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Spoiler: The Dog Dies

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Jessica, Preston | October 2, 2017

I love a canine companion. What would Lost be without Vincent the Labrador? Legally Blonde without Bruiser the Chihuahua? The Wonderful Wizard of Oz without Toto? There’s only one downside to a lovable furry friend in fiction: Canine characters often don’t make it out alive.

There’s a fine line between sad and downright depressing. I can handle human characters dying, but authors need to leave dogs alone. What reader wants to invest hours in a book only to be ambushed by some poor dog getting starved to death or shot by hunters or impaled by an angry neighbour’s garden fork?

Stories with dog deaths should come with warning labels.

Movie fans, there’s hope: the website Does the Dog Die offers an ever-growing list of films that kill off or injure their canine characters. So now I know I’m safe watching Man of Steel and Saving Mr. Banks, but I should avoid Moonrise Kingdom, Snakes on a Plane, and Jaws (RIP Pippin).

Book fans? You’re pretty much on your own. This Goodreads list offers a number of offending titles, but it’s by no means comprehensive. If you’re reading a book with a lovable pooch, try not to get too attached – there’s always a chance the author has something unpleasant in store for your fictional four-legged friend.

I’m looking at you, A Dog’s Purpose. And you, Where the Red Fern Grows! How could you, I Am Legend? Why did you hurt me, Old Yeller?!

SweetlandSnakes on a PlaneA Dog's Purpose book coverOld Yeller book cover