Red Dog: Nobody’s dog, or everybody’s?
We love a good dog movie. We even love a bad dog movie. “Red Dog” — the tale of a stray who wandered Australia’s outback in the 1970s — looks like it might be the former.
The movie, starring a dog named Koko as Red Dog — he’s a kelpie — made its premiere in Australia this week, to mostly good reviews.
Based on those, the book that inspired it, and on the movie trailer, we — not having the vaguest idea of how movie distribution works — say send it on over our way, mates, preferably with, rather than subtitles, a glossary of Australian slang for when we get stumped by the strange words you sometimes utter.
In all seriousness — at a time when not just some Chinese cities, but some U.S. towns, are rounding up and euthanizing strays — we detect in the movie a message worth sharing: That dogs who, through human sloth and neglect, end up as strays, aren’t disposable. That dogs who belong to no one belong to everyone. That, whether they are hitchhiking in Australia or turning over garbage cans in Fayetteville, N.C., homeless dogs, rather than being slapped with the label “feral” and put down, deserve a second chance.
That may not be the movie’s intended message — I haven’t seen it — but it is mine.
The movie is based on the 2002 book by English author Louis de Bernieres.
In 1998, de Bernieres was invited to Karratha, in northwest Australia, for the town’s first literary event. The manager of his hotel loaned him a vehicle so he could tour around in a land that, known mostly for mining, seldoms draws tourists.
Around Dampier he spotted a statue of a dog on the side of the road.
“It said something like ‘Red Dog 1979, erected by his friends’ – something like that. So I thought, ‘That’s really interesting, who is this Red Dog and why has he got a statue?’ I started asking questions.”
The author hung around town for a while, gathering Red Dog lore and making a map of all the various spots Red Dog spent time in. He returned two years later to do further research.
Red Dog had accrued quite a history, as it turned out, and was said to have hitched rides with locals and truck drivers from Karratha as far south as Perth and as far east as Darwin, according to the Sydney Morning Herald.
While he was viewed as “everybody’s dog,” Red Dog, in the movie, finally ends up with a permanent human companion.
As the movie trailer concludes, “Sometimes we pick our dogs, sometimes our dogs pick us.”
Before the movie was released, its makers posted on the Internet what they say is Koko’s audition tape. Here’s a look at it:
Posted by jwoestendiek August 4th, 2011 under Muttsblog, videos.
Tags: audition, australia, author, book, books on dogs, dampier, darwin, everybodys dog, feral dogs, hitchhiker, hitchhiking, homeless dogs, karratha, kelpie, koko, louis de bernieres, miners, mining, movie, movies on dogs, outback, perth, red dog, statue, stray dogs, tape, trailer, video