Site To See: Does the Dog Die?

I mentioned this in the comments the other day, but a good site to know about is Does the Dog Die? a movie review site which mostly consists of one or two line reviews like

Raiders of the Lost Ark: A capuchin monkey that the main characters treat as a pet is killed when it eats poisoned dates. Reggie the pet Burmese python is not harmed but a number of venomous wild snakes are set on fire.

See, that’s the kind of thing you need to know, although I’d have mentioned that the cute monkey was a Nazi spy. Also those snakes in the pit? I could spare them.

However, some times I think they’re too understated:

Old Yeller: Yes the dog dies. He’s shot by his owner after contracting rabies.

which I think shows a great deal of self-restraint on the part of the reviewer since I would have written

Old Yeller: Yes the dog dies; he’s shot by the kid who loves him after the dog contracts rabies saving said kid’s life and WHAT THE FUCK IS WRONG WITH YOU, WALT, I WAS SEVEN YEARS OLD AND THAT MOVIE HAUNTS ME TO THIS DAY, YOU MISERABLE, DOG-HATING SON OF A BITCH, I SINCERELY HOPE YOU’RE NOW IN A COLD, DARK PLACE WITHOUT ANY KIND OF FIERCELY LOYAL AND LOVING THING LICKING YOUR HAND TO COMFORT YOU, YOU HEARTLESS DALEK BASTARD.

Mostly, it’s just good to get the head’s up because of the number of screenwriters who kill the dog because they can’t seem to tug on the heartstrings any other way, not understanding that that’s not tugging on the heartstrings, that’s pouring kerosene over the heartstrings and then lighting a slow flame that will spread throughout the nervous system causing screaming pain that will last for SIX DECADES AND BEYOND, YOU SADISTIC DICKHEADS.

Also Cujo, Turner and Hooch, and John Fucking Wick. Jesus.

Oh and it also tracks other trigger situations like people being buried alive, fat jokes, and spiders.

Does the Dog Die?: Highly recommended.

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69 thoughts on “Site To See: Does the Dog Die?

  1. Yay! AristoCats! Best happy pet movie, evah. The scary bits are at the first turning point, where they belong! Then you can have happy jazz cats at the climax.

    1. I remember loving that movie (and I still like it), but now that I’m older I also kind of think that old lady was a little bit crazy for wanting to leave all her money to her cats.

      1. Well, yes, she was nuts. But that was part of her character — she was a little nuts, a little misanthropic, richer than she needed to be (I think she may have been a courtesan ala Gigi’s caretakers when she was younger), and very responsible in providing for her pets (although the art lessons were perhaps overkill). She didn’t have anyone to leave the cats to, so providing for them is reasonable for her character. Not much for Edgar also seems reasonable — she must have sensed he was a slimeball.

        And on a writer level, if she weren’t nuts, the story would have been much, much shorter.

        (I do wonder, though, if Does the Dog Die was a little lax on the animal cruelty aspect. Drugging kittens seems really thuggish. Also, the enforced walk was not pleasant for the pampered dears. But then again, I also wonder if they weren’t a little bit strict on the Austin Powers 2nd movie, where the kitty is cryogenically frozen. Can’t remember enough about that movie to really judge.)

    1. “The dog always dies. Go to the library and pick out a book with an award sticker and a dog on the cover. Trust me, that dog is going down.”

      Love Gordon Korman just for that quote alone.

      1. Gordon Korman rocks.

        Literally almost every single book I had to read in middle school featured a dead dog. EXCEPT for The Cay, which featured a dead cat. Oh, and Sarah Plain and Tall, which had a previously dead mom but no pets. Gordon Korman is not wrong.

  2. Having written a book where dogs die I know feel completely horrible about myself. How could I do that? Well something awful had to happen. I supposed one of the kids could have died instead.

    To make it worse I’m sitting here completely surrounded by dog love I don’t deserve. 🙂

    I love my dogs. They make me happy.

