What happens to old dogs when their owners either no longer want them or can no longer care of them? Many of these dogs are put down. Others languish in shelters. These dogs are not as appealing to adopters. Their days are dwindling and many suffer from health issues that require expensive treatments. But what if there was a way to extend the quality of life for elder pups? What if they could enjoy their final days in a happy environment where all of their physical and emotional needs met? For Zina and Michael Goodwin, this was the goal. At first they began caring for a few elderly dogs. And then they took care of more. And more. A few became many. While some dogs lived for just a few weeks or a few months more, those final days were happy ones.
Directed by Gorman Bechard, Old Friends, A Dogumentary is the story of the Goodwins and their elderly dog sanctuary Old Friends in Mount Juliet, Tennessee. What started as a small charitable effort out of the Goodwin’s home blossomed into a whole operation complete with a state-of-the-art facility. Old Friends has an on-site veterinary hospital, full-time caretakers and even physical therapists on hand to care for these dogs in their final days. It’s like an upscale retirement home for elderly dogs. They manage a dog’s health problems, are regularly evaluating their residents quality of life and even work on problem behaviors. They’re regularly expanding and by the end of the documentary we see their plans for the near future. Old Friends is funded by donations and have found much support from their social media. Members of the local community, referred to as Geezer Guardians, help out by fostering the dogs and essentially expanding Old Friends’ efforts.
This is a very bare bones (pun intended) documentary. It watches more like a very long advertisement for Old Friends than it does an actual documentary. However, dog lovers, like myself, will easily overlook this as the film’s story pulls on our heart strings. You’ll want to have some tissues nearby because it will leave you a sobbing mess.
Old Friends, A Dogumentary is a relentlessly positive and uplifting film that will appeal to anyone who truly loves dogs.
Old Dogs, A Dogumentary premiered at the 2022 Nashville Film Festival.
Directed and produced by Samantha Wishman and Christina Thomas, Free Puppies!: The True Story of Rescue Dogs explores the lives of abandoned and neglected dogs in the rural South and the extraordinary efforts made to rescue them and to control the ever-growing population in the community.
This documentary focuses primarily on the work of Monda Wooten, a small business owner and city commissioner for Trenton, Georgia, who has made it her life’s mission to help rescue dogs in her area. We follow along as Wooten and other rescuers as they work with locals to get dogs spayed and neutered and to place abandoned dogs in loving homes.
This film really touched my heart because my dog Rollie is a rescue from a rural region of West Virginia. He and another dog were abandoned on the side of the road and with the help of a nice lady they were rescued, fostered and ultimately transported up to New England where they were adopted.
The work Wooten and the rescuers do is invaluable, especially all of their efforts to make spaying and neutering affordable for low-income families. In the doc we see a veterinarian whose sole job is to spay and neuter which keeps her overhead costs down so she can offer the service to these communities. This is such a fantastic idea.
Free Puppies! will take viewers on a gentle rollercoaster ride of hope and heartbreak. It’s both rewarding to see the rescuers at work and sad to see the state of things. This film offers an abundance of empathy for both the dogs and the people in the community.
Free Puppies! is distributed by First Run Features. It hits theaters across North America on August 12th, 2022. Visit the official website for more details.
This gentle poetic film follows the story of Sebastian (Daniel Katz), a young graphic designer making his way through life. His sweet dog misses him when he’s gone. Her cries annoy the neighbors Sebastian’s employers don’t want her around either. As time passes, Sebastian mourns the death of his dog, struggles to find steady work and becomes a new father. Then there is a new pandemic which causes humans to pass out if they stand up straight. In order to survive humans must crouch under 4 feet or wear an expensive bubble over their heads.
Directed by Ana Katz, The Dog Who Wouldn’t Be Quiet/El perro que no calla is a somber film that covers a lot of ground in just over an hour. It’s shot in black and white and the lead actor Katz offers a beautifully subdued performance. However, despite its best intentions the film falls flat offering the viewer little by way of substance. For dog lovers, the early scenes are really tough to watch. A couple poignant scenes are told through hand-drawn illustrations. I wish this would have been implemented more. I also had hoped that the unusual pandemic was a more substantial part of the film and would be explained. I couldn’t quite connect with the story or the main character expect for his genuine connection with his dog.
