Major Calu didn’t smile, he didn’t talk, but he was of an extraordinary precision: the story of the dog from Pistruiatul, one of the most beloved characters in Romanian movies

Many generations of Romanians grew up with Pistruiatul, one of the many films directed by the late actor, stuntman, director, Sergiu Nicolaescu.

Although Sergiu Nicolaescu had one of the leading roles in this series of films, by far his most beloved characters were the red-haired, freckled boy, but also his faithful dog, Calu.

Incidentally, as soon as the first Freckled film appeared, households in Romania began to have something in common: in many of them there was a dog named Calu, in honour of the canine major. You may be wondering why “major” – we’ll explain that below.

Movie scene from Freckled / Costel Băloiu, in the lead role, and Kalo, as Calu.

Calu had a higher military rank than his trainer

Over the years, world cinema has repeatedly included animals in the script. We remember, of course, Lassie, Black Beauty and even Beethoven.

Romanian cinema was no exception, with Calu, the cute and brave German shepherd from the Freckled series.

Since the first film, the dog has become one of the audience’s favourite characters, with viewers being amazed by the tricks the dog performs with extraordinary precision and ease.

What is less well known is that there was a very good reason for this. The stately four-legged dog was, in fact, a security officer, with the rank of major, so he had the best training available in our country at the time.

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Moreover, it seems that he obeyed only his instructor, the platoon leader Ion Tașcă.

“During filming, there was also a joke: Comrade Platoonier, Comrade Major is calling you to report”, Costel Băloiu would later tell.

“My husband, after his military training, was assigned to Sibiu, to the dog training school. There, he was assigned Calu, at the age of 2 months. For 1 year he trained with Calu, being a tracking dog. Then, after the end of his military training, he was assigned to Cluj, to a unit in Valea Ierii. He also participated with Calu in many competitions, winning many prizes. My husband had about 15-20 dogs under his hand”, Elena Tașcă told exclusively.

Movie scene from Pistruiatul / Costel Băloiu, in the lead role, and Kalo, as Calu.

His name was actually Kalo. The Freckle was afraid of him

Costel Băloiu, who played Freckle almost 50 years ago, would later tell that the production team of Freckle had to change the dog’s name, but as he didn’t respond to the new name, the situation had to be adapted and the middle way was chosen.

“Calu, my dog in the film, was actually called Kalo,” Costel Băloiu recounted at first.

“It was a Hungarian name and in the film they wanted to call him something else, but he only answered to Kalo, so they found no other solution than to call him Calu. To be honest, he wouldn’t listen to me at all, and he would only eat from his instructor’s hand, no matter how much I wanted to get close to him. He was a security dog and had the rank of major. He was 42 kg, I was 31.

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I remember at one point, after a tiring day, Calu and I were both exhausted. I was filming the backpack sequence. He couldn’t pick it up… I got angry and slammed the backpack down. The instructor told me never to do that again. He took Calu to a corner, where there was no one, gave him some kind of therapy and after a few minutes he was back on his feet”, recalled the actor who played the Freckled One, Costel Băloiu, in an interview with magazine.

In the spirit of fairness, it should be noted that actor Costel Băloiu seems to be mistaken about the origin of the name “Kalo”. Our editorial staff has investigated the matter and it seems that the name has no meaning in Hungarian, according to our sources.

Immediately after the success of “Freckled”, the same dog would be requested for another film, “Grandfather and Two Juvenile Delinquents”, a 1976 film directed by Maria Callas Dinescu, with Octavian Cotescu and Draga Olteanu Matei in the lead roles.

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