Director: Burt Gillett
Release Date: April 16, 1932
Then a little black dog escapes, and helps Pluto and several other dogs escaping, too. Once outside the little dog repeatedly tries to gain Pluto’s sympathy, to no avail. Not even when it shares a large bone with Pluto. When an annoying little Pekingese warns the other dogs of the bone, trouble starts, but the little dog saves the day with the help of legion of fleas, while Pluto remains busy with an alarm clock. Only then he gains Pluto’s much wanted sympathy.
‘Just Dogs’ is not a particularly funny or beautiful short and its star, Pluto, is most of the time quite unsympathetic, but it does show the advancements in animation Disney was making at the time: we’re not watching ‘just dogs’, we’re watching several recognizable types of dogs, among them a very lifelike St. Bernard.
By now, the Disney animators didn’t need to stick to stereotyped ducks, pigs, cows, horses, or in this case, dogs, but were able to draw and animate real dogs, who looked like dogs, moved like dogs and behaved like dogs. This kind of naturalism is quite unprecedented in earlier films. ‘Just Dogs’ is still a mixed bag: some of the designs are still very primitive, especially during the escape scene, but there are some striking new designs here, not in the least, the small, optimistic black dog, who ‘s the real hero of the short.
The two main protagonists, Pluto and his clever comrade, are two distinct characters, which behave and move differently, a great advancement in character animation. Disney would develop both naturalism and character animation into perfection in the coming seven years.
Two years later the little dog would reappear as Pluto’s rival Terry in Floyd Gottfredson’s Mickey Mouse comics.
Watch ‘Just Dogs’ yourself and tell me what you think: