I’m always on the lookout for the dog in a TV show or movie. Not just the main character in major dog themed stories, but also the minor role. Eddie in Frasier. Tiger in The Brady Bunch. Bruiser in Legally Blonde.

A few weeks ago I watched the movie version of one of my favorite books, My Sister’s Keeper by Jodi Picoult. There were dozens of reasons I wanted to see the movie: to compare the screen adaptation to the book, to see the story come to life, to watch Abigail Breslin and Alec Baldwin‘s performances. Also, to check out scenes with lawyer Campbell Alexander, in which his dog Judge is featured. A border collie mix named Ryder played Judge in the movie.

Judge is Alexander’s service dog, although the lawyer refuses to share exactly what function this dog serves. He first tells Anna that he has an iron lung and the dog keeps him away from magnets. In the book, he offers up different explanations to others, thus keeping alive the suspense and curiosity as to the dog’s real function. I wish this hadn’t been cut from the movie, as it would have helped the viewer in the same way it served the reader.

(SPOILER ALERT) In the end it is revealed that Judge helps warn Alexander of approaching epileptic seizures. I never could figure out exactly why the lawyer kept this information secret, when sharing the knowledge could have benefited him, especially in the trial scene where the courtroom judge reprimands him to keep his dog quiet or he’d be removed. I also don’t understand why, at that point, Alexander ignored his dog’s warnings, when that was the very reason he had the dog to begin with. I can understand that he didn’t want to miss the excitement going on around him at that point, however if the judge had been aware of the dog’s purpose to begin with, she probably would have called for a break so Alexander could leave to take care of his health needs.

Anyway, it is interesting to note that such dogs do exist. There are dogs who assist a person through a seizure, and there are also dogs who are believed to be able to pick up on subtle changes in behavior or the sent of the owner before a seizure occurs. For more information, check out What about Seizure Dogs? by the Epilepsy Foundation.