Dogs In Film & TV

Red Dog, the Movie

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Red Dog is an Australian feature film released in mid 2011, and according to an article in Wikipedia is about a stray dog who adopts a master, who then dies. It may never be released in the US, but it was very successful “Down Under”, being nominated for nine awards in the 2011 “Inside Film Awards”, Australia’s equivalent of Hollywood’s Academy Awards (Oscars). It was based on a true story, although it was probably embellished some for audience appeal. However, it did win in 7 categories, including Best Feature Film, so whatever they may have embellished, worked!

Red Dog

Truck driver Thomas (Luke Ford) arrives in Dampier, Western Australia, late one night. Upon entering the town pub he sees the silhouettes of a group of men, one of whom is holding a gun. Believing he is witnessing a murder he rushes into the next room, where he sees that the men are trying to put down an apparently sick dog. Unable to bring themselves to carry out the euthanasia, the men, with Thomas, retreat to the bar.

Publican Jack Collins (Noah Taylor) tells him the dog’s name is Red Dog and narrates his story. Upon arriving in Dampier, the dog befriends many of the employees of Hamersley Iron, who have a major iron ore excavation in progress. Various miners relate their stories of Red Dog to Thomas, but state that, while Red Dog was a dog for everyone, he had no real master.

The men then tell of an American named John Grant (Josh Lucas), who becomes Red’s true master. John, a bus driver for Hamersley Iron, starts dating a woman named Nancy (Rachael Taylor), who is a secretary at Hamersley Iron. After living in Dampier for two years, John proposes to Nancy. On the night of the engagement, John tells Red Dog to stay until he returns from Nancy’s caravan. Early the next morning, John rides his motorcycle from Nancy’s caravan, but is killed in an accident on the way home.

In the shock of John’s accident, Nancy and the Hamersley men forget about Red Dog. Unbeknownst to them, he is still in the place where John told him to stay. After three weeks Red decides to look for John, first at Hamersley Iron, then the bar and other places where John was known to go, until all of Dampier is explored. He then continues across much of the Australian North West Pilbara region from Perth to Darwin. He is even rumoured to have caught a ship to Japan in search of John. Finally, the grief catches up to him, and he decides to return to Dampier. When he arrives, he returns to Nancy at the caravan park where she is staying, and she is overwhelmed to see him. The caretakers of the caravan park, however, do not allow dogs in the park, and threaten to shoot Red Dog. Nancy and John’s friends at Hamersley then travel the community of Dampier in support of Red Dog and, after a “civilised chat” with some of the miners, the caretaker and his wife leave, leaving their cat, Red Cat, behind. A great fight between Red Dog and Red Cat ensues, and in the end, they resolve their differences and become mates….

The star of the movie was Koko, a Kelpie, who had only performed in dog shows before this movie’s idea came up. Koko was trained especially for the movie since he very closely resembled the real Red Dog, and seemed to even have most of the inner qualities of the real dog.

The movie did cause some controversy: it was filmed in the mining town where it happened, and the mining company footed some of the costs of the film. Critics say that therefore the mining company was portrayed in glowing terms, which wasn’t necessarily the truth. (There are always critics, aren’t there? The town’s residents apparently had no complaints, so do you think maybe there might be just the tiniest chance that it was the truth? Duhhhhhh!) There has been a statue of Red Dog erected in the town, actually replacing one they had of the town’s founder.

I haven’t seen the movie’s DVD for sale on eBay yet, but hope it will be soon. How about you — would you like to see the movie Red Dog?

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