The Devastating True Story Of The Movie Dog Gone

There's something about on-screen dogs that get the waterworks going. Maybe it's because dogs have a universal appeal, or because we've all been duly traumatized by "Old Yeller," but movie pooches have an uncanny ability to tug at the heartstrings, whether in family-friendly fare or as the instigating factor of the entire "John Wick" franchise.

Rob Lowe, star of Netflix's "Dog Gone," is acutely aware of his new movie's tear-jerking effect. "You will cry your eyes out," the actor said in an appearance on "The Kelly Clarkson Show." "It's the best feel-good movie I've been a part of in a long, long time." In "Dog Gone," Lowe plays John, a father struggling to connect with his college-aged son, Fielding (Johnny Berchtold). When Fielding's dog Gonker gets lost on the Appalachian Trail, the pair embark on an adventure to find their beloved pet.

If the premise of "Dog Gone" wasn't heartbreaking enough, it's made all the more devastating by the fact that it's based on a true story.

The real-life Gonker went missing in 1998

"Dog Gone" is based on the novel "Dog Gone: A Lost Pet's Extraordinary Journey and the Family Who Brought Him Home" by Pauls Toutonghi, Fielding Marshall's brother-in-law. The film adaptation alters some of the real story's more tragic circumstances. In the film, Fielding adopts a dog to ease the pain of heartbreak. In reality, he adopted Gonker in 1991 to overcome the "oceanic wave of sadness" in the aftermath of his infant daughter's death (via The New York Post).

Gonker's journey on the Appalachian Trail, however, stays largely faithful to real life. In 1998, when Gonker was six years old, he ran off while on a hike. To make matters worse, Gonker suffered from Addison's disease and required monthly injections, making his swift return all the more urgent. The Marshall family searched tirelessly and attracted a local media frenzy. After fifteen long days, the dog was spotted near a ski resort 111 miles away.

Despite the heartbreaking premise, Lowe urged audiences to take a chance on the film, even providing a light spoiler that might make more people eager to watch "Dog Gone." "A lot of people said, 'I wanna see that movie, but not if the dog dies,'" he told Kelly Clarkson. "Dog does not die."