Scruffy, a sociable yellow labrador, enjoys lying on the couch watching westerns (because of the horses) and Match of the Day (because of the ball), but is only now, at the age of 10, making his debut trip to the cinema. The reason? To attend a pooch-friendly preview of Wes Anderson’s Isle of Dogs at the Cameo in Edinburgh.
“I’m hoping that he will behave,” says Scruffy’s human, Rory, adding, as if in reassurance: “He’s well house-trained.”
This sold-out screening is a first in the city (Picturehouse had a run of dog-friendly showings around the UK on Sunday). The cinema has laid on water bowls and blankets. There is not much of a queue for popcorn; when the picture begins, biscuits and dried pig ears will be brought out from bags.
In the foyer, gazing up at the chandelier, is Gordon “Kanye” Westie, a west highland terrier, shortbread-tin cute in a tartan bow tie. He is here with Fiona, a teacher, who uses the Dugs app on her phone to identify which pubs and other businesses are dog-friendly. She has been lobbying the Cameo to hold these screenings. “When Gordon was a puppy I was basically housebound,” she recalls. “It was like having a newborn baby, and I was missing loads of films.”
Within the auditorium are dogs of every sort. The largest, a newfoundland called Luna, seated front and centre, is the approximate size of the MGM lion. The smallest, a terrier cross called Pedro, has enjoyed a Hollywood ending of his own. The heart-shaped white mark on his forehead is apt; Wendy and Rhona, an Edinburgh couple, discovered him as a starving stray while visiting the ruins of the Temple of Aphrodite in Cyprus, and brought him back to live with them in Scotland where he enjoys climbing mountains and, now, attending the cinema.
The lights go down. The ears perk up. Isle of Dogs is a gorgeous stop-motion animation with a cast of impeccable pedigree: Bryan Cranston is a blue-eyed mongrel; Tilda Swinton a visionary pug. Whenever an animal howls or growls on screen, which is often, there is an answering bark from the audience. Mostly, the dogs behave. Some seem bored. The phlegmy pant of a French bulldog soon becomes a phlegmy snore.
As the film ends there is barking and applause. Wagged tails bang the backs of seats. Satisfied customers include Tobermory, an eight-year-old lab, named for the whisky not the Womble. I had wondered, while perusing Tobermory’s Facebook page – like a sort of Canine Analytica – whether this really was his first trip to the cinema. Records show that he went to see Murder on the Orient Express on 5 November last year, and considered it to be “mince”. This, however, turns out to be the opinion of Bob, a barman and waiter who updates the page and whom the dog has brought along for company.
“I thought this film was fantastic,” says Bob. And Tobermory? “He had a bit of a sleep.”
For the full article with images go to The Guardian.