Thanksgiving marks a time of gratitude, family gatherings, and of course, the ceremonious indulgence in turkey and pie. But amidst the hustle of meal prep and house tidying, there’s a particular genre of holiday entertainment that promises to tug at our heartstrings and tickle our funny bones—Thanksgiving dog movies and specials featuring our loyal canine companions.
From animated classics that have charmed generations to specials that might just become your next holiday tradition, let’s unleash the lineup of canine-centric entertainment that celebrates the spirit of Thanksgiving. Grab your remote (and your best friend), and let’s dive into the world of Thanksgiving viewings where dogs aren’t just pets—they’re part of the family.
A Charlie Brown Thanksgiving
Starting our list is the gentle, heartwarming and lovable animated half-hour TV special – A Charlie Brown Thanksgiving. The 1973 release doesn’t focus entirely on dogs but does include Snoopy though, our irresistibly charming beagle friend who never fails to steal the scene.
In this special, Charlie Brown finds himself in a predicament when Peppermint Patty invites herself and her friends over to his house for Thanksgiving dinner. Charlie Brown can’t cook a traditional dinner, so with the help of Linus, Snoopy, and Woodstock, he puts together an unconventional feast that includes toast, pretzel sticks, popcorn, and jelly beans. (My favorite is when Snoopy tries to fold up the lawn chairs!)
Initially upset about the non-traditional fare, Peppermint Patty becomes angry at Charlie Brown, but Marcie reminds her that true thankfulness is about being with friends, not the material aspects of the celebration. The special ends with the friends realizing the importance of gratitude and togetherness, and they all go to Charlie Brown’s grandmother’s house for a proper Thanksgiving dinner.
In 2023, A Charlie Brown Thanksgiving is streaming on Apple+.
The National Dog Show Presented by Purina
The National Dog Show Presented by Purina is an annual event that typically takes place in November in the United States, coinciding with the Thanksgiving holiday. It is one of the most prestigious dog shows in the country, hosted by the Kennel Club of Philadelphia.
The show features thousands of dogs from a wide variety of breeds, all competing for the coveted title of “Best in Show.” Dogs are judged against their breed standards, looking for the dog that best represents the ideal for its breed.
The show is known for its family-friendly atmosphere and has become a Thanksgiving tradition for many, with its broadcast typically occurring right after the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade.
In 2023, The National Dog Show will be aired on NBC from Noon – 2 pm in all time zones.
Best in Show
It doesn’t take place over Thanksgiving but the “Mayflower” dog show (set in Philadelphia) from this 2000 mockumentary comedy film actually provided the inspiration for The National Dog Show!
The film explores the eccentric world of dog shows through a group of zealous dog owners who are all vying for the ultimate prize: Best in Show at the prestigious Mayflower Kennel Club Dog Show.
The narrative is presented in a documentary format, with interviews and segments that delve into the lives and backstories of the owners, revealing their obsessions, idiosyncrasies, and the humorous lengths to which they will go to win. The dogs, in many ways more balanced than their human counterparts, are the catalysts for a series of comical and touching interactions.
Best in Show is available on DVD or streaming on Amazon, as well as on iTunes, Vudu and Google Play.
An Arthur Thanksgiving
“An Arthur Thanksgiving” is an episode from the children’s animated television series “Arthur,” which is based on the book series by Marc Brown.
In this Thanksgiving special, Arthur and his family and friends–and dog Pal–prepare for the holiday. The episode typically explores themes of family, community, and the chaos and comedy that can ensue when preparing for a big holiday event. Arthur’s plans for a perfect Thanksgiving feast are challenged by various mishaps and the demands of his extended family and friends, reflecting the common experiences many viewers have during the holiday.
It’s a story that often highlights the importance of being together and expressing gratitude for one another, despite the inevitable imperfections of any family gathering.
“Garfield’s Thanksgiving” is a holiday special featuring the famously lasagna-loving cat, Garfield. In this special, Garfield learns he needs to go on a diet just as Thanksgiving is approaching, much to his dismay. Jon, Garfield’s owner, tries to put together a traditional Thanksgiving dinner to impress his veterinarian, Liz, whom he has invited over. Odie, the lovable and energetic dog, doesn’t have a starring role in the special, but as Jon’s other pet, he’s involved in the Thanksgiving antics.
Odie’s role is typically that of the silent sidekick to Garfield’s schemes. In “Garfield’s Thanksgiving,” he assists Jon in the preparations for the dinner and provides comic relief. He often contrasts Garfield’s lazy and grumpy demeanor with his own cheerful and excitable personality. Although he does not drive the plot, Odie’s presence adds to the chaotic and humorous atmosphere of the Thanksgiving special as Jon struggles and ultimately fails to prepare a proper feast, leading to Garfield realizing that the best Thanksgiving meal is the one you don’t have to cook yourself.
The Thanksgiving Treasure
The Thanksgiving Treasure is a 1973 television movie starring Jason Robards that tells the story of a young girl named Addie Mills who lives in a small town in Nebraska in the late 1940s.
The movie follows Addie’s attempts to befriend her father’s arch-enemy, Mr. Thompson, in the hopes of ending their long-standing feud. Addie’s motivation for befriending Mr. Thompson is partly because the man has a horse, and partly because of her teacher’s lesson on the importance of being kind to others.
Addie Mills, the main character, has a dog named Beowulf who accompanies her on her adventures. Beowulf is a loyal and playful dog who is always by Addie’s side, and he plays a supporting role in the story.
With the help of her best friend, Carla Mae, Addie tries to bring the two men together for a Thanksgiving dinner. The movie portrays the human kindness for others, which is a central theme of the Thanksgiving holiday.
The Thanksgiving Treasure is available as a DVD on Amazon.