Rest in peace River, the real-life pooch who played Fallout 4's Dogmeat

Rest in peace River, the real-life pooch who played Fallout 4’s Dogmeat

A Fallout 4 developer has shared on Twitter that his beloved companion River, the inspiration behind Dogmeat has passed away.

Joel Burgess shared the news via Twitter as well as photos celebrating River’s life. Intertwined throughout the Twitter thread was a retrospective look that described how River was much more than a model for Dogmeat – an in-game canine companion from Fallout 4 – but a part of the team.

Burgess shared his heartfelt account of having River on the team. He describes River as being the perfect fit for the role, as they did not want to play into the common stereotype of an aggressive, combat-focused German Shepard. Instead, River inspired the dev team with a new personality to be explored. One of tender kindness, unwavering loyalty and boundless curiosity, which helped define the mood of the game.

River attending a Fallout 4 play test.
Image: Joel Burgess via Twitter

Having River around throughout the development process was special for numerous reasons. Firstly, they had one heck of a good boy who loved to make the team happy. As described by Burgess:

“River really loved making people happy… sometimes by bringing us large objects. Her intentions were pure, but her judgement wasn’t always perfect,”

And secondly, a perfect example to design their blueprint for an ideal companion. As River was spending countless hours watching over the Fallout 4 development team and bringing them presents, the team was watching back, taking note of his mannerisms and behaviours to try and perfectly capture his essence and immortalise him through the character, Dogmeat.

The devs even went as far as to place River in a recording studio so they could capture his various barks to use as Dogmeat’s voice lines. Burgess recalls the process behind this where he would stand in an adjacent room where River could smell but not see him, causing River to bark after Burgess.

Regardless of your thoughts towards the Fallout franchise, River’s story and inclusion in it is nothing less than special, and their contributions to the game should not be forgotten. Tonight we’ll be pouring one out for River, and hope you do too.


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