Max: Man’s Best Friend, Hero Dog and Marine

If you love dogs like us, you’ll love this new movie from Warner Bros. and Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer Pictures  “Max,” a family action adventure film,from writer/director Boaz Yakin (“Remember the Titans,” “Fresh”).  Max is opening in Canada and the US on June 26, 2015.
Max movie poster
It is a beautiful story of healing from PTSD, grief and loss, and a celebration of the bond between a boy and his dog.
We are particularly proud because Max stars Canadian Robbie Amell, as U.S. Marine Kyle Wincott. In a recent interview with the North Toronto Post,  Amell discussed his role in the film and what it means for those suffering PTSD.
Max and Kyle in combat

“In real life, the dogs are on the front lines, making sure our troops don’t walk onto IED’s [improvised explosive devices]. And when handlers and dogs lose partners, they go through the same PTSD, which is what the film explores.” – Robbie Amell,  North Toronto Post, June 2015
Amell commented that he worked with six Belgian Shepherds, who played the role of an active canine service member.

Other cast members include Josh Wiggins as Justin Wincott, Lauren Graham as his mom, Pamela, and Oscar nominee Thomas Haden Church as his dad, Ray. Yakin directed the film from a screenplay he wrote with Sheldon Lettich (“Rambo III,” “Double Impact”).  Karen Rosenfelt (“Marley & Me,” the “Twilight” series) and Ken Blancato (“The Book Thief”) produced the film, with Ben Ormand and Yakin serving as executive producers. It features the song “Forever Young” by Blake Shelton.

Max and Kyle is back of truckThe film follows a precision-trained military dog, Max, as he serves on the front lines in Afghanistan alongside his handler, U.S. Marine Kyle Wincott. When Kyle is mortally wounded on maneuvers, Max is devastated and shows symptoms of PTSD. He can no longer remain in service. Upon his return to the US,  Kyle’s younger brother, Justin, is the only human that Max seems willing to connect with. Max is adopted by Kyle’s family, but Justin has his own issues, including living up to his father’s expectations and grieving for his brother. Justin is initially reluctant to look after the troubled Max. However, he slowly realizes that  Max may be his only chance to discover what really happened to his brother that day on the front.

Justin reaches out to Max

The two of them learn to trust and heal together. With the help of a tough-talking young teen, Carmen, who has a way with dogs, Justin begins to appreciate his canine companion.  Through Justin’s patience and attention, Max begins to revert back to his heroic self.  Just in time for the pair to try to solve a mystery and learn what really happened to Kyle. They find more excitement – and danger—than they bargained for. They also find an unlikely new best friend in each other.

Justin and Max in the bushes

It is estimated that more than half a million US war veterans suffer from post-traumatic stress disorder (source : RAND Corp and other studies)

We are so inspired by this film and the way it tells the story of PTSD from the canine’s perspective through a great story grounded in truth. It shows the true power of the Human-Animal bond and it’s ability to help heal grief and loss.PTSD is a tragic phenomenon that sadly affects too many each year. Most suffer in silence or even commit suicide.  The movie Max not only builds awareness of PTSD in human veterans, but opens up a discussion about PTSD in Animals.

Max and Justin pose for camera

When people connect with an animal there’s a primal bond that often goes beyond what we experience with other people,says Boaz Yakin, the cowriter/director/executive producer of Max.” 

Is Your Dog A #HeroPet?

Max the Hero Dog

Along with the release of the film, there is a fun social media program that asks folks to submit their dogs for the #HeroPet activation.
Share your photos and stories of why your dog is a hero using the hashtags #HeroPet, #MaxtheHero and #MaxMovie on social media for a chance to be featured on the official MAX pages!
Follow MAX on Facebook and on Instagram 

Recognizing Hero Dogs

Chuck Shuck, Betty White, Gabe the hero dog pose for camera

From left, Sgt. 1st Class Chuck Shuck, Actress Betty White and The 2012 American Hero Dog Gabe

The American Humane Association Hero Dog Awards™ were created in 2010 to celebrate the remarkable bond between dogs and people in a positive way. This annual national competition searches out and recognizes America’s Hero Dogs, who unconditionally avail themselves to us in so many important ways, whether it’s saving lives on the battlefield, lending sight or hearing to a human companion, providing therapeutic support to children suffering from cancer, or just greeting us with a wagging tail at the end of a hard day.
Past winners include Military Working Dog, Gabe, who saved soldiers’ lives in Iraq. Read More HERE. See the 2015 Nominees HERE
The American Humane Association Hero Dog Awards™ are proud to be a part of Max movie that recognizes servicemen and the human-animal bond. They were on set to ensure it received the No Animals Were Harmed end credit!

K9s for Warriors: How Dogs Help Soldiers Heal

Earlier this year, at a presentation at Global Pet Expo sponsored by K9 Advantix 11,  we had the privilege of talking with Brett Simon, the Director of K9 Operations for K9s for Warriors about his own battle with PTSD.

Brett served in Iraq as a dog handler for the Department of Defence. Upon his return, he and his family noticed symptoms of severe PTSD. Together, they fused their love for dogs and helping veterans to start K9s for Warriors.

K9s for Warriors is a non-profit group that helps veterans with PTSD, sexual trauma and/or traumatic brain injury as a result of military service return to regular life using trained rescue or shelter dogs. Their goal is to give a new leash on life to rescue dogs and military heroes alike, helping empower them to live with dignity and independence.

How to Train, Raise, and Manage a Malinois

The movie “Max” is being released June 26. This movie will show the world the power, loyalty and intelligence of one of the top breeds used by special operations forces and law enforcement all over the world. However, this breed of dog is not a pet for everyone. If you are considering getting a Malinois do your research. They need lots of mental and physical stimulation and training. They are a working breed. Keep them out of shelters. Check out our Breed Library and speak to experts before you adopt any dog into your family.


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  • Great post with lots of great info links! I, too, am SO excited to see this movie. Our post went live earlier this morning and I am eagerly anticipating the arrival of June 26th! Have fun at the screening – and can’t wait to hear your reviews!!!

  • Great Post. Especially liked the info on K9s for Warriors. Can’t wait to see the movie this Friday.

  • Oh wow my friend, this is an extra special Max Movie post in that you got to share about meeting the founder of K9s for Warriors out of Jacksonville FL. I’ve been doing research on them actually. What a small world! How very cool! Thank you so much for sharing the additional information on the Malinois breed and the time you spent with Brett Simon.
    Your friend, Pixel & Mom Jenny Lewis
    P.S. I took part in the Max movie blog post promo as well. 🙂