Jamaica, man. Tropical weather, beaches, music, nightlife, Red Stripe beer and dogsledding. Wait, dog sledding? I mean, come on, I know there are Jamaican “bobsledders” but dog sledding? It’s true. Inspired by the success of the island nation’s bobsledding team, businessman Danny Melville rescued 12 stray dogs from the streets of Kingston and turned them on to the sport of kings (or, rather, dogs named King).
“Sun Dogs: The True Story of The Jamaican Dogsled Team” follows the paths of these rescued dogs as they grow from a group of misfit mutts to a sensational sled-pulling team. Under the guidance of Devon Anderson, a local turned head musher, and his apprentice, Newton Marshall, the dogs find out that pulling is a heck of a good way to spend an afternoon.
Much of the “dogumentary,” however, focuses on Anderson and, at first, Marshall, as the 23-year-old begins to learn that there is more to life than just the streets where he grew up. He is getting an education (literally, learning to read) in life, business and people. The film even takes Marshall away from the tiny island nation (of which he’s never left) to the wilds of Minnesota where he gets to train in conditions he’s never experienced: snow, ice and cold.
When the team travels to its first competition to the United Kingdom Dry Land Championship (sans dogs because if the dogs left Jamaica, they would not be let back in due to current customs laws), Anderson has to take the reigns because some actions on Marshall’s part exclude him from further participation in the project. Viewers will be pulling for Anderson, the underdog, as he learns to work with his substitute team of dogs, who work hard at pulling him across the finish line.
That “pulling” feeling lies at the heart of the film, as it offers a glimpse of life in Jamaica beyond the all-inclusive resorts. Who would have thought that there is a problem with an overpopulation of dogs in such a tropical paradise, or even that there is a Jamaica Society for Prevention of Cruelty to Animals? This film demonstrates that even on a poor island nation, people really care about the welfare of animals, and dogs in particular.
“Sun Dogs: The True Story of The Jamaican Dogsled Team” was filmed in high definition over 10 months in 2005 and 2006. It was produced by Palm Pictures and goes on sale Oct. 2 for $19.99. For more information, visit www.sundogsmovie.com