A Dog’s Journey

A dog must discover his reason for living while living in different homes, with different owners.                   

  • Starring: Dennis Quaid, Kathryn Prescott
  • Director(s): Gail Mancuso
  • Producer(s): Gavin Palone
  • Screenwriter(s): W. Bruce Cameron, Maya Forbes, Cathryn Michon, Wallace Wolodarsky
  • Distributor: Universal Pictures
  • Animal Coordinator: Canine Co Stars of Canada, Manitoba Animal Actors
  • Release Date: Friday, May 17, 2019

Featured Animal Action

hroughout the film, the main character has a pet dog, who is seen performing such mild action as sitting/standing/lying, being held or petted, and walking/running on or off leash. For all of these scenes, trainers used hand signals and verbal commands to cue the mild action, which the trained dog was accustomed to performing. The barking/growling was also a trained behavior.

In the scene where the actor drives the tractor and the dog sits in the back, the dog was placed on the tractor, while the trainer laid down in bottom of the tractor’s cargo box. The trainer arranged the dog on foam mat so he could sit comfortably, with a harness attached to his waist. When we see the dog’s face stuffed in feed bucket on the ground, the trainer placed some dog food in the bucket. On action, he cued dog to eat from bucket.

In the scene where the dog jumps off the back of the actor who’s kneeling on all fours, the trainer took the place of the actor. The dog had rehearsed the action several times before. On action, one trainer cues the dog to come to him, the dog jumps off the other trainer’s back to get to him.

In the scene where the dog joins the little girl and the horse in the horse stable, and the horse rears back, causing the dog to bark, the rangler used hand signals and whistled to get the horse to toss his head and paw at ground. The child and dog were not in vicinity of the horse.

In the scene where the dog is dying in the barn, lying in his owner’s arms, Dog is Odin.

19 - dog placed on down stay by trainer T. Judd, head in lap of actor, prior to shooting the scene, the actor spoke to the dog, while the trainer used verbal commands to keep the dog’s head down.. Actor places right hand on muzzle of dog, stroking it but also using it to keep dog from raising head. Two other actors enter, one playing a veterinarian, who uses a prop needle and syringe to mimic euthanizing the dog.

When we see puppies nursing on their mother in a cage, they actually filmed this scene at the breeder’s home. A safety meeting was held prior to the skeleton crew entering the home and setting up equipment. All crew entering the home used a foot bath and covered their shoes with surgical booties prior to filming. Strict equipment and personal sanitation rules were followed. The puppies were in their normal puppy bed and pen when the crew entered the home. Once the camera and lighting equipment was in place and the crew was ready to film, the owner brought the mother dog back in the house and into the living room area where the puppy pen was set up. Once the puppies began nursing with the mother, the crew filmed.

When the puppy ran out of the house and started digging under the fence, trainers dug up the ground to soften and cleaned topsoil to depth of 1’ for dog to dig. On action, the trainers stood off camera and cued the dog to run out the door. They cut. Then they placed the dog at the soft ground. On cue, the trainer signaled the dog to dig.

When the dog pees on the bed, trainers placed the dog on the bed. Once she was positioned on the bed, trainers placed in a sit/stay with her inguinal area resting on a clear, plastic cup (approximately 3 inches tall) and therefore slightly elevated, thus giving the impression that she was posturing to urinate. The dog never really urinated.

When the girl places the dog in the drawer and the dog bites at the girl’s hand, on action the girl carried the dog to the dresser. The bottom drawer was open enough to easily put dog inside. The trainer was in the corner, below the camera frame, looking at the dog, verbally telling the dog to stay. Then the girl placed her hand in front of dog’s muzzle and the dog was verbally commanded by the trainer to take it. The dog took girl’s hand in his mouth. On action, the took her hand away.

In the scene where the actress sees dogs in a kennel, the dogs in the kennel all knew each other and were very familiar with each other. The dogs were released from one puppy pen in a room into a large open room where they could run around loosely.

In the scene where the dog slowly dies in the backseat of the car, the trainers walked the dog to the interior set of the upside down car. Once on set, the trainer placed the dog on the interior roof near the back windshield of the upside down car. The trainers lied down next to the dog, off-camera. The dogs also cued the dog to lie still on his left side.

When we see a new breed of puppies playing with each other, production filmed the new puppies in a breeder’s private home. In the scene where the dog chases the truck down the road, the dog never chased a car in this scene, dog just trotted toward a camera that was positioned in the road. All traffic was closed off for filming.