They see you when you’re sleeping. They know when you’re awake. Dog lovers know we’re not talking about Santa Claus, but the four-legged friends who are there for us, attentive and interactive, offering unconditional love when we need them most. Hollywood has a love affair with dogs, and enjoys playing up the ways they provide as much (or much more) as we provide for them! From the familiar to the fantastical, let’s look at 10 dogs and situations in the last century of cinema where we are definitely getting the better end of the deal.
1 – Lassie’s Wake Up Call (1943)
The vintage film Lassie Come Home, featuring the classic, comely collie and a very young Roddy McDowall, shows us how a smart dog not only serves as a functional alarm clock, but comes with a very short and can’t-be-fooled snooze button.
Lassie then ensures his human companion goes to school to learn. After all, many of the dog’s boy companions can’t seem to stop falling down wells or getting themselves into perilous situations requiring canine assistance. Definitely a one-sided relationship!
2 – Gromit’s Morning Routine (1993)
Hollywood’s discovery of Aardman Animation imported the tremendous adventures of Wallace and Gromit. While Wallace might tinker with dozens of crazy inventions, it’s the more grounded Gromit that keeps things working…or at least running as smoothly as possible with his eccentric human.
While Lassie might provide a more realistic expectation of morning interaction with a punctual pooch, here’s the morning ritual we all wish our dog would facilitate!
3 – Hosehead’s Super Civic Duty (1983)
Unemployed and unintelligent, the beer drinking McKenzie brothers in 1983’s Strange Brew go up against an evil brewmeister played by Max Von Sydow.
When there’s no way to get to the Oktoberfest celebration in time to warn people about a mind-controlling substance in the libations, who saves the day? Their four-legged roommate Hosehead is the real hero, with a surprising super-dog reveal!
4 – Bolt’s Relentless Pursuit (2008)
Maybe the Avengers don’t need to assemble: 25 years later, taking a tip from Hosehead and Krypto the Wonder Dog, Disney offered a trade-up from Superman to super man’s best friend!
Bolt is the dog we all wished we had, outsmarting and outfighting all obstacles in his path. Even as the movie reveals the powers are all Hollywood trickery and our titular hero has not real super abilities, the power of his canine heart proves more than enough to win the day and be united with his partner Penny.
5 – Jack’s Silent Save (2011)
Even without effects, or sound, The Artist‘s dog Jack demonstrates a love and devotion that is literally beyond words, saving his master, George Valentin, from getting, well, fired. Literally.
6 – Nanook’s Vampire Bath (1987)
You might have the stakes, crosses, garlic and holy water set and ready, but these long in the tooth Lost Boys won’t be dispatched without the assistance of a canine vampire hunter!
Move over Buffy—this Alaskan malamute knows evil when he smells it, and shows the Frog brothers how vampire slaying is done.
7 – Samantha’s Sacrifice (2007)
Apparently Hollywood isn’t content to have dogs battling rock and roll vampires; they need to save their human partner from vicious vamping dogs as well. A wise man said there’s no greater love than laying down your life for a friend, and Will Smith’s character receives that love from his dog Sam (short for Samantha) in I am Legend. The film’s title ought to be referring to this brave German shepherd.
8 – Bark Lee’s School of Driving
We’ll bring the mood back around with another save from fiery death, courtesy of this life-saving pooch from the oddball adventure John Dies at the End. John probably would have died sooner if not for Bark Lee, who evidently took advantage of those canine driving school lessons…
9 – Baxter’s Save from a Watery Grave
If we needed a juxtaposition of smart and stupid, it might be best illustrated by Anchorman‘s Ron Burgundy and his multi-lingual canine cohort Baxter. Not only is the dog fluent in Spanish, he fends off a shark in the sequel Anchorman 2. Would you dive in to save your dog from a great white? Baxter doesn’t even hesitate.
10 – Winston’s Culinary Compromise
When his human companion’s happiness is at stake, Winston is willing to give up steak to ensure his human’s future. The delightful short film Feast shows us how a little puppy focused on food grows to put friendship above his stomach. Of course, sometimes that willingness to serve others brings unexpected returns! Here’s the short film in its entirety.
Perhaps Hollywood magic makes these situations more grandiose, and the intelligence gulf more vast than it truly is, but let’s face it: When it comes to many of our people/pooch relationships, we may need to admit we’re getting the better end of the deal. So bring on the garish examples to keep us humble, Hollywood: we might give our companions a tasty treat, but the real treat is how much care and affection we receive from them.