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  • Writer's pictureKen Silvers

Dog Gone

Before I begin this week's review let me begin by saying no dog dies in this film. I have always refused, unless caught off guard, to watch a film where a dog dies. There is just something so pitiful and gut wrenching watching man's best friend pass in a movie. So I did begin viewing "Dog Gone" with a bit of caution hoping the dreaded event didn't occur. "Dog Gone" is based on real life events and follows the story of college student Fielding Marshall (Johnny Berchtold), who struggles in school but has a heart big enough to adopt a yellow lab puppy he falls in love with when visiting an animal shelter. Fielding's college friend Nate (Nick Peine) thinks his best friend is making a horrible mistake of taking on such a responsibility. Despite his friend's warning, Fielding takes the lab puppy to his college home and keeps his new roommate, which he names Gonker with him for the rest of his college career. Gonker is always with Fielding on campus, and is loved by Fielding's other friends, and is well known on campus. When graduation rolls around all of Fielding's friends have jobs lined up, but Fielding is not sure of his path in life, which worries his father John (Rob Lowe), who wants his son to succeed in something. After graduation, Fielding is jobless, and he and Gonker move back to his parents home, where after a bit of hesitation, the new resident of the Marshall household becomes a loved family member, especially by Fielding's mom Ginny (Kimberly Williams-Paisley) who has a painful childhood memory about a beloved dog she had when she was a child. So while all is going well with Gonker at first, it's soon discovered he has Addison's disease and will need a shot every month for the rest of his life in order to survive. Meanwhile, unbeknownst to his parents, Fielding has begun dealing with his own health issues, but continues to search for his path in life. One day when Nate visits, he joins Fielding and Gonker on a brief hike on the Appalachian Trail. While on the hike, the trio spot a fox, and with encouragement, Gonker runs after the fox. When Gonker doesn't return, the guys rush back to Fielding's house convinced he is lost. The missing dog brings up bad memories for Ginny who immediately sets up a control room in the house and begins calling local shelters, the media and hospitals in the hopes someone will find the missing pet. Time is of the essence as Gonker will need his monthly shot in three weeks. Fielding and John begin searching the Appalachian Trail,and as their extensive search continues, Fielding's health begins deteriorating, but he will not give up searching. The time Fielding and his dad spend together searching for Gonker is good for both of them and eases the strain of their relationship. Nothing like a dog to bring people together! At this point I will just say despite the health issues of Fielding and Gonker, all ends well for the best friends with a joyous reunion. I love how the story conveys how the love of a dog helps a troubled youth experience unconditional love, and find his possible path in life while on the Appalachian Trail. All the actors in the film are great, and Berchtold is so wonderful in his role he is never overshadowed by Gonker, who could have easily stolen the movie, as most dogs in films do. The film is based on a novel and was executive produced by Lowe, and directed by Stephen Herek ("Critters"). The only thing cringe worthy about the film is how the actors often pronounce "Appalachian." Did no one on the set, which was filmed around the Atlanta area, tell the actors how to properly pronounce Appalachian? That nick picking aside, "Dog Gone" is a heartwarming film about love, forgiveness, patience, and the unconditional love of a sweet dog. Just keep a few tissues handy. Now playing on Netflix. (Rated PG)



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