  3. I never saw the OLD YELLER movie. But that is because I read the book. I still remember exactly what I was wearing (my blue and green plaid cowgirl shirt with the pearl snap buttons) when I finished it and how my mother wasn’t home and I had to handle all that grief on my own.

  4. Do not watch Hachi! It’s the Richard Gere movie based on the real life story of Hachiko the Akita, but Americanized. (The dog who went to the train station in Japan every day for years to wait for his owner to return home. The Professor had died on campus.) I went through an entire box of tissues.

    1. I saw the trailer and cried, at which point I realized that there was no way I was going to watch the movie itself.

    2. My friend told me about this movie and I cried and cried. I kept telling her to stop but she’d just start back up again.

    3. Oh God I cried hard to that movie. Pretty much the whole second half. Then the whole way through all the DVD specials. I think I burst a couple of blood vessels that night…

  5. I hate stories where the pet dies. Or the kid dies. (Okay, except for The Good Son where the child who is a psychopath has to die.) You’re right Jenny: that’s not tugging on heartstrings, it’s setting them on fire with kerosene and traumatizing us all. Bambi? Sooo not a kids’ movie.

    1. Bambi is the worst – killing off the mother and an animal at the same time. Two ugly Disney trends combined in one deceptive package, guaranteed to traumatize children (and their parents). My poor nephew melted down during the beginning of Finding Nemo, for the same reason.

  6. I’m the only person I know who knew the dog died and refused to read the book or watch the movie. I typically avoid *any* media where I know going in that there’s dog-death, child-death, rape, hack-n-slash horror, or voter suppression.

    It’s just more than my tender sensibilities can stand.

  7. Annnnnnnd. AMEN!!!! It really makes me so angry when the story line hinges on the animal gaining recognition/hero status through their death! Grrrrr! How about a great story where the animals change human lives, and gets to live and be loved forever?! (Ahem, Dogs and Godesses, anyone???)
    Seriously I cried at an episode of Bones where a “pet” tiger attacked someone and they killed it and half ass buried it. The rest of the story line became irrelevant to me, because it mirrors too closely people who get a pet before fully understanding their nature. In some cases I think the core characters are incapable of carrying off the emotions required in a scene, so hey, yeah, let’s whack the animal. Maybe viewers/readers will connect more!
    Could just be the hormones talking…. ?

  8. I stopped listening to a popular radio station because one of the deejays laughed and made crude jokes about a news item involving the cruel death of a pet. Never went back to them and that was years ago. She may not be a deejay there anymore. I wouldn’t know. Some bridges will stay burned forever.

  9. Old Yeller was brutal for me; the dog I had at the time looked just like him. (Luckily, by our time, there were rabies shots!)

    When I was in sixth grade, we had to read Where the Red Fern Grows. Apparently, the teachers all understood how bad it was going to be, because it was the only book the entire class read at the same time. I guess we were still reading everything out loud at the time, because the synchronous reading was done so that the last chapter could be played over the loudspeaker (a recording a teacher had done years ago), and thus no one had to try to choke out the words. I can’t imagine what any visitors would have thought that day; the entire class was sobbing through first period…

  10. I’m with Tamsin…I won’t see/read anything I know there is an animal death. I think I’ve mentioned here before, that I quit reading Nora Roberts because she killed an animal in a horrid way. Linda Lael Miller on the other hand ALWAYS has a rescued animal so I know I’m safe. Animal cruelty in any way to promote a story is a sure way to make me stop reading an author…EXCEPT, I did enjoy Crazy for You. I wanted to reach into the book and beat the crap out of the jerk when he kicked the dog. But, I understood that we had to know how crazy this guy really was. Whats really sad is I was married to that guy. My ex is nuts too. The first time he slapped my dog in the face I was outta there! Have Dog will Travel.

  11. Thanks for the link, Jenny. Agree with your write-up re Old Yeller. And I would add Born Free to my list of movies that traumatized me as a kid.

    I have not watched animal related stories since & never shared them with my son while he was growing up. Not even Bambi.

    The movie I mentioned on another blog post that I didn’t even want in the house had a dog related scene in it that crossed the line for me–not a death, but just a no.

