Dogs have been a part of art and literature for as long as they have been domesticated. This goes back as far as ancient mythology. Cerberus was the three-headed dog who guarded the gates of Hades. (Interestingly, a financial company called Cerberus Capital once owned Chrysler Motors.) One of the most scintillating Sherlock Holmes novels, The Hounds of the Baskervilles, posited dogs as the protagonists.
A Future with Dogs
There have been artificial dogs in science fiction entertainment, and not just in the CGI era. Montag, the protagonist in Ray Bradbury’s Fahrenheit 451, was attacked by a Mechanical Hound after he killed his boss; it shot a tranquilizer needle into the rogue fireman’s leg before he destroyed it with a flamethrower. Three decades later, when sci-fi first began to dominate the box office, the robotic Muffit II was created by Dr. Wilker aboard the Battlestar Galactica to replace young Boxey’s “daggit”, Muffit, who was killed by falling debris during a Ceylon raid.
Keep Plenty of Biscuits in Their Trailers
Overall, the roles of dogs in entertainment have varied from comedic (The Shaggy D.A.) to horrifying (Stephen King’s Cujo). Homeward Bound, which included a cat and was based on a true story, personified dogs through human voice-overs. In other instances, such as Beethoven and Air Bud, photogenic pooches have been used to attract – and delight – younger audiences.
Dogs have also been spotted pulling in big ratings on the small screen, even when most television sets were of the black-and-white variety. Lassie was the biggest canine star, of course, using her Collie smarts to protect Timmy and his family from such predators as rattlesnakes, wolves and worse. Rin Tin Tin was another prime-time hero, helping the settlers during their Westward expansion. (A later TV version had him playing a K-9 cop.) Benji was another take on the dog as a leading character, proving that little-dog guile can be as effective as fangs and brawn.