Some animal rights activists and vegans have strong opinions about using K-9’s for police work and in battle. Dogs and horses have been used in that capacity since the dawn of human conflict. After reading “Warrior Dog” and other books about dogs in battle, I’m all for it.
Channing Tatum’s Directorial Debut“Dog” follows Army Ranger Jackson Briggs (Tatum) who’s desperately trying to get back to doing what he does best (warfighting) after recuperating from a brain injury that terminated his career.
His commanding officer assigns him instead to drive Lulu, a Ranger K-9 who served in Afghanistan, to Arizona in his ’84 Bronco, for the military funeral of his ex-teammate Riley Rodriguez (Eric Urbiztondo), who was also Lulu’s handler. Lulu will be euthanized, post-funeral, because her PTSD and anxiety make her too dangerous for adoption (Lulu is played by three dogs: Britta, Lana, and Zuza).
It’s a difficult but mutually life-altering road trip for both of them, as Briggs and Lulu are both suffering from their time in the teams. “Dog” follows their misadventures, some funny, some sad, as they inadvertently stumble upon a “sea of green,” (a marijuana plantation) hidden in the woods. Gus, the “farmer” (Kevin Nash, former WWE professional wrestler) shoots Briggs with a tranquilizer gun to comic effect. Gus’s questionably psychic wife (Jane Adams) sets in motion the healing of Lulu’s psychological issues.
Later, Briggs and Lulu crash a five-star hotel by pretending to be a blind vet with a seeing-eye dog, which is fun until the dog obeys its years of training and starts mauling a man in the lobby dressed in Middle-Eastern Taliban garb. (He’s a doctor.)
No Footage of Combat Mauling“Dog” is a lighthearted comedic handling of what could easily be much darker. These dogs are weaponized, after all. Special operators don’t call them “fur missiles” for nothing. But it’s mostly Channing Tatum directing himself in his stock character of a hunky, low-key, affable, quippy meathead who happens to be chauffeuring a high-maintenance ex-fur-missile 1,230 miles. There’s much wheedling, cajoling, sweet-talking, pleading, bickering, and fighting with his passenger, who’s excess energy, among other things, leads to passenger seats being mauled beyond recognition.
The comedic potential of playing a gung-ho Ranger off Portland, Oregon’s woke, 20-something populace is amusing. Like the granola-crunchy tantric sex therapists Briggs meets in a bar, and the various toxic feminists who spew vociferous opinions about the hard men who stand guard over America’s freedoms (so they don’t have to).
We learn about the combat/medical-history journals that Rangers create for their dogs, which include photos, sketches, and operation summaries.
More About Warrior DogsThe following is not emphasized in the movie, but that fact is, K-9’s noses and bite-ability save countless human lives. For example, the Belgian Malinois used by U.S. special operations military are not just, say, Navy SEAL dogs; they’re dog Navy SEALS, the canine equivalent of their human teammates. They’re handpicked for natural tendencies that make them the most hyper, energetic, incredibly annoying dogs that no regular human could handle. Military handlers then take that raw talent and train them into highly disciplined warriors.
We needn’t get too sentimental about it. Military personnel are warned by dog handlers not to treat the dogs like Fido. When they crawl up on the couch to watch TV and put their paw on you, it’s not cute—the dog is establishing dominance. They’re extremely dangerous.