    And @Kate George: I understand your post-writing feelings about your dog scene. I once included a scene in an early draft of a book that included a scene where a dog was not hurt at all, but people thought he was & an agent told me it didn’t work. I believed her & took it out even though it was innocent. An important lesson I learned there was that sometimes readers skim or speed read and don’t take in the nuances. But it was a rookie mistake on my part. Sounds like maybe it was the same for you and you’ve done well by it ever since–exactly the right thing to do–learn & move on:)

  12. If you cannot stomach animal suffering, then for the love of that is holy, don’t read Bait Dog by Chuck Wendig. No matter how well written and awesome it is. Do not go there. It makes Old Yeller look like Milo & Otis.

  13. I agree – Disney sure did kill alot of cuddly animals. Jerk.

    I hate all kinds of books and movies that make me sad. If I want to cry, I’ll just balance my checkbook.

  14. And ditto for the horse. Geezus. I’m not sure how I survived Black Beauty. And then the remake of True Grit, proving once again that John Wayne really was the greatest cowboy of ’em all. He saved the girl and didn’t have to kill off the horse to do it.

  15. _Where the Red Fern Grows_. F*CK that book. When my seven-year-old read it, he finished sitting next to me on my bed. He shut it and sat very very still. I looked down and saw the title and said, “Honey? Do you need to cry?” and he said, “Yes please,” and THREW himself into my arms and SOBBED.

  16. I saw Old Yeller at a drive in movie – which shows you how long ago that was – and cried all night. I still don’t even want to talk about that show, and YES! What you said about Walt Disney. I was horse crazy (uhmmm, well, still am) when I was young and I read The Red Pony not realizing what it was about. And I still won’t watch the sequel to Man from Snowy River because DENNY (Jim’s little dun horse) died! And added NOTHING to the story.

    1. Totally agree about the sequel to Snowy River, which was pretty bad for any number of reasons, but killing Denny? Really?

  17. I used to visit an indie author site called Why Is My Book Not Selling, where indie authors posted their covers and blurbs and a short excerpt for critique by other indies. One of the books opened with a dog’s death. Universal answer: No one keeps reading when you kill a dog in the first paragraph!

  18. Cujo – aak! After Cujo and Pet Sematary (sic) I couldn’t bring myself to read any more Stephen King. Thanks for the tip – I’m going to go tell my daughter about Does the Dog Die? One question – does it warn about cat deaths, too?

  19. Never watched Old Yeller or read the book, watched PharLap and could have shot myself after because I cried For. Days! Will never watch War Horse no matter how wonderful it’s supposed to be, was really pissed at the Bones episode where the dog killed someone (for no other reason than he was doing What He Was Told) and though Bones wanted him, they’d put him down…

    I have too many real life things I’ve seen happen to animals that I can’t scrub from my mind. Why in the Holy Crow’s name would I want to watch that stuff in a movie? Or read it in a book?

    I rescue dogs, I can’t stand to read about them dying, thankyouverymuch.

  20. In the director’s commentaries for “Once upon a time in Mexico” Robert Rodriguez talks about how many people came up to him and commented on how glad they were that the dog lived.

    His commentaries and ten-minute schools are the best. And he let the dog live. This is why I’m a fan. 😀

  21. Oh, that address to Walt just made my happy day. And reading the book nearly did me in. The Yearling as well. I did love Born Free though, and for the longest time that was my image of Africa. ALL of Africa. I wanted to grow up and live in a tent with a lion.

  22. My kiddo made me laugh watching Lion King a couple of years ago. She’d watched it multiple times, but one afternoon watching the stampede scene she teared up. I hugged her and asked if she was okay. At which point she cried. Not about Mufasa’d death, but that the tree that Simba had been clinging to “will never grow again!”. Subtext, from a 4 year old? Keeping a straight face at her crying about a cartoon tree was difficult, I have to admit.

    1. I have read every Argh Ink, Re- Fab posts in existence and a great many of the “He said, She said” posts , but I’m a mostly lurker. I do have to comment on this.