The Dog Who Wouldn’t Be Quiet/El perro que no calla premiered at the virtual 2021 Sundance Film Festival as part of the World Cinema Dramatic Competition.
Dogs bring us so much joy. They care not about our race, ethnicity, appearance, status, reputation or wealth (or lack thereof). They love us unconditionally in a way that other humans are incapable of. That’s why people from all walks of life love dogs. Some mistreat them but many of us fight for their rights. Dogs are a beloved member of our global family.
“A relationship with a dog is better than any relationship you’ll have with a human… They don’t know the bad side. They just know the good side.”
Directed by Matthew Sellah and produced by Rose Tucker, We Don’t Deserve Dogs is a series of vignettes about the impact dogs have on humans. Numerous countries are represented. Some of the most interesting stories include Ugandan kidnapping survivors who use dogs as a form of therapy for their PTSD, an older gentleman who is still haunted by the memory of abandoning his dog 20 years earlier, the Chilean street dog who goes by many names and depends on the kindness of strangers and the dog walker in Istanbul who walks over 30km a day taking care of the neighborhood dogs. The filmmakers interview a wide variety of subjects. Each story is unique in its own way. The cinematography is quite stunning. Low shots at the dogs’ level make for a very intimate point of view.
The film was shot over 13 months and in 11 countries including Chile, Uganda, Peru, Italy, Turkey, Pakistan, Finland, Romania, Vietnam, Nepal, and Scotland.
I had two major issues with the film. First of all, there was no lower third. The audience doesn’t learn the names of the subjects or where their from. I could pick up on some clues but otherwise I was confused about which countries are represented. This may be to strip the focus away from the humans and onto the dogs but I think a lower third could have helped. The second is a huge trigger for dog lovers. One vignette follows a Vietnamese couple who kill dogs and sell their meat. The dogs provide a form of income for them but I do think this segment was unnecessary and difficult to watch. Removing it would make for a better film overall.
We Don’t Deserve Dogs was set to have its world premiere at the SXSW film festival. You can find more information about the film over on the Urtext Films website.
A routine operation on a dog ends in tragedy when veterinarian Mario (Guillermo Arengo) makes a crucial mistake. Whether it was negligence or an error in judgment we’re not sure. What we do know is that the dog is dead and the owner is mad.
Mario and his recent retiree wife Silvia (Pelusa Vidal) live cushy lives in Montevideo, Uruguay and they want to keep it that way. The dog’s death is a catalyst for the chaos in their lives. Protestors make a scene outside Mario’s clinic. Someone has broken into their home and Silvia suspects their maid. When Mario and Silvia stay at their daughter’s home for a while, paranoia sets in. A violent act sets Mario and Silvia in motion to preserve their status quo.
Written and directed by Matias Ganz, A Dog’s Death/La Muerte de un perro is a quiet and subversive thriller that demonstrates the lengths people will go to keep their comfortable lifestyles. There is a clear message about the social and economic inequalities of present day Uruguay. The subjects who suffer the most are the maid and her boyfriend who are lower on the social ladder as indigenous blue collar workers. Mario and Silvia as more prosperous Caucasians benefit from their status and can easily cover up their irrational behaviors.
Ganz was inspired to tell a story about the social and political turmoil of his home country with an influx of immigrants and a strong culture that takes pride in their European ancestry. In his director’s statement he says…
“A large part of the country’s population is of European descent and does not feel like they belong to those who have been wrongfully named Latinos… Politicians latch on to any petty crime to enhance their electoral chances… thus feeding the people’s growing sense of insecurity.”
A Dog’s Death/La Muerte de un perro captures the social turmoil of a country in flux through its focus on the absurd actions of a microcosm of its upper middle class culture.
A Dog’s Death/La Muerte de un perro had its North American premiere at the 2020 Slamdance Film Festival.