Life in the Doghouse

Movie review by
Barbara Shulgasser-Parker, Common Sense Media
Life in the Doghouse Movie Poster Image
Docu about saving at-risk dogs is emotionally intense.
  • NR
  • 2019
  • 84 minutes

Parents say

age 8+
Based on 3 reviews

Kids say

age 8+
Based on 1 review

We think this movie stands out for:

A lot or a little?

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

Positive Messages

Millions of dogs could be saved from death if people would spay and neuter their pets. The owners of the rescue group advocate for spay and neuter laws. Don't buy a dog, save a dog.

Positive Role Models & Representations

Two men have devoted their lives to saving animals, putting their own well-being, privacy, and financial security at risk to do the work. The two men struggle to pay the bills to keep the rescue running, taking personal loans to pay their staff. Slowly over the years, they've given up any private or personal space in their home to the dogs, who live in every room in the house.

Violence

Animal shelters kill animals that haven't been adopted after a certain amount of time. Rescuers try to keep animals from being euthanized. Puppy mill dogs are treated inhumanely, some kept in cages too small to allow movement. Four million dogs a year are euthanized in the U.S. After Hurricane Katrina, rescuers helping stranded humans refused to take their dogs along. Some owners refused to leave their animals and drowned. The animals were later found, stranded, alone, and hungry. Ron and Danny take a suffering, terminally ill, beloved dog to the vet to be euthanized.

Sex
Language

"Poop."

Consumerism

Danny and Ron make clear throughout that donations will be welcome, and a donation website is shown at film's end.

Drinking, Drugs & Smoking

Dogs are given medications to help with medical conditions.

What parents need to know

Parents need to know that Life in the Doghouse is a 2018 documentary about two men who dedicate their lives to rescuing dogs, having saved the lives of more than 11,000 animals from euthanasia. Their private home is given over to 70 resident dogs, some of whom live with them permanently. Horse trainers by profession, the two are lifelong animal lovers and advocates who don't blame shelters that are forced to euthanize animals, but instead believe communities are responsible for the crisis in animal overpopulation. They emphasize that a policy/law mandating spaying and neutering all animals (except for those owned by licensed breeders) would dramatically decrease the number of dogs that end up in shelters. Some cruelty to animals is described, and animals with diseases and disabilities are shown. One animal with a terminal condition is taken to a vet for a humane death.

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User Reviews

  • Parents say
  • Kids say
Adult Written byMomof8boys July 15, 2019

Fantastic film! A must watch!

I watched this film with my 10 and 13-year-old boys. Both of my boys volunteer at our local animal shelter and they immediately asked me, at the end of the film... Continue reading
Adult Written bychocolatecake123 January 4, 2020

A mostly optimistic look at animal rescue

My mom had been telling me to watch this for nearly a year, so I made this my first movie of 2020. It's a good documentary, but it was occasionally a bit b... Continue reading
Kid, 11 years old April 28, 2020

Heartwarming

So cute! Very good to watch if you have a rescue! But so short, I didn't want it to end.

What's the story?

LIFE IN THE DOGHOUSE is a 2018 documentary about two men whose love for dogs turned into a nonprofit, full-time dog rescue operation. After Hurricane Katrina, Danny Robertshaw and Ron Danta, dog lovers and owners of a South Carolina horse-training operation, helped save dogs abandoned during the storm. After rescuing 600 dogs, they realized that 6.5 million dogs per year were ending up in shelters and only 2.5 million of them were placed in adoptive homes, sending 4 million to euthanasia. Now they live in a large house, and all the space has been turned into housing for the 70 dogs in residence at the time of filming. While they hope to find forever homes for each dog, they've learned that black dogs are the least likely to be adopted and thus most prone to being euthanized. Sick dogs and disabled dogs also fail to find permanent owners. Danny and Ron take them all, often keeping the least adoptable themselves, like Amelia, an irritable small dog with hind leg problems. 

 

Is it any good?

There's a sweetness beyond mere compassion and decency to both Danny and Ron that makes viewers fall in love with the two professional rescuers in this documentary. Danny assures one cute new puppy that they'll find someone to adopt him and that he'll do just fine: "You'll get some human, and you'll train 'em," Danny jokes. The fact that they take dogs no one else wants -- because of illness, personality traits, temper -- and turn them into lovable, adoptable dogs gives an audience the sense that we're all lucky that the earth is graced with such big-hearted people. Life in the Doghouse is a love song to these seemingly unselfish guys, and it would be hard to fault director Ron Davis for portraying them in such an uncritical light.

Kids may appreciate that the dogs themselves get plenty of screen time, too, so we get to know Lily, a charmer with the dreaded heartworm. Ron and Danny not only save her from euthanasia at a shelter, but then also invest the time, money, and effort required to remake an otherwise lovely dog with a life-threatening illness into a healthy and attractive prospect who, it turns out, finds a happy home by film's end. And there are plenty of others -- Yoda, Amelia, Sammy, Cotton, Blanche, Maggie, Moose -- to whom the guys make the promise that they'll never go back to a shelter. Danny and Ron make clear throughout that donations will be welcome, and a donation website is shown at film's end.

Talk to your kids about ...

  • Families can talk about why spaying and neutering animals can help keep animals from being needlessly killed.

  • In Life in the Doghouse, Danny and Ron talk about the need to borrow money to keep their rescue efforts funded. Does their generosity set an example for others to follow? How can you help homeless pets in your area?

  • What cause would you support with your time and money?

Movie details

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