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To Dance with the White Dog

To Dance with the White Dog title card

Year - 1993
Studio - Hallmark Hall of Fame
Stars - Hume Cronyn, Jessica Tandy, Christine Baranski, Terry Beaver, Harley Cross, Esther Rolle, Frank Whaley, Amy Wright, Dan Albright
Director - Glenn Jordan
Writing Credits - Terry Kay (novel), Susan Cooper (teleplay)
Music - Gerald Gouriet

Synopsis

Sam and Cora Peek (Hume Cronyn and Jessica Tandy) have been happily married for fifty seven years, and have raised two loving children, Kate (Christine Baranski), Carrie (Amy Wright), Paul (Terry Beaver), and James (Frank Whaley). Sam is a successful pecan grower, and is passing on his knowledge to his grandson, Bobby (Harley Cross).

When Cora dies, Sam is left with an aching void in his life. But he insists on maintaining his independence and caring for his pecan grove, despite an increasingly painful hip problem. His children worry about his condition and daughters Carrie and Kate make frequent visits, despite Sam's complaints that they are hovering.

Sitting down for a meal, Sam sees a beautiful, pure white dog standing in his doorway (an Australian Shepherd). He tries to shoo the dog away, but she only only cocks her head and stares at him. He gives in and feeds the dog, who then falls asleep on his porch.

Kate arrives to check on Sam, but she denies having seen the white dog outside. Soon, although Robert is regularly feeding and caring for the dog, the other family members have not seen it, and they begin to suspect that he is imagining this companion.

To Dance With the White Dog poster

Paul gives his father a walker to replace his cane. Although, Sam thinks the walker is unnecessary, when he tries it out, the dog comes, puts her front paws on the handles with him, and, as Sam moves back and forth, they "dance" together.

Alone in his house at night, Sam suffers extreme pain and falls unconscious to the floor. The white dog runs to daughter Carrie's house nearby, and barks. She, for the first time, sees Sam's dog, and goes to her father's house. Sam is hospitalized with a severe infection in his hip.

After being released from the hospital, he makes a decision to drive his old pickup truck to Madison, some distance away, to attend a reunion at the high school where he met Cora. Before she died, she had talked about wanting to go to the event. He takes along his white dog. But he doesn't inform his children and, finding him missing, they begin to search frantically.

Arriving at the old schoolhouse, Sam sees the old and infirm people entering the building and decides that he doesn't belong there. He starts his return trip home but, taking the wrong fork, becomes stuck on a flooded road. When he attempts to exit his pickup, he falls into the water and is carried downstream.

The dog runs to the highway where Paul, James and Bobby, driving in search of the missing patriarch, see her standing in the middle of the road. They follow the dog into the woods and rescue Sam, stranded on the side of the river.

At home in bed with pneumonia, Sam tells the dog that she can now leave, and the dog walks away from the house. He later explains to James, "It was her. It was my beloved Cora." He tells his son that, when he's gone, they'll find the white dog at the cemetery.

After Sam dies, his sons visit his grave. There, on the freshly dug earth, are paw prints.

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