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Golden Lab stars in distressing short movie

Golden labrador
© Shawn Welling AXI - Youtube

A filmmaker has made a tribute to his first dog in the form of a glossy commercial-style movie. Trigger warning: euthanasia.

By G. John Cole, 12 Feb 2019

The seven-minute dog film, If I Could Talk, is no cinematic masterpiece. But in telling the tale of the love between a man and his Labrador from puphood through to that final, excruciating decision at the vets, the story may offer some insight to those who are going through the same.

All you need to make a movie is a dog and a drone

A handsome man is jogging along the coast when he notices a sealed bag writhing around in the water below. He heroically snatches the bag to safety and discovers a perfect golden Labrador puppy inside. So their journey together begins.

Told from the dog’s point of view at the end of his life, we see the rest of the tale in flashbacks as Handsome Man and his dog play on the beach, marry a beautiful woman, welcome a daughter/sister into the world, get divorced, and then drive to a rather seedy-looking clinic to put the dog to sleep.

It feels surprisingly long for just seven minutes, perhaps because of the nauseating looped piano music and lack of character development. Handsome Man is nice to look at and the dog is a real babe. But despite the clever use of aerial photography to make a shadow-show of the heroes frolicking in the sand, it all feels like a workout for filmmaker Shawn Welling’s video kitbag.

Furry films

In fact, nothing could be further from the truth: Welling has actually made a very personal movie.

“This story was based off of my first Golden Retriever who ended up getting cancer when I was about 12 years old,” says Welling in an interview on his own website. “He was my very first dog."

Welling even plays the Handsome Man himself in the film. He continues:

“It was posted on YouTube March 27, 2015, but the Facebook recognition was pretty recent, about 3 weeks ago. It was getting about 1,000 views on YouTube regularly, but when it was posted on Facebook (posted May 31, 2016) by Dogs Tab and then HypeDojo on July 5th, it reached a million views per day. Then it really got crazy... 30,000 comments, approximately 450K shares, cumulative 23 million views on Facebook and 43,000 views on YouTube daily."

Bizarrely, an apparently abandoned crowdfunding campaign to raise US$250,000 (£193,000) for the movie is still showing up on Indiegogo – although it’s unclear whether the money was supposed to fund the original short (which was eventually completed for just $1000) or a feature-length version.

Welling revealed, in the same interview, that he has a similarly-themed dog movie lined up: ‘If I Could Bark.’