In 2016, a study was quoted in Psychology Today that concluded that people who have a dog in their life are likely to bring “more energy and vitality to their romantic relationships”. The study stated: “there’s an old saying that, observing how a potential partner interacts with their pets tells a lot about how they’ll behave in a long-term relationship.”
That unbreakable bond between people and their pets is the theme of the warm and witty Dog Days. Elizabeth (Nina Dobrev) is a charming newscaster, settling into single life and battling the on-screen chemistry with her new co-anchor and former National Football League star Jimmy Johnston (Tone Bell). She seeks advice from her dog’s therapist Danielle (Tig Notaro).
Tara (Vanessa Hudgens) is a spunky barista who dreams of a life beyond the coffee shop with her crush, hunky vet Dr Mike (Michael Cassidy), while her friend Daisy (Lauren Lapkus), a lovelorn dog walker, is enamoured with a client she hasn’t quite met yet.
Meanwhile, Garrett (Jon Bass), owner of New Tricks Dog Rescue, pines after Tara while trying to keep his struggling dog adoption business afloat.
Soon-to-be parents to twins Ruth (Jessica St. Clair) and Greg (Thomas Lennon) reluctantly leave their big mischievous mutt in the care of Ruth’s brother Dax (Adam Pally), an irresponsible man-child in a band with his ex-girlfriend Lola (Jasmine Cephas Jones). Grace (Eva Longoria) and Kurt (Rob Corddry) anxiously await the arrival of their adopted daughter Amelia (Elizabeth Caro), whose life inadvertently converges with that of Walter (Ron Cephas Jones), an elderly widower who’s lost his overweight pug.
Highlights the everyday connections between people and their dogs
Tyler (Finn Wolfhard), the neighbourhood pizza delivery boy, befriends Walter and helps him search for his beloved pet. Dog Days highlights the everyday connections between people and their dogs in Los Angeles as they uncover life lessons and new relationships.
The human cast forms part of a larger ensemble including, of course, a pack of talented canines. Mark Harden, a senior animal trainer at the Los Angeles-based Animals for Hollywood, coordinated the dog action on the Dog Days set. He went through what seems to be an elaborate casting process not just for three of the five main doggy cast members, but also for a number of canine extras.
When Harden read the script, and saw the personality of Charlie – the dog Ruth gives to her brother Dax – he suggested one pooch performer specifically.
“I rarely push to cast a certain dog,” says Harden. “But, our labradoodle Tucker had the perfect personality to play Charlie. That was awesome, because he’s a lot of fun to work with, and he really is the character.”
As for Elizabeth’s dog Sam, Harden saw the range that was required and recommended another special dog.
“In the script, Sam is supposed to be sad, and reflects Elizabeth’s emotions after her breakup and during her dating issues with Jimmy. So, the dog is on a little bit of an emotional rollercoaster, and that’s what our dog Benny could do; he can look really sad, because he’s got a bit of dachshund in him, and then he can look happy and exuberant. He’s a lot of fun.”
For Walter’s dog, there was a different challenge. “Mabel has an arc in her character where she has to lose weight after she’s been separated from Walter, so we cast two different Mabels,” says Harden. “One of them was our pug Gracie, who is a normal size and shape. Then we had to go and find a different pug that was a bit overweight, but still healthy and able to be trained. We found one and had her for about five weeks. They were both awesome.” It’s a dog’s life!
Dog Days is directed by Ken Marino and written by Elissa Matsueda and Erica Oyama.
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