The Dog Who Saved Christmas

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The Dog Who Saved Christmas
Written byMichael Ciminera
Richard Gnolfo
Directed byMichael Feifer
StarringMario Lopez
Dean Cain
Elisa Donovan
Sierra McCormick
Adrienne Barbeau
Gary Valentine
Joey Diaz
Music byAndres Boulton
Country of originUnited States
Original language(s)English
Producer(s)Michael Feifer
Jeffrey Schenck
CinematographyHank Baumert Jr.
Editor(s)Bryan Roberts
Matt Steinauer
Running time88 minutes
Production company(s)Barnholtz Entertainment
DistributorABC Family
Original networkABC Family
Original release
  • November 29, 2009 (2009-11-29)

The Dog Who Saved Christmas is a 2009 American made-for-television Christmas comedy film starring Dean Cain, Gary Valentine and the voice of Mario Lopez. It was written by childhood friends Michael Ciminera and Richard Gnolfo. It premiered on ABC Family on November 29, 2009 during their Countdown to 25 Days of Christmas programming block.[1] It was ranked as the number one cable program during its timeslot, and the number one cable film in the winter of the 2009 with 4.0 million viewers.


Zeus, a Labrador Retriever and a former police dog, has lost his bark after his barking ended up blowing off a five-year investigation and his partner can't shoot straight again and ends up at the pound. He is adopted by George Bannister as both an early Christmas present and as a good guard dog for the house, but the mom is hesitant and didn't want a dog. The dog is left home alone on Christmas Eve when the family head off to visit Grandma's house. A pair of burglars, Ted Stein and Stewey McMann break into the family home, and it is up to Zeus to save Christmas for his new family by setting up booby traps to stop them. Zeus soon gets caught by the burglars and they muzzle him and continue to rob the house. Zeus escapes while Ted and Stewey continue to rob the house. Zeus gets chased through the house by Ted and Stewey until Stewey accidentally pepper sprayed himself. Ted then takes out a tranquilizer gun and tries to shoot Zeus but gets Stewey instead knocking him out. Ted tries to escape the house (with Stewey who's still knocked out) but Zeus finishes them off for good by dropping a chandelier on them, knocking the two robbers out. The police come and arrest Ted and Stewey and Zeus finally barks. The family come back and see Ted and Stewey getting arrested and spend a Merry Christmas together.[1][2]


It also features members of the production team in various supporting roles. Writers Richard Gnolfo and Michael Ciminera are credited as Policeman 1 & 2, while the director/producer Michael Feifer is credited as Police Officer 2.


The Dog Who Saved Christmas was broadcast on Sunday, November 29, 2009 and was cable's number one program during its time period of 8:00pm–10:00pm with 4.0 million viewers. It was also ranked number one in scripted telecasts on cable during that Sunday, and became the season's number one cable film. It had a 14% increase in viewers from the same timeslot in the previous year.[3]

Critics compared it to another Christmas dog themed TV movie of 2009, A Dog Named Christmas and cited influences from Home Alone and Look Who's Talking.[4] A Dog Named Christmas was broadcast on the same night as The Dog Who Saved Christmas with the original timings overlapping by an hour.[5] Critics rated A Dog Named Christmas as the superior film over The Dog Who Saved Christmas, but praised the performances Adrienne Barbeau and Mindy Sterling.[6]

The Dog Who Saved Christmas won several "Yulies" from the Popwatch column on Entertainment Weekly's website. The categories it won included "MVP: Most Valuable Pooch" and "Best Use of Dean Cain".[7]

It was given the "Family Approved" seal by The Dove Foundation.[8] Commonsense Media graded it as appropriate for ages 6 and up.[9]


A sequel, The Dog Who Saved Christmas Vacation, aired on ABC Family in 2010.

A second sequel, The Dog Who Saved Halloween, was released directly to DVD in September 2011.[10]

A third sequel, The Dog Who Saved the Holidays, was released directly to DVD on December 4, 2012.

A fourth sequel, The Dog Who Saved Easter, was released directly to DVD on April 8, 2014. It stars Dean Cain, Elisa Donovan, Beverley Mitchell, Mario Lopez, Patrick Muldoon, Matthew Lawrence and Catherine Hicks.

A fifth sequel, The Dog Who Saved Summer, was released directly to DVD on June 2, 2015. It stars Dean Cain, Gary Valentine, Elisa Donovan, Patrick Muldoon, Mario Lopez, Martin Kove, James Hong and William Zabka.


