Does Gonker the dog die in Dog Gone? What happened to him in real life
*WARNING: Spoilers ahead for Dog Gone*
As the old saying goes, dogs are a man’s best friend and as a result, there have been an endless amount of films that explore the relationship between humans and canines.
Netflix’s newest film, Dog Gone, is another film that falls into that category as it tells the story of a family’s search for their lost dog, Gonker.
The search turns into a frantic race against time as Gonker needs to have an injection of medication in a matter of days or it could be too late.
Understandably, this has left viewers asking whether Gonker the dog dies by the end of Dog Gone.
Dog Gone release date and plot preview
Dog Gone bounded its way onto Netflix on Friday, January 13, 2023.
Based on true events, the film follows young Fielding Marshall whose story begins shortly after a tough break-up with his college girlfriend. To help him get through the emotional period, Fielding adopts a dog from the local shelter which he promptly names Gonker.
When Fielding and Gonker return to his family’s home, his parents take a while to warm to the dog but eventually, they start to bond.
That bond is put to the ultimate test when Gonker, who has a serious medical condition, gets lost while out on the 2,200-mile-long Appalachian Trail.
Fielding and his family quickly spring into action to search for Gonker and to make matters worse, they must find him within 20 days as he could potentially die if he isn’t given an injection of medication in time.
Does Gonker the dog die in Dog Gone?
Well, thankfully Gonker the dog doesn’t die by the end of Dog Gone.
However, there are several instances throughout the film where Fielding and the Marshall family are left worrying for the poor canine, the first of which comes during an emergency trip to the vet where they are told Gonker has a 50/50 chance of surviving the night .
The vet reveals that Gonker has a rare condition called Addison’s disease, also known as adrenal insufficiency, where the body does not make enough of certain chemicals known as glucocorticoids.
To treat the condition, Gonker needs to be given an injection every 30 days to ensure he stays healthy. That proves simple enough until the adventurous pooch gets lost while out on the Appalachian Trail, the longest hiking path in the world, with just 20 days before he needs his next life-saving injection.
The search pushes the family to their limits, while it also gives Fielding and his father some much-needed time to bond.
Eventually, with the number of days running out and the family almost giving up hope, they receive a fateful phone call from a lodge resort over 100 miles away with some much-needed good news, Gonker has been spotted.
At long last, Fielding and the Marshalls are reunited with Gonker – but there is one final twist before the film ends.
Fielding has been secretly hiding his own medical issues throughout Dog Gone as he has not been eating or sleeping properly and has also been coughing up blood.
After finally rescuing Gonker, his health issues catch up with him and he collapses before being rushed to the hospital.
We learn that he’s been suffering from ulcerative colitis (ulcers and inflammation in the intestinal system) which require a sizable section of his large intestine to be removed.
Thankfully, however, the doctors are able to save Fielding and the film ends with his parents sneaking Gonker into his hospital room.
What happened to the real Gonker?
As the film alludes to, Dog Gone is based on a true story that was turned into a book by Pauls Toutonghi, Fielding Marshall’s brother-in-law.
Just like in the film, the real Gonker got lost while walking along the Appalachian Trail on October 10, 1998.
His family spent the next two weeks looking for him, according to the New York Post, with Feilding and his father out on the trail while his mother stayed at home, calling everyone from animal shelters and local newspapers to police stations for help in their search .
Eventually, Gonker was spotted 15 days later on October 25 at Wintergreen Resort in Virginia, 111 miles away from where he had gotten lost.
After being reunited with his family, Gonker and his family were inseparable for the next five years until he died at the age of 11 in 2003.
Fielding, meanwhile, has since moved to Chile where he now gives kayaking tours and lives with his wife – whom he met while in Chile – and their two children, a boy and a girl, as well as a new dog.
Dog Gone is available to stream now on Netflix after releasing on Friday, January 13, 2023.
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