Indie Feature, The Year of the Dog, Stars Siberian Husky Rescue

Shuffled from Foster Homes and Shelters, Rescue Dog Debuts on the Silver Screen

BOZEMAN, Mont.–(BUSINESS WIRE)–The indie feature, The Year of the Dog, opening nationwide on February 24, stars a scene-stealing Siberian Husky rescue named Caleb who had been shuffled between multiple foster homes and animal shelters for being “too much dog” or “too energetic.”

The Year of the Dog, a poignant story about two strays, Matt, an alcoholic struggling to maintain sobriety, and Yup’ik, played by Caleb, a rescue dog with an unusual athletic gift, takes audiences on a heart-warming journey of forgiveness, finding purpose, making connections, and ultimately healing. The film is Caleb’s first “acting job” and his debut is monumental.

The search for a special dog to play Yup’ik began when Rob Grabow, the film’s writer, producer, co-director, and lead actor, reached out to Jon Van Dyke, a veteran Hollywood animal trainer with more than 35 years’ experience. Van Dyke turned to Cathy and Gregg Pittman, owners of the Palmdale, CA based Performing Animal Troupe, who had recently adopted 9-month-old Caleb.

Van Dyke likes to have a dog for at least 6 months to build trust and train specifically for the needs of the film. With Caleb, who by then was a 1-year-old puppy with very limited training experience, he had only 6 short weeks to teach him key script elements. Thanks to Van Dyke’s expert positive reinforcement training, Caleb was screen ready on day one of filming.

While some actors don’t like working with animals, Grabow, who stars opposite Caleb, reveled at how spontaneous the husky was in scene after scene. “Caleb was like Robin Williams quick. And somehow, his improvisations always improved the scene. When audiences see the film, they’ll have no clue that Caleb and I didn’t spend a lifetime working together. And that is a testament to Caleb’s charm and Jon’s amazing work with him.”

“Caleb’s story exemplifies how finding purpose and making connections can heal,” Grabow says. “Most shelter dogs were either abandoned or surrendered. They need you to not give up on them. This gorgeous and loving dog had something special in him that so many others missed. All those things that others saw as his imperfections — his high energy, his playfulness, his stubbornness — are precisely the things that made him able to carry so much of this film.”

Sharing his final thoughts about Caleb’s performance and newfound stardom, Grabow proudly beams, “He was one of the most precious, charismatic, and confident actor dogs I’ve seen. And from what I hear, his fame hasn’t changed him,” Grabow jokingly says with a wink.

Today, Caleb enjoys the Southern California lifestyle as a family member of the Pittman’s Performing Animal Troupe, where he hangs out with 60 other animals, plays with his Boxer buddy Butch, and shoots Petco commercials.

In addition to Caleb, The Year of the Dog features an accomplished cast of film and television actors, including two prominent Indigenous actors: Jon Proudstar (veteran of over 50 films and TV series, including Hulu’s Reservation Dogs) and Lakota actor Michael Spears (Dances with Wolves, 1887, and Reservation Dogs), an incredible group of military veterans in both cast and crew roles, as well as a glorious array of dogs.

Watch the trailer exclusively on Apple Trailers here. Production stills, cast and crew details, and theater release information is available online at, Instagram, and Facebook.


Alison Graham


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