  • A dark grey cell indicates the character was not in the film.
Character Film
Christmas Christmas Vacation Halloween Holidays Easter Summer
Ted Stein Dean Cain
George Bannister Gary Valentine Gary Valentine
Zeus Mario Lopez Joey Lawrence Mario Lopez
Belinda Bannister Elisa Donovan
Kara Bannister Sierra McCormick Kayley Stallings Caitlin Carmichael Caitlyn Leone Francesca Capaldi
Ben Bannister Charlie Stewart Brennan Bailey Wyatt Griswold Michael Leone Cole Jensen
Stewey McMann Joey "Coco" Diaz
Annie Mindy Sterling
Mildrid Adrianne Barbeau
Bella Paris Hilton
Randy Casper Van Dien
Zack Michael William Arnold
London James Carlson Young
Sotherby David O'Donnell
Dottie Catherine Oxenberg
Cornelias "Eli" Cole Lance Henriksen
Medusa Mayim Bialik
Max Curtis Armstrong
Kent Louis Mandylor
Monique Kristen Miller
Marilyn Christina DeRosa Christina DeRosa
Eve Peyton List Kimberly A. Ray
Ned Michael Gross
Aunt Barbara Shelley Long
Tony Rowe Jack Scalia
Alice Beverly Mitchell
Fred Stein Patrick Muldoon
Cressida Catherine Hicks
Gabrielle Nicole Eggert
Will Matthew Lawrence
Minnie Madelyn Deutch
Karen Tiffany Thornton
Mr. Lee James Hong
Vernon Martin Kove
Marsha Mackenzie Marsh
Apollo William Zabka


Film title Directed by Executive Producers Screenplay by Music composed by Edited by Cinematography by
The Dog Who Saved Christmas Michael Feifer Jeffrey Schenck, Zelma Kiwi, and Barry Barnholtz Michael Ciminera and Richard Gnolfo Andres Boulton Bryan Roberts, Matt Steinauer Hank Baumert
The Dog Who Saved Christmas Vacation Michael Ciminera, Richard Gnolfo, and Peter Sullivan Andres Boulton and Chad Rehmann Sean Olson Jeffrey D. Smith
The Dog Who Saved Halloween Peter Sullivan Chad Rehmann George Reasner
The Dog Who Saved the Holidays Michael Feifer Michael Ciminera and Richard Gnolfo Andres Boulton and Chad Rehmann Ely Mennin Roberto Schein
The Dog Who Saved Easter Sean Olson Michael Ciminera, Richard Gnolfo, Sean Robert Olson, and Peter Sullivan Jason Brandt Sean Olson Joseph M. Setele
The Dog Who Saved Summer Michael Ciminera, Richard Gnolfo, and Peter Sullivan


  1. ^ a b Eve, Sarah. "The Dog Who Saved Christmas TV Movie Review". Totally Her. Archived from the original on 2009-11-30. Retrieved 2009-12-14.
  2. ^ Gerlach, Linette (2009-11-10). "The Dog Who Saved Christmas". Retrieved 2009-12-14.
  3. ^ Seidman, Robert (2009-12-02). "World Television Debut of The Dog Who Saved Christmas is the Season's No. 1 Cable Movie in Total Viewers". TV By The Numbers. Retrieved 2009-12-14.
  4. ^ Wiser, Paige (2009-11-29). "The dog days of Christmas". The Chicago Sun-Times. Retrieved 2009-12-14.
  5. ^ "BARK the herald angels sing". Deseret News. 2009-11-26. Retrieved 2009-12-14.
  6. ^ Heinrich, Jim (2009-11-25). "TV: 'A Dog Named Christmas' better of two Xmas-canine shows Sunday". Scripps News. Archived from the original on 2010-01-14. Retrieved 2009-12-14.
  7. ^ Snierson, Dan (2009-11-29). "The 2nd Annual Yulies: An absurd celebration of the holiday TV-movie genre". Entertainment Weekly. Retrieved 2009-12-14.
  8. ^ Rolfe, Donna. "The Dog Who Saved Christmas". The Dove Foundation. Retrieved 2009-12-14.
  9. ^ "The Dog Who Saved Christmas". Commonsense Media. Retrieved 2009-12-14.
  10. ^ The Dog Who Saved Halloween on IMDb

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