual breed advertisers, Burgimwald Reg’d!
Diesel has made many additional friends among the cast and crew. “The first thing he wants to do at the start of every workweek is head directly to set so he can go around
and sniff every single person,” Sherri smiles. “They all say good morning and give him an ear scratch or back rub.”
Now five years old, Diesel is a seasoned canine actor and has even learned some of the terminology used on set. “He knows what ‘finals’ means, he knows ‘slate,’ ‘frame,’ and ‘action,’” says Sherri. “If you take him to set and they haven’t done finals yet, but he’s on his mark and ready, and then they yell ‘finals,’ he grunts, gets off his mark, and goes and lies in the corner until set is ready to get the cameras up. It’s actually quite hysterical!”