Dog Gone parents guide

Dog Gone Parent Guide

This film is as warm and cozy as snuggling up with your own beloved dog.

Overall B

Netflix: A father and son set out on the Appalachian Trail to find their beloved lost dog.

Release date January 13, 2023

Violence A-
Sexual Content A
Profanity B
Substance Use A-

Why is Dog Gone rated TV-PG? The MPAA rated Dog Gone TV-PG for fear.

Run Time: 95 minutes

Parent Movie Review

Fielding (Johnny Berchtold) is in his senior year of college but feels aimless. As all of his friends are landing impressive post-graduation jobs, he still has no idea what he wants to do with his life. On a whim, he goes to a local shelter and adopts a puppy, a golden retriever he affectionately names “Gonker”. Fielding’s parents (Rob Lowe and Kimberly Williams-Paisley), who are already not thrilled about having their adult son move back home with them, are not impressed by the high energy, barely trained animal that is creating havoc. Gonker’s affectionate nature soon wins them both over and soon the whole family is head over heels in love with him.

After some troubling medical symptoms, Gonker is rushed to an animal hospital where he is diagnosed with Addison’s disease, which can be fatal if not treated with an injection every 30 days. Soon after, Gonker goes missing while on the Appalachian Trail. With only 21 days to go until his next shot, the family set out on a desperate search to find their dog, before it’s too late.

Film is an art for which success is measured by how well it identifies its purpose and audience. Not every movie needs to be Oscar-worthy or groundbreaking. Sometimes a film can just be nice and that is enough. Dog Gone is a perfect example of this. It’s not particularly original or compelling, but it’s earnest and sweet. For a general family audience, that’s not a bad thing to be.

Though the story itself is straightforward and charming, the dialogue is often clunky and unnatural. The primary actors are skilled enough to smooth over some of the bumpiness, but many of the side characters aren’t very good actors to begin with, making their dialogue seem even worse by comparison.

With almost no negative content, Dog Gone is a good choice for most audiences. Though not terribly exciting or original, the touching true story is sure to warm a few hearts. The relationship between Fielding and his dad is sure to resonate with many families, even if it resolves a little too neatly to be completely realistic. At the very least, there are multiple cute dogs to look at, which is reason enough to watch a movie in my book!

Directed by Stephen Herek. Starring Rob Lowe, Johnny Berchtold, Kimberly Williams-Paisley. Running time: 95 minutes. Theatrical release January 13, 2023. Updated

Watch the trailer for Dog Gone

Dog Gone
Rating & Content Info

Why is Dog Gone rated TV-PG? Dog Gone is rated TV-PG by the MPAA for fear.

Violence: There is a scene involving one mild threat.
Sexual Content: None.
Profanity:   The script contains three terms of deity and one mild expletive.
Alcohol / Drug Use: There is some adult social drinking.

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Dog Gone Parents' Guide

How does John feel about Fielding’s life choices and how does that make Fielding feel? What do they each learn that helps them start to see eye to eye?

For more about Fielding and Gonker, you can read the following articles:

History vs Hollywood: Dog Gone (2023)

NY Post: This dog walked 111 miles trying to find his way home


Loved this movie? Try these books…

The real story of Gonker is told in Dog Gone: A Lost Pet’s Extraordinary Journey and the Family Who Brought Him Home by Pauls Toutonghi.

Home Video

Related home video titles:

For another feel-good, family-friendly dog story based on real life, you will want to watch Rescued by Ruby, which is also a Netflix production.

If you can’t get enough of cute puppies and want an inspiration tale to boot, you will want to watch Pick of the Litter. This documentary follows a litter of puppies as they are trained to become guide dogs.

More inspiration can be found in Togo, a film based on the true story of a 600 mile sled run through a blizzard to bring diptheria antitoxin to sick children in Alaska. The titular dog and his owner face perils with courage and determination to save the kids. This story is also told in The Great Alaskan Race.

Set in Europe’s Ice Age, Alpha tells the tale of a young man and a wolf, both injured, who help each other survive in the wilderness and find their way home.