Friday Face/Off: Dogs in film

Caroline (“Hooch just, like, gets what I’m about. You know? He understands me.”)

John, in case you’re not already aware, the world is made up of two kinds of people: Dog People and Cat People. Dog People, for the record are likeable, easy-going and naturally charismatic. Cat People are petulant, emotionally unstable, and claw the furniture. It’s your misfortune in life that you’re a Cat Person. It’s ok though, you’re clearly making the best of it. You’ve got a job, you dress yourself in the morning, and people don’t feel the urge to drown you at every available opportunity. Unfortunately, it also means that you cannot appreciate the virtues of a really, really good dog in a movie.

I don’t know anyone who hasn’t cried while watching Marley & Me. Or Homeward Bound. Or even Disney’s animated Bolt. And Bolt was voiced by John Travolta. John Travolta of “I may or may not have been indirectly responsible for the death of my son” fame. If a good dog can redeem John Travolta, then what CAN’T it do?

John (hopes Tramp gave Lady some sort of dreadful progressive virus)

Christ, I hate dogs. They’re thick, they’re fawning, they obey orders with the obsequious efficiency of a concentration camp guard who, to be honest, thinks it’s all probably a good idea and they smell like death. How can you have any sort of respect for something that wags its tail when you do anything other than kick it? Dogs have been allowed to cutesy things up for far too long; it’s time we recognised the fact that post-agrarian societies which feature beeping traffic crossings have no further need for horrible, hairy, vulgar stinking mutts. Put them – and all the films which lazily use them to demonstrate how lovely and caring a character is without actually having to make them interact with a human – on a boat, and sink the damn boat.


In spite of the fact that the iconic rabies scene in Old Yeller would have been dealt with in a much less-hesitant fashion if you were there, I don’t think you can deny the obvious greatness that dogs bring to films. First of all, they virtually have the market cornered in family films. Remember Air Bud, the dog that could play basketball? That film grossed $24 million on a $3 million budget. If that proves anything, it’s that the simple charms of a Golden Retreiver wearing a jersey is the most universally loveable sight to behold. So much so that Air Bud spawned innumerable spin-offs where he played even MORE sports adorably. Volleyball! Soccer! Tennis, probably! Can you imagine how many (wholesome, dog-loving) families that franchise fed? INNUMERABLE.


Dog-loving families? How much better it would have been for them to have starved with their integrity intact. Dogs’ slobbering inanity cheapens every human with which they come into contact, both in film and online. Marley & Me was ninety minutes of unashamed saccharine nonsense based on the unavoidable premise that Owen Wilson was going to have his heart broken by the death of a totally inconsequential animal; if he’d spent half the time he lavished on his mutt trying to have an adult relationship with Jennifer Aniston (itself a Herculean challenge, I admit) then maybe he’d have had the emotional maturity to simply fling Marley’s stiffening corpse into a bin bag as logic demands. With compassion fatigue an increasingly recognised condition, empathy is a precious commodity; for Christ’s sake let’s not waste any of it on dogs.


I’ll ignore this, considering the fact that just moments ago you admitted to having wept during Marley & Me. I’m ignoring this because I appreciate your need to over-exert the masculinity of your internet persona by typing things like “simply fling Marley’s stiffening corpse into a bin bag as logic demands”. It’s ok. I get this, because I have an acute moral compass.

You know what else has an acute moral compass? Dogs. Dogs are highly moral creatures, with a deeply rooted belief system that favours supreme good over terrible evil. In this instance, you represent evil. What about the dog in I Am Legend? That dog was bloody excellent, and he helped us realise the humanity in Will Smith as he beat the arse off some zombie-vampire hybrids . A cat couldn’t have done that.


I KNOW that you haven’t even seen I Am Legend. And I need no excuse for having wiped away a tear at the end of Marley & Me; we get a few short decades on this planet, and I’d never been so aware of how easily an hour and a half could be pissed away. That’s the tragedy.

You’re quite right, dogs do see in black and white; they’re moral absolutists with no more sense than Eve had before she realised her tits were hanging out. Cats, on the other hand, are relativistic creatures who understand that the world is painted in shades of grey; that’s why Hollywood hates them and stereotypes them as bastards as regularly as George Lucas cast English actors as Imperial officers. The dog is an unrelenting fascist, friend only to the chav, the yokel and the emotionally stunted.


Why do you NEED your animals to have varying degrees of morality? The good thing about domestic pets is that there is absolutely no practical need for them to see the world in “shades of gray”. If I needed a furry companion with dubious morality I’d befriend Ron Jeremy. What are you John, some sort of beastialist? Do you REQUIRE your animals to be as close emotionally to a person as they can possibly be? Does that make it easier to have sex with them?


Is this still about film, or are you just slandering me? Fucking dog people. I’d watch it, if I were you – you know what I’m capable of…


I know you’re capable of shooting a Westie through your back-garden fence. What else are you capable of? Paying a cat to rape me?


A cat would do it for free, because the rape itself is only the means to a greater good. A dog wouldn’t get that. Because dogs are dicks.

Who represents dogs for you, Milo or Cujo? Let us know below!


By Caroline O’Donoghue and John Underwood

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