‘Fallout 4’ Fans Mourned The Death Of The Real Dog That Inspired Dogmeat’s Design

Fallout 4 has a special place in the hearts of the fans of the series for any number of reasons, but your character’s animal companion is likely at the top of that list for most. Which is why news that the real-life inspiration for Dogmeat dying drew considerable mourning in the real world from Bethesda RPG fans over the weekend.

The animal companion appears in the 2015 followup to the much-loved Fallout 3. Set in Boston, Fallout 4 has your Sole Survivor exploring the Commonwealth and stumbling into a very cheerful German Shepherd who happens to be great at tracking. If you so choose, Dogmeat can be a companion the rest of the game, helping attack raiders and solve mysteries and unravel the rest of the game’s plot.

But that dog was far more than just a very useful NPC. It was actually modeled on a real-life dog named River, who belonged to the family of Joel Burgess, then-senior designer at Bethesda. Burgess, who worked on several Fallout games and is now the Capy Games studio director, shared on Twitter early Sunday that River, the dog who inspired Dogmeat in Fallout 4, had died.

Burgess shared a long thread that not only explained Dogmeat’s origins in the game, but River’s impact on the team as the project went from ambitious sequel to reality.

The name “Dogmeat” trended on Twitter by Sunday afternoon, likely confusing people not familiar with the post-apocalyptic series and its canine companion. But the tributes from fans and studio employees alike were filled with sentiment and love.