“Dog” is a story about an army ranger, Jackson Briggs, who finds solace in a very unlikely companionship with a Belgian Malinois named Lulu. Jackson Briggs was an optimistic human being who, despite his struggles, traumas, and medical condition, never pitied himself. His job gave him a purpose, and, most importantly, it diverted his mind from dawdling around in the dark shadows of his past. Maybe Briggs found it conducive to overlook the void that existed inside him because maybe he knew that those wounds had left indelible scars on him.
Channing Tatum not only plays the protagonist, Jackson Briggs, but has also co-directed the film with Reid Caroline. It’s fascinating how sometimes you can speak so much without actually saying anything. Jackson Briggs had no clue that his life was going to be changed by a canine. He met Lulu by coincidence. He understood that he was not the only one suffering from the repercussions of the war. There was this traumatized four-legged symbol of perseverance and loyalty, who had given everything it had. Lulu was in a desperate state, just like Briggs, and both didn’t know how to deal with it.
“Dog” opens with Jackson Briggs having a seizure. He experienced those quite frequently. He had accepted it to be a part of his life, like many other war veterans. He works in a food joint, but it seems like he wants to go back to being a ranger. He makes a call to Black Canopy Global Security and asks them about the status of his application. He had applied to go to Pakistan, but the issue was that a soldier with a history of brain surgery couldn’t be sent to a war zone. Though he had arranged for a medical certificate, it needed to be certified by a commanding officer. He had called his commanding officer a lot of times but till then hadn’t got any reply. Briggs gets a call from Captain Jones, whom he had been chasing to get a recommendation. Jones informs him that Riley Rodrigues, a ranger who served with them in the war, had been in an accident and was no more. It wasn’t like Briggs didn’t know what loss was, but every time it made the crevasse inside him a little bigger. Maybe he was waiting for that day when the cracks became so big that they engulfed him. Until that time, he had to live.
Briggs meets Captain Jones and asks him why he was stalling him and not certifying his medical history. Captain Jones tells him that he would certify his medical history as being clean if he escorted a military dog to Riley’s funeral. Riley Rodrigues was the handler of a dog named Lulu, and for his funeral, Riley’s mother had requested the presence of the hero dog, with whom Riley had spent most of his time on the battlefield. The catch was that Lulu was in an unstable situation. The dog was traumatized and had become violent and uncontrollable. Lulu had sent three guys to the emergency room and had to be driven to Arizona, as she was not in a condition to fly. It was decided that the vets would put Lulu to rest once the funeral was over.
The journey begins with Lulu muzzled up inside a cage in the back of Jackson’s car. He gets an idea about what he has signed into when his ambitious plans of getting laid are spoiled by the troublesome and finicky canine who would just not let him be. Jackson tries to make the trip less lonely by talking to Lulu as if she understood everything. But Lulu had other plans. It somehow manages to unleash itself and jump out of the car. Following her trail, Jackson ends up in the house of a paranoid old man, who hits him with a horse tranquilizer and captivates him. The old man was high on edibles and kept making crazy conspiracy theories. His wife tells him to apologize to Jackson and let him go. Jackson unties himself and goes inside the house to see that the old man’s wife was gently caressing Lulu and feeding her with her hands directly. The dog isn’t showing any traits of being violent at all. The old lady tells him that she had these intuitive powers that allowed her to know what the dog wanted. She tells him that Lulu needs a comfortable mattress to sleep on, among other things. Next thing we know, Jackson Briggs pretends to be a blind man and goes to a five-star hotel and asks for a room to fulfill Lulu’s demands. He says that it is his tried and tested formula. A blind army veteran always gets a room for free. The hotel workers took his bait and gave him a room for free, as he had expected. But an untoward situation arises, and Jackson’s cover is blown. Lulu sees a man clad in thawb mostly worn by people from the middle east. Lulu had been taught during the war to attack anybody wearing that. It chases the man in the five-star and attacks him. Briggs is taken into custody, and charges of assault and racism are put on him. He pleads with the officer in charge and gets out of the prison. He decides to take Lulu to meet her brother Nuke, who was living with Noah, who also hailed from the army and had fought to get custody of Nuke for six months. Jackson talks to Noah and gets a gleam of hope that maybe neither he nor Lulu are obliged to stay in the grind forever.
Major Spoilers Ahead
‘Dog’ Ending Explained – Does Jackson Briggs Keep Lulu?
Jackson Briggs knew of only one way of leading his life, i.e., by staying in the game. He didn’t know how to end his misery. When he talks to Noah, he gets to know that once even his dog, Nuke, was in a deplorable state like Lulu. But eventually, he became so stable that they could trust Nuke with their kids. For that to happen, there was only one condition: a tumultuous past had to be obliviated, and things that were tightly fastened to the impulses needed to be unlearned. Noah suggests that maybe talking to a friend or a therapist would give him a way out. But Jackson Briggs was too uptight for that, and asking for help was something that he associated with weakness. He scorns the alternatives provided by Noah as well. There is a sort of paranoia, a restlessness that was visible on Jackson’s face as soon as anybody started talking about his disconsolate self. He felt vulnerable and often tried to escape the situation. He attends the funeral together with Lulu and then goes to the military facility to hand over the canine. Just then, he had a change of heart. He didn’t feel right giving her up. He goes back and takes Lulu with him. He files for his legal custody and gets it eventually.
Lulu and Jackson Briggs were similar in more than one aspect. Jackson Briggs was going through trauma and a medical condition. He had become distant from his own family, wife, and child. He didn’t think that he had a life outside the military. He didn’t think that satisfaction and fulfillment were notions that were meant for him. But being with Lulu changed his perspective. Briggs was a man of few words. Expressing his feelings was something that was alien to him. But he writes a poem for Lulu. He found an ally who had been through the same ordeal. Somewhere they both understood each other and filled those wide-open crevasses that once they thought would engulf them completely.
“Dog” is a 2022 Feel-Good Comedy film that marks the directorial debut of Channing Tatum. The film deals with a lot of sensitivity and tenderness, and finds its inspiration from Tatum’s late dog.