In Which A Dog Will Tear Us Apart Again

Wellness Dog


Love at First Bark
dir. Mike Rohl
Hallmark Channel

Despite the fact that she is starting her own business, Julia (Jana Kramer) thinks this is the time to adopt a dog. We never see exactly how much she pays for a german shepherd whose name is already King, but since it is Portland, OR we can assume it is in the $200-$300 range. I thought about adopting a cat last year and even a ten year old cat would have cost me $180 if I had not lost interest at that point.

Julia informs the dog trainer (Kevin McGarry of Saw 3D: The Final Chapter) that her approach to dog training will focus on the theme “All You Need Is Love.” To her credit, she does attempt to give King regular walks around Portland, which looks suspiciously not like Portland. Not a single person has a tattoo, piercing or rides a bike, so unless Julia spends her time exclusively in a gated community, she actually lives in Vancouver but is simply ashamed of being Canadian.

Julia is an interior designer. She meets a woman at a dog park and goads her into hiring her to design her baby’s nursery. The result of this first job for her fledging firm is based on the theme of a magical forest. In actuality, the only tree there looms like a Charlie Brown Christmas fir and we quickly realize that maybe Julia has bitten off more than she can chew.

This is a dog pun since disappointments soon emerge in Julia’s relationship with King. These are the honest-to-God problems she has with her dog:

– He will not sleep in her bed (ew)

– He will only sit when she doesn’t draw out the word in a weird way like “Siiiiit”

– He won’t sleep when she gives him the easy-to-understand command, “Close your eyes”

King amazingly never poops or pees during Love at First Bark which is quite the achievement since my dogs poop and pee when they hear a loud noise or a Rachel Maddow monologue. Frustrated despite the fact that she is the new owner of a rescue dog who has not destroyed any of her furniture, Julia heads to the office of the dog trainer, whose name is Owen. Owen’s dog training business, you will not be surprised to learn, has issues with interior decoration. The main problem is that he has about 600 pounds of filing, which made no sense to me, I mean is he keeping detailed records on dogs he trains? How many years is this going back?

Despite the fact that Owen apparently has dogs himself, we never see them during Love at First Bark. I guess he is shy about them and they stay at home all day even though his business should really be quite dog-friendly. We also never see his apartment, he just shows up at Julia’s place at like 10:30 at night. When they are about to kiss, King starts to bark, so I guess it was not really love at first bark, since she sends him home after that. Most guys I know would make themselves scarce after that kind of rejection but Owen’s other options are limited since he apparently only dates clients.

During a training session on the mean streets of Portland, Owen almost runs into an ex-girlfriend. She has a very fetching poodle; he is so alarmed by the possibility of this encounter that he makes Julia turn around and ends the session prematurely. I suppose he sensed that King did not need much more training anyway.

Later on in Love at First Bark, Julia wakes up one day and King is beside her in bed. When I was in college I knew a girl who allowed a dog to sleep in her bed. She was always getting bacterial infections and she was like, “This is such a crazy mystery why am I getting these infections?!?” Ever since then there has seemed something very lonely about a woman with a dog, which is a sexist thing I am trying to work out in therapy.

Julia has a partner in her new design business, a woman named Sherry (Anna Van Hooft). Sherry is a huge dick to Julia now that she has this vague man in her life. She’s always like, “Are you sure you just don’t want to call him?” and “Owen’s here!!!” She really gives a bad name to the entire concept of interior design with this childish bullshit. In the movie’s climactic party she makes the weird choice of a pink dress that I am pretty sure Julia Roberts wore in Pretty Woman.

Julia really prioritizes her career over her relationship. Given that she is a mediocre designer, this maybe is not the best approach. A successful dog training business could probably provide for them both, although Owen has a college friend who is his glorified secretary. I was confused why she couldn’t train dogs also. It is not particularly hard, do you know how tiny their brains are?

After she makes a weird bed space for King to sleep in, Julia gets the idea that she is going to convince this really rich woman to devote an entire room to her Pomeranian’s birth. Julia calls this installation “a puppery.” Since they could not afford to hire a pregnant dog (I think the adoption fee would be astronomical), the birth of the puppies happens off screen. Since they could not afford to hire puppies, we never see Pomeranian puppies. Times are tough in the TV movie business; Love at First Bark is roughly the equivalent of a watching a soft-core Cinemax thriller without any of the sex scenes.

You would think the Hallmark Channel audience would at least expect some heavy petting. I think Julia and Owen kissed maybe twice. No one got to second base. Meanwhile, the USA Network recently attempted to air Fifty Shades of Grey on broadcast television. It did not go well, but it was a lot hotter than Love at First Bark. Actually, the movie made a lot more sense as to why she would want to be with him, since now his sexual predilections were so much less extreme.

I would say take a pass on Love at First Bark unless you are really into German shepherds. Lynne wants to see this new entry in a series starring Candace Cameron Bure as a woman who runs a local social club examining historic homicides. Although Candace Cameron Bure’s faith in God means she does not do anything on camera outside of chaste kisses with zero tongue, at least you know to expect that going in.

Dick Cheney is the senior contributor to This Recording and the former vice president of the United States.


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