River, The Real Pup Behind Fallout 4’s Dogmeat, Has Passed Away

It’s no secret that behind the unbreakable loyalty of Fallout 4’s Dogmeat is real-life German Shepherd, River. This gorgeous pup brought the fan-favourite companion to life, not just as a reference for Dogmeat’s appearance, but also his behaviour and shining personality.

However, almost six years after her starring role, River has sadly passed away. This heartbreaking news was shared by her owner and Fallout 4 developer Joel Burgess, who described her as a four-legged friend who “loved making people happy.”

Sharing the tragic news just hours ago, Burgess took the opportunity to remember River’s life, and share some behind the scenes details on her work