Dog Gone Review – heartfelt and hopeful

By Emma Vine
Published: January 15, 2023 (Last updated: December 14, 2023)


Dog Gone is a heartwarming depiction of the bond shared between a dog and its owner, as well as showcasing the rebuilding of a father/son relationship in an unexpected yet beautiful way.

We review the Netflix film Dog Gone, which was released on January 13, 2023. This review does not contain spoilers.

From the comedy reflected in Marley & Me to the heartache felt when watching Hachi: A Dog’s Tale, there’s no doubt that films depicting our four-legged friends are ones that resonate with viewers. This comes as no surprise, considering dogs are the world’s number one pet and are full of loyalty and love to give. Netflix’s Dog Gone is no exception to that rule, and though full of joyous moments, it also illustrates a pet owner’s worst nightmare, the disappearance of a companion.

Dog Gone Review and Plot Summary

Based on true-life events, the story follows Fielding Marshall (Johnny Berchtold), a college student who, after a difficult breakup, is inspired to adopt a furry friend. While at the local shelter, he spots a yellow lab mix that he feels instantly connected to and brings the new puppy back to his accommodation, later naming him Gonker.

After graduating, Fielding moves back to his family home with his beloved dog, but it takes his parents some time to warm to the four-legged inhabitant. Eventually, they fall in love with their new pet and enjoy his company almost as much as their son.

During a visit to the vet, Gonker is diagnosed with a severe health condition requiring a shot every 30 days to avoid life-threatening complications. Then, when matters couldn’t get any worse, the family’s cherished companion goes missing during a trip to the Appalachian Trail after chasing a fox into the woods.

In a race against time to find Gonker before he misses his next shot, which would put his health in significant danger, the family searches far and wide for their dog, even recruiting the local media to help bring him home safely.

Though the premise of Dog Gone centers around Gonker’s disappearance, the film also focuses on personal growth, challenges the characters are facing internally, and their need to address them.

Ginny is traumatized from a childhood experience involving a pet. Into adulthood, she can never shake the guilt and upset from the incident, which is brought even more to light after Gonker goes missing. Likewise, Fielding and John’s strained relationship is a perfect example of how, in certain situations, a crisis can bring people together again.

The disappearance of Gonker, though devastating, forces the father and son to reconnect, and seeing it all unfold onscreen is beautiful to watch.

It is only when Fielding and John spend more time together that Fielding’s father recognizes his admirable traits. Dog Gone also shows the commitment, dedication, and passion Fielding has for Gonker and how strong the bond between a dog and its owner can be. If you’re a dog owner, you will undoubtedly understand Fielding’s position. Each day that goes by without Gonker is gut-wrenching, though the family still holds onto glimpses of hope, and as a viewer, you are drawn in emotionally and can feel their yearning and pain.

Director Stephen Herek does a fantastic job of capturing the sentimental moments between the family members, especially regarding the interactions between John and Fielding. The camera close-ups give the father and son heart-to-hearts their moment to shine, and even when the open wilderness surrounds the pair, there’s still an intimacy between the two that feels authentic and sincere.

Rob Lowe, Kimberly Williams-Paisley, and Berchtold’s performances reflect the emotional turmoil the family is going through while they wish for Gonker’s return, and the hope reflected through each character hits the mark. There are some gimmicky moments in the film accompanied by some cheesy dialogue, but should we expect any less from a feel-good family movie?

Is Dog Gone on Netflix good?

While Dog Gone is by no means the film of the year, it’s certainly worth the watch. Though, you must be warned that there will likely be tears. Not only does the film reflect the heartwarming companionship between a dog and its owner, but the true story that unfolds is fascinating when you take a step back and think about the circumstances surrounding it.

Dog Gone also makes you appreciate family relationships more, reminding viewers that there is the ability and potential to rebuild connections with loved ones that may have faltered along the way.

What did you think of the Netflix film Dog Gone? Comment below. 

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