      I feel exactly like you. I can’t stand seeing, reading or hearing about a dog (or other animal) being hurt or abandoned, or mistreated in any way. It can stay with me for years. My dogs are my children, just like my daughters and son. I wish I could rescue every abandoned and abused dog in the world. So sad that it’s not possible for any of us.

      I was this way when I was a still a baby. All anyone had to do was sing this little song and I would bawl my eyes out:

      I had a little doggie, who used to sit and beg.
      But doggie tumbled down the steps and broke his little leg.
      Now doggie I won’t hurt. I’ll try to make you well.
      And I’ll give you a little collar with a little silver bell.

      It always seemed to me that the prognosis for the doggie was pretty poor if she could only try to make him well. “Old Yeller” and “The Yearling’ nearly finished me off.

      I was traumatized for life when I asked my mother if dogs went to heaven, and she said she didn’t know whether they had souls or not. This was weird because she and my uncle were great dog lovers, too! I know that they do, or the afterlife (whatever it may consist of) will be empty for me.

        1. There are going to be so many waiting there for my husbands and me. It’s going to have to be a big group hug first.

      1. My mom passed away in November of last year. A weird thing happened just a couple of weeks before she died. Two of her dogs died (of old age) and two of her beloved stray cats died (got hit by cars). At first I thought it was sad and it sucked that mom’s pets were dying too. But I’m a firm believer of an afterlife so I like to think that she and her pets are together somewhere. Maybe they left here to be with her someplace else. I’m 51 and it may be a childish thought, but it gives me comfort to think that my mom isn’t alone. She’s with the people and pets that she’s loved in her life. So, I do believe animals go to heaven or share an afterlife with the rest of us.

      2. Glad you posted, Beverly:) Especially this:

        “It can stay with me for years.”

        I’m deeply affected by real-life animal suffering & it sticks with me, too. Even my hubby can tell straight away if I’ve heard about something. He’s always telling me not to read the little news blurbs off to the side when I check the TV listings channel because there’s so often something sad there. And surprisingly explicit in detail considering the sound-bite format. But I think that as much as my sensitivity can be hard on me, that it’s made me more active in helping, so I think it’s a gift.

        Plus, I think that because our household is so animal conscious, that my son takes that helping forward so it moves to the next generation. Love that. Really, it’s a gift that keeps on giving.

        And no worries on an empty afterlife for you–all those animal spirits will definitely still be around. Just like humans, all the animals I’ve met (and that’s a lot) have distinct personalities that can only come from unique souls. Very special ones:)

  23. You’re right, Jenny. These write-ups lack heart. A Fish Called Wanda, for example, neglects to mention the utter utter torment suffered by Michael Palin each time he accidentally kills one of the dogs instead of their owner.

  24. I remember reading some medieval romance where the hero has a beloved warrior horse and the heroine takes off on his horse trying to get away from him or something and forces the horse to take a jump over a gorge and it doesn’t want to but obeys her but throws her off and he plunges to his death and believe you me, that damned heroine wasn’t sorry enough and the guy forgave her. I was like, NFW!! It might have been a Judith McNaught or Julie Garwood book. I remember a movie with Kirk Douglas that I watched when I was a kid (Lonely are the Brave, maybe) where he’s a cowboy on the lam and forces his horse across the highway to escape and the horse gets hit by a truck (symbolizing the death of the old west or something) and I HATED Kirk Douglas for twenty years or so. I still haven’t forgiven him for endangering his beloved, so loyal horse. don’t make me think about it. I had the same Old Yeller experience. ALL that said, in the fullness of time I have come to realize that even though I hated those movies, I do think all children need to deal with the loss of beloved pet – it’s really not good for us to think nothing will ever change or that we won’t lose someone we love dearly. It helps us learn to be more empathetic to others’ losses as well. Cause that pain is for real. Don’t hit me for saying that!!

  25. I was traumatized not only by Where the Red Fern Grows, but also ” The Woven Path” by Robin Jarvis. In the story a dog is stoned nearly to death. Graphic description of the poor dog, which I will spare you, follows before a “kind” person kills it out of mercy. This is a young adult book. I couldn’t finish it.

  26. I won’t read Paul Auster any more because I read Timbuktu and the poor dog which is the protagonist has a life that gets worse and worse and worse and ends up, sick and old and confused, getting hit by a car on the highway. And there the book ends. I only kept reading it because I thought, someone’s GOTTA save the dog. Nope.

    I will not read Paul Auster ever again, because he can IMAGINE SUCH A CRUEL LIFE for a dog. He is now, for me, an irretrievably cruel and horrible person and will never get another dime from me in royalties.

    I *know* the dog was *fictional.* But it was too close to all those poor creatures I cannot help save, and whose horrible stories we hear about over and over. Doesn’t change a thing.

    Argh. I still have nightmares about the ending. I am going home to have a drink and try to forget it again.

  27. I’m THRILLED to see there are others like me. If I want cruelty I turn on the news. Yes, I read Old Yeller when I was a kid and yes, 50 years later, I’ve never forgotten it. Maybe that’s what the author’s goal was but I’ll never thank him for THAT memory.

  28. And this kind of thing (well all the horrible things that people are warning about here, and believe me, I’m grateful, because my vow never to read Old Yeller or see Bambi hasn’t saved me from stuff I didn’t realize ahead of time would be bad) is just one more reason why I so appreciate authors like Georgette Heyer ,with her young lady heroine who saves mistreated dogs in the street even when it means certain social ruin. Somebody should make a rating scale and do some serious publicizing of it.

  29. C’mon you guys, where’s Pa going with the axe ? A SPIDER saves Wilbur!!
    Nobody mentioned Marjorie Kinnan Rawlings The Yearling. I had it in hardcover. Yes the yearling gets shot for eating the corn, but theNC Wyeth illustrations make it okay.

  30. Thankful that we were never forced to read Where the Red Fern Grows. I have to wonder what the heck is in the minds of principals & teachers when they assign that as reading for kids in the elementary.

    On a happier note, please find and read Fiona Apple’s absolutely wonderful letter about cancelling her concert tour for her dog. You can disagree with her lifestyle and her music, but MY GOD, that letter will make you cry like a baby (in a good way).

  31. I only know one movie where the dog dies that I am willing to recommend. “My Dog Skip” is a tear-jerker about a boy who grows into a man and of course the dog grows very old alongside him and…But the story ia about the power of the love between the two and the death is earned, in the sense that it comes at the natural end of a long life and not because the writer didn’t know how to make us care about anything else. It’s the life story of a great dog. Sad ending that honors the dog.

    The day my mother had her fatal heart attack, she was in the hospital recovering from pneumonia. Her hospital aide (whom we did not know) told me she “saw” three figures in the room– her deceased father, a man named Jesse and a black cat. The aide’s father had just died; his name was Jesse. And my black cat had just passed. A few hours later, she had the heart attack. So I am pretty sure heaven has animals and they are waiting for us.

  32. I remember watching an old John Wayne western – can’t remember the name but it involved cavalry and lots of running horses. They had a mascot dog at the fort, and he went running out with the soldiers who were running into battle with the Indians. I didn’t see the dog any more until the battle was over and he came running along. All through the battle all I could think of was — “Is the dog OK? Is he still alive?” As a youngster I was in tears until I knew the dog was OK.

    And don’t even get me started on Old Yeller. I cried buckets. . .

    Glad to know about the site!!

  33. The opening scene in Gladiator. Russell Crow on a horse with a strong defiant GSD keeping pace. Of course there were no German Shepherds in Roman times but that’s beside the point.

  34. I was just thinking of My Dog Skip in the same way too. I cried at Old Yeller. And, I know this isn’t exactly the same but I would cry when Frosty the Snowman melted. It seems like they could have ended it with Frosty intact. There’s a great kids/YA book called Blitzcat by Robert Westall. During WWII, a cat tries to find her person while he’s serving in the war. Along the way, she takes shelter with a widow who doesn’t treat the cat right at first (that’s an understatement), but then the widow redeems herself.

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