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Gonzaga alum brings his new movie to Spokane

Courtesy of "The Year of the Dog"
The husky Caleb and Matt (played by Rob Grabow) have a heart-to-heart talk in "The Year of the Dog."

Gonzaga University alumnus Rob Grabow is bringing his new independent movie "The Year of the Dog" to Spokane on Friday. That’s the day it will make its big-screen debut in more than 100 theaters nationwide, including Wandermere’s Village Centre Cinemas.

SPR’s Doug Nadvornick introduces us to the man who wrote the film, produced it and played one of its most prominent human characters.

On his initial spark for the movie: “I went for a dog-mushing trip in Montana as an adult eight or nine years ago and there was a man who was leading the trip. He was struggling with addiction and he shared that with us. He talked about how his relationship with the dog, his lead dog, was the reason he stayed sober…I’ve been looking for a film that I could connect my own life experiences too that could also explore this theme of connection and how we heal from difficult experiences and so I went home that evening and then, that weekend, I wrote a short film based on my extrapolation of his story to my own life.”

On the movie’s plot and its main human character, Matt, whom Grabow played: “He’s struggling with addiction and he finds out that his mom is going into hospice early in the film and that his only chance to see her before she passes is to get sober because she has refused to see him until he’s sober. So he starts down this journey of trying to find sobriety to see her and it kind of follows that journey.”

Courtesy "The Year of the Dog"
Actor Rob Grabow (Matt) and his husky co-star Caleb (Yup'ik) share a quiet moment in "The Year of the Dog."

On how the dog fits into the movie: “One of the places I felt safe (as a child) was with my Newfoundland that we had, Basil. He was one of the consistent parts of my childhood. There was a part of me that wanted to pay homage to him and what he meant to me and also, dogs have an ability to meet us where we’re at. I think when we’re asked to engage and receive someone else or something else, it pulls us into the subjective experience of connection and that has a very healing, very warm kind of quality to it. And so the dog in this case is really a teacher in a lot of ways for Matt and a place where he can feel safe to establish connections so that he can incrementally reconnect with the world around him.”

One of the Northwest's most seasoned reporters is returning to his SPR roots. Doug Nadvornick will be heard frequently on KPBX and KSFC reporting on local news.