Scots mum who worked with Gerard Butler trains pets to star in blockbuster movies

A Scots mum who has worked with stars including Gerard Butler and Colin Firth in her role as an ‘animal wrangler’ has described how she trains her pets for blockbuster stardom – including a raven and a wolf-hybrid.

Mum-of-two Bozena Bienkowska, 56, has worked as an ‘animal wrangler’ for 20 years, after being approached by the BBC when she worked as an equine behaviourist.

She currently has 22 Andalusian horses, which are used in films due to their beauty and nature, and also breeds poodle-cross dogs which are used in film work.

Bozena, from Glasgow, has worked on everything from Irn Bru commercials to CBeebies, as well as films starring Colin Firth, who she said loves animals.

Bozena with Riot the eleven-month-old raven.

Her wolf-hybrid Kali, 12, appeared in Wuthering Heights, as a pet belonging to Heathcliffe’s adoptive brother’s son, as the director wanted a wolf for a pet.

Bozena said: “I’ve not yet come across an animal that I don’t get on with.

“I don’t rush up to dogs in the street and pet them, it’s so disrespectful to the animal – I don’t approach them until they approach me.

“My job is to be happy and relaxed – if you get nervous or anxious, everything goes tits up.

Animal trainer Bozena Bienkowska with Gerard Butler.
Animal trainer Bozena Bienkowska with Gerard Butler.

“I have to stay in a very calm place.

“I can jump through hoops but I can’t change nature.

“Sometimes I have to say ‘I know you want this but it can’t happen’.”

Among her eclectic collection of pets is a raven named Riot, aged 11 months, and poodle Zeus, aged 11 years old.

She keeps Maine coon cats, and was photographed with horse Premarosa, aged nine.

Bozena said goats are easiest to work with as they are motivated by food.

Bozena with Premarosa the nine-year-old horse.
Bozena with Premarosa the nine-year-old horse.

She added: “I breed the dogs I use on film sets.

“Poodles are very clever. I had a dog called Truffles who worked with Colin Firth.

“She was amazing – she loved being on set and on location.

“If anything, dogs love to be on set. Dogs love having a job.

“My job is making sure the animal is happy in its skin.

“You get asked if you can get a dog to jump up and wag its tail.

“Animals want someone to follow, they want to be safe.”

A recent production she worked on was Man & Witch, a sequel to the NeverEnding Story.

Bozena added: “There’s so many levels of intelligence – it’s not just cerebral, it’s everything.

“I have been mentored by other trainers, and my understanding of animals has moved on.

“I’m in no way an expert but I’m a lot further on than most people are.”

The mum-of-two has worked with animals for 20 years
The mum-of-two has worked with animals for 20 years

Part of her role includes bringing in experts such as eagle therapists, to work with animals she isn’t familiar with.

Bozena acts as a go between with the assistant director, who keeps the production running smoothly.

She also had another wolf-hybrid, named Shakespeare – and said wolves are more like cats than dogs.

Bozena added: “Wolves aren’t like dogs, they are more like cats.

“Wolves are magical.

“It’s easy to work with goats because they’re just motivated by food.”

Despite working with actors such as Gerard Butler, she said CeeBeebies was her favorite job to work on.

Bozena said: “I really like doing CeeBeebies, they’re amazing people.

“It is such a wonderful environment to work in, there’s no cut-throat aggro.

“I’ve been working with CeeBeebies for a very long time now.”

She believes the intelligence of animals is widely underestimated.

Bozena added: “They are much more capable than people think.

“People think of them like children but they’re not, they are unique in their own right and they have their own intelligence.

“Some things you have to teach, most things you don’t.”

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George Holan

George Holan is chief editor at Plainsmen Post and has articles published in many notable publications in the last decade.

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