If you look back at your childhood, you may recall an array of loving dogs like Lassie, Lady and the Tramp, and Beethoven. All these pooches (real and animated) appeared in blockbuster films—those that adults and kids alike lined up to watch. The qualities that many audiences related to are the same ones that make dogs such an important part of family life today—their loyalty, intelligence, and humorous antics. Below is a small list of the many wonderful dogs that have shaped our collective cinematic memory.

Pit Bull in John Wick

John Wick adopted an unnamed Pit Bull at the end of the first John Wick film and he has been a key player in many films from the series, always running alongside his beloved human, John, and giving him a helping hand when he could. If you recall, in the first John Wick film, the hero loses his wife and on the day of her death, a small package arrives at his home: a small dog. He falls in love with it and the dog helps him through his grief. One day, however, a gang attempts to rob his home and kills his dog in the process. And the entire film revolves around finding his dog’s killers. In one of the film’s most unforgettable scenes John, who is seriously wounded, breaks into a vet clinic and sees that a dog is about to be euthanized. He frees him and Pit bull becomes his new reason to live. As the film progresses, an unbreakable bond is formed between the two.

Abbey in I Am Legend

The 2007 Will Smith film, I Am Legend, is easily one of the most memorable zombie films of recent times. In the film Will’s character loses everything that matters to him but finds someone to accompany him—a beautiful German Shepherd. Unfortunately, the zombie virus doesn’t just affect human beings; it infects dogs, too. When Will’s dog gets bitten, he waits loyally by its side, keen to live its last seconds as a dog alongside him, before he is forced to end its life the second it turns into a zombie. This scene stands out as one of the saddest in films involving pets, as the dog represents the last good and pure thing that remains in the protagonist’s life.

The Unnamed Chihuahua in Paddington

Think Paddington and you probably recall images of one of the world’s most famous bears making his way through a plethora of the UK’s most cinematic sites—from Paddington station itself right through to Portobello Road, The Shard, and a host of other historic sites. Paddington is a celebration of tradition and culture, and it walks us through sites that are steeped in history. However, it is also a celebration of the human-pet bond. Many will recall the unnamed chihuahua that Paddington picks up at the station because he reads a sign that says, “Dogs must be carried.” Confused, the dog thinks that he cannot walk up the escalator without a dog in hand, so he unknowingly “steals” the little dog. It’s a short but hilarious scene and easily one of the most memorable.

Marley in Marley and Me

Marley, a cute Labrador, represents a quintessential family dog who, like many pets, brings two people closer together. This is a simple yet highly relatable film about a family who goes through all the stages with their beloved pup—from naughty puppy to calm, faithful friend. It takes us through the ups and downs of one relationship but also sums up why having a pet can be such a bittersweet experience. The years seem to fly by when you have a dog, and Marly and Me conjures up Agnes Sligh Turnbull’s words: “Dogs' lives are too short. Their only fault, really.”  

Benji in Benji

If you have the chance to catch this classic film, do. It was a major success in the 1970s, primarily because it went where no film had gone before—inside the mind of a dog. Benji is a street dog who builds a strong bond with another dog called Tiffany. He fights to ensure they have food and a place to sleep, but must fend off a host of evil humans. When he exposes a kidnapping ring, he and his friend finally find a family who gives them a forever home. This film will have you in tears a few times before Benji and Tiffany finally get their happy ending.

There is something inimitably pure about the human-canine connection, and many great films have tapped into this sentiment. Dogs symbolize the power of trust, even after great loss and disappointment. They also represent the importance of living in the now, since their lives are short but filled with significance, and every day by their side is a gift.