Relinquish the Dog?: Movie Messages about Misbehavior

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Content analysis of selected films (Beethoven, K-9, Turner & Hooch) and a TV show (The Simpsons) revealed frequent instances of undesirable acts by dog characters including damaging, disobedience, soiling, and stealing. One reaction of human characters was frequent scolding. More seriously, all the dogs were explicitly put at risk for relinquishment (surrender). Even so, no dog was permanently relinquished. In two cases, animals eventually redeemed themselves, one going so far as to become a hero. In the two remaining cases, resistant humans eventually became convinced of the inherent good in the animals. All the dogs gained status as valued companion animals. Treating these titles as a type of fable, their common moral (message) was interpreted to be that dogs should simply not be relinquished. Corollary recommendations offered in these movies counseled human patience and sensitivity concerning dog behavior.

Document Type: Research Article


Publication date: September 1, 2000

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