For the Love of a Dog

Movie review by
Brian Costello, Common Sense Media
For the Love of a Dog Movie Poster Image
Feel-good teamwork movie has scary near-drowning scene.
  • G
  • 2007
  • 90 minutes

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A lot or a little?

The parents' guide to what's in this movie.

Positive Messages

The movie demonstrates the importance of appreciating the things you have, instead of being frustrated over what you don't. The movie also shows the benefits of a community of neighbors and friends working together for a greater good.

Positive Role Models & Representations

Grace learns the value of self-sacrifice for a greater good. Grace and her friends learn empathy as they grow to understand why George acts so irritable all the time.


At a yard sale, a little girl falls into a pool and nearly drowns. A brother threatens to break his little sister's arm.


A brother calls his sister a "spoiled brat." On two occasions, a popular cheerleader calls her friends "morons." At a dinner party, an older woman observes a woman flirting with a man and calls her a "floozie."


A teenage boy eats from a box of clearly-marked Dots candy.

Drinking, Drugs & Smoking

What parents need to know

Parents need to know that For the Love of a Dog is a 2008 movie based on a true story about a community who joins together to raise money to help pay for the treatment of a family's beloved dog who is sick with cancer. While a mostly positive story about the importance of sacrifice for a greater good, there are some scenes of arguments between siblings and between parents and kids that might be a bit much for some viewers. Near the end of the movie, a little girl falls into a pool and nearly drowns; this abrupt side story might be jarring for families and scary for younger viewers.

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What's the story?

The Harringtons are a typical American family struggling to make ends meet. Teen daughter Grace (Bridgette Potts) is constantly arguing with her parents and is angry that her family can't afford to send her to cheerleading camp. The Harrington kids are constantly bickering, and if that wasn't enough, their dog Semper is constantly causing trouble for their neighbor George O'Donnell (Sherman Hemsley). But when it's discovered that Semper has cancer and the family cannot afford the dog's treatment to make him better, the Harrington kids work together to raise money by sacrificing their time and their possessions. This spirit of selflessness spreads throughout their entire community, and before long, even grumpy George O'Donnell comes around to help.

Is it any good?

FOR THE LOVE OF A DOG is a feel-good movie that shows through example the importance of putting the concerns of others over your own selfish wants. While the lessons imparted are worthwhile, the movie itself is marred by amateurish acting and questionable side-stories that interfere with the film's central message. For instance, at the height of a yard sale where everyone in the community seems to be coming together for a greater good, a little girl sneaks away, falls into a pool, and nearly drowns. The scene comes out of nowhere, and nearly eliminates the previous 30 minutes of goodwill the characters had created between them. 

Regardless, if you can overlook these problems, For the Love of a Dog's message of selfless giving shines throughout the movie. As the characters live out these values, the changes that come over them as the movie progresses make them positive role models.

Talk to your kids about ...

  • Families can talk about the movie's message. How does this film present positive values like teamwork and self-sacrifice?

  • What are some other positive values presented through example in this film?

  • Did this movies depiction of high school life seem realistic to you? Why or why not?

Movie details

Our editors recommend

For kids who love watching together

Themes & Topics

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