To Do Tonight: "Black Beauty Breed" Documentary Will Have Audiences Falling Head Over Paws for Rottweilers
The St. Louis premiere of the award-winning documentary “Black Beauty Breed,” a look at of the most misunderstood dog breeds in America, the Rottweiler, debuts tonight at the Purina Event Center. Director Angie Ruiz hopes that the film will challenge the stereotype of them as an intimidating guard dog by exploring the positive qualities of the breed, such has its predominant desire to be hardworking and reliable.
Ruiz spent six years making this documentary, which was inspired by her very own beloved companion, Samson, who sadly passed away about a week ago from bone cancer. We caught up with her before the film’s debut to talk a bit about Samson, filmmaking and, ultimately, the documentary’s ultimate message.
ALIVE: Can you tell us a little about Samson?
Ruiz: We rescued him in 2007 he was nine months old. A family was giving him up and was going to take him to the pound when I heard about this. I offered to transport him to Rottweiler Rescue of Los Angeles because I knew he was such a beautiful dog, and I didn’t want them to take him to the pound. On that ride, I fell in love him. I decided to adopt him myself, and it was the best decision I ever made. He was a such a sweet gentle giant [at] 125 lbs. Samson was the kindest, sweetest, most intelligent [dog]. [He] took to training well and was just a good, good family member.
ALIVE: Besides your love for Samson, what also inspired the mission of this documentary?
Ruiz: When we adopted Samson, I wanted to learn more about the Rottweiler. I knew it was a big dog. He was nine months old and he was already 100 lbs, so I think there was a responsibility on my part. I really wanted it to be a successful adoption, so I did a lot of research at that time. Around 2007, YouTube was something new. I went to look for videos there, and there weren’t very many—it was all about their bite. I looked for books, articles on the Internet, and … I found a lot of websites that really helped educate me on their nature as a working dog. Their background is herding; they do carting; they can do agility. They do all of these things, and they are very intelligent, but they need something to do—a job—that is how they thrive. I started a photo-journal and met other Rottweilers, and that is the beginning of the documentary. I sort of put that together, tried to fill that gap for other people that were like myself who wanted to see something visual to learn more about that dog.
ALIVE: Why do you think the media portrays Rottweilers as a vicious guard dog?
Ruiz: I actually think that is changing slightly now, based on all of information that’s out there and available about these dogs and certainly all other breeds. They do a lot for society in terms of therapy [and] search and rescue, and that’s what the film covers.
They are big dogs and I think in the ’80s and the ’70s, you saw them in “The Omen” and other movies where they are portrayed as vicious dogs. I think somehow entertainment may have hung on to that image, and when you see films when they are portrayed, it’s always a Rottweiler, German shepherd or maybe even a pitbull these days. I just think they use them because they are big dog and they look intimidating.
ALIVE: What are some other great qualities about Rottweilers you convey in this film?
Ruiz:I want to emphasize their intelligence: They are one of the smartest dog breeds out there. In fact, a lot of the owners I came across are highly intelligent themselves and one woman, a world-renowned heart surgeon … says, “I will only have a rottweiler” because they are so smart. They take to training well; they’re intelligent; they are obviously a very giving and loving dog; incredibly loyal—their family is their life. It’s funny, in this film, people who have Rottweilers can’t have another breed. There is something about them, the way that they look at you. They have to see you all the time. I felt that way with my dog.
ALIVE: “Black Beauty Breed” has received high recognition—it’s screened in more than 40 countries worldwide. What influence has it had on audiences?
AR: It has created a major awareness just by educating people on the breed and certainly on their background. People are visual, and when you can translate that onto film, it’s easier for people to digest and to understand. It’s actually caused a lot of people to change their mind, like, “Wow, I’ve misjudged this dog.” I’ve certainly been in screenings where grown men will come out in tears and say … “This really changed my mind,” or there are certain things they really relate to with the Rottweilers, like that they’re hard-working.
ALIVE: Any last thoughts you would love your viewers to take away?
Ruiz: I would just like people to come away with a better understanding of the Rottweiler, and I’m hoping that the film will dispel any images people may have of them being vicious or just guard dogs. I think one of the most important things is I don’t want the Rottweiler to be diminished to just a guard dog. I think they are a well-rounded, versatile dog that can do many things if given the chance.
Proceeds from the premiere and DVD sales will benefit the RH Foundation as well as initiatives related to Rottweiler health, canine cancer research and osteosarcoma research.