From Fido to Film: Examining the Real-Life Inspiration for the Movie “Dog”

Dog movies are almost always a hit, and Channing Tatum’s aptly named Dog was spot on. The movie hit the cinemas on February 18, 2022, and was Tatum’s editorial debut after a long hiatus from Hollywood.

In 2018, the Magic Mike star announced that his beloved furry friend had passed away after a long battle with cancer. With his new dog movie, one cannot help but wonder if Tatum’s own experience inspired the film. So, is the movie Dog based on a true story? Here’s what we know:

What Is The Film Dog About?

Dog is a buddy-comedy film directed by legendary actor Channing Tatum and Reid Carolin, his friend and collaborator on Magic Mike.

The nostalgic narrative tells the story of Briggs, a former US Army Ranger (Channing) responsible for taking Lulu to his previous handler’s funeral. Lulu, a Belgian Malinois, formerly belonged to Sergeant Rodrigez, who passed away while on duty.

Briggs, keen on getting his foot back into the army, works alongside Lulu to impress his supervisors. But, initially, Lulu proves to be a stubborn pooch, and he and Briggs do not really get along.

However, as the unlikely friends journey together on a road trip to Sergeant Rodrigez’s funeral, they form a solid bond and teach each other unforgettable lessons.

Dog: The Real Story Behind Channing Tatum’s Movie

“I will see you again, baby girl,” Tatum captioned a picture of his pitbull Catahoula mix he had posted on Instagram. “Until then, you will always be with me,” continued the caption dated December 2018.

The post related Tatum’s real-life loss of his dear canine friend who battled cancer but gave up the fight at the year’s end in 2018. The actor and his now ex-wife Jenna Dewan adopted the pitbull from an animal shelter when she was just a six-week-old puppy, and she became part and parcel of the family.

Dog is not based on real events. Tatum’s own life experiences inspired parts of the movie. The most telling comparison between the movie and the actor’s real-life experience is that Tatum’s late furry friend was named Lulu, just like the Belgian malinois in the movie. Zuza, Lana, and Britta are the three Belgian malinois pups that played the role of Lulu in the film.

“In making the movie, I wanted to convey the feelings and the themes– the bond I shared with Lulu,” Tatum explained.

“She was like my shadow, like my child. She was everything. But this film is a very very different story,” the Step Up star continued.

In real life, Chananging did go on a road trip with his dying dog, but it was a purely therapeutic adventure. On the other hand, in the movie, he travels with his canine costar out of responsibility; he is not the dog’s initial owner, and he struggles to bond with the stubborn canine, which wasn’t the case with his real-life pitbull-Catahoula mix dog.

Despite the storyline not being based on true events, Tatum says one memorable scene tagged at his heart, reminding him of his late canine. In this particular scene, Lulu and Briggs take a break from their trip after hours of driving and stop by the side of the road. Lulu takes a pee and suddenly runs off, only to return clutching a bird’s feathers in her teeth.

“My own Lulu was actually genetically a hunting dog but she never got a chance to explore that part of her natural self because I do not hunt myself. So just like in the film, Lulu was always ready to tackle anything that seemed many times bigger than her, as long as it wasn’t a fellow dog,” a nostalgic Tatum explained.

Talks about the film began in November 2019, one year after Lulu’s passing, and production kicked off in 2020. Tatum shared the news of the movie’s release with a heartfelt tweet: “Almost a year ago, I went on a road trip to say goodbye to my best friend (Lulu). I am now making a movie that she inspired.”

His tweet and subsequent interviews underlie the fact that although Dog is not based on real-life events, Tutum’s personal experience with his Lulu definitely inspired the making of the flick.

Tatum and His Co-Directors Ruled Out Doggy Deaths

When Tatum and Carolin discussed ideas for the movie, they initially thought it would be a small, easy movie with a straightforward plot. But, the first-time directors faced numerous logistical challenges, including budget issues and time constraints.

“We just thought, ‘Oh, it will be a really tiny movie with a dog and me in a car on a road trip,” Tatum explained. But, as the actor discovered, ”it was one of hardest movies to try to make.”

Wrangling with dogs and generally working with the canines was one of the most difficult aspects of making the movie, the directors revealed. In fact, Channing says that he doesn’t feel like he directed the film, considering how much time he spent wrangling the dogs. “I think Reid directed me, and I directed the dog. I don’t really know if I’ve directed my first movie,” the Coach Carter star said.

Despite the challenges they faced directing the ‘canine actors,’ the directors were intentional about there being no doggy deaths in the plotline. “We love dogs. No one wants one of those movies (where the dog dies), and I think that’s a deadly thing. You can kill almost anything else, but just don’t kill the dog,” Tatum said.

Ultimately, Dog is a heartwarming film that will restore your faith in humanity and offer a pleasantly surprising glimpse into what man’s best friend is capable of. Despite their modesty, Channing Tatum and Reid Carolin did very well in their directorial debut.

As they explain, the idea for the movie was really noble. They wanted to capture the huge, complex idea of surrender, and they did it using a small story. Tatum says considering the massive logistical challenges, he still doesn’t know if making a film with that kind of plotline was a smart decision, but all in all, he is proud of the movie that came out of it.