See doggy action stars of virtual film festival packed with feelgood stories to enjoy this Christmas

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Dogs in action – from pulling sleds to surfing – and more pampered pooches who are used to five-star hotels and private chefs are the focus of a popular film festival which this year is making an online debut.

The international Top Dog Film Festival, which in 2019 toured to Whitley Bay for the first time, is to take a virtual form this year but animal lovers are being promised just as much of a treat with a canine celebration guaranteed to raise the spirits during Christmas in Tier 3.

Organised by mountain film festival Banff, Top Dog had been due to return in the autumn to The Playhouse Whitley Bay, where it played out on the big screen as part of its UK debut last year.

However, following its postponement due to the pandemic, this year’s outing switches online with a heartwarming series of new short films which will take viewers on a journey around the world from the comfort of their sofas.

And the films which celebrate the bond between man and his four-legged-friend will have showings in both December and January.

Dog lovers can buy an online pass to watch such highlights as Odd Jobs For Dogs – which features extraordinary animals who lend a helping paw, such as Hoki whose work involves monitoring protected species -and Surfing with Sugar which sees a former street dog take to the waves in California, helping to turn around the life of his troubled new owner at the same time.

Other film subjects range from Siberian huskies in Minnesota to the extraordinary skills of an ‘old dog’ sheep farmer in New Zealand which are shown as he works with animals as a ‘dog whisperer’.

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Hoki, in the Odd Jobs for Dogs film, part of The Top Dogs Film Festival which moves online this year
Hoki, in the Odd Jobs for Dogs film, part of The Top Dogs Film Festival which moves online this year

And one film, Why People Treat Dogs Like Humans, takes a look at some indulged pets who are given the likes of ‘pawdicures’ and full wardrobes of clothes, and asks if some dog owners go just a bit too far.

Billed as moving, uplifting and inspiring, the films are also lovely to look at.

Why People Treat Dogs Like Humans, part of The Top Dogs Film Festival which moves online this year
Why People Treat Dogs Like Humans, part of The Top Dogs Film Festival which moves online this year

There will be two showings of them, on December 27 and January 15 – with films starting at 7pm – and the viewing window for each will be open for 48 hours.

Viewers first will be invited to explore a virtual foyer, from 6pm, where they can enter a live prize draw to win pup-related goodies and take on a Top Dog Film Festival quiz.

Viewers also will have exclusive access to behind-the-scenes question-and-answer sessions with filmmakers and to a dedicated kids’ zone for young animal lovers.

Tour director Nell Teasdale said: “While we are unable to join dog-lovers live in theatres, we are really excited to be presenting our first ever virtual Top Dog Film Festival.”

She added of the line-up of entertainment: “Humans and dogs share a unique connection, and this brand-new collection of films celebrates the remarkable canine companions that bring happiness to our lives.

“Whether you’re a dog owner or just like animals, these films are guaranteed to make you laugh, cry and fall in love with man’s best friend all over again.”

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For more information about the virtual edition of and to book tickets see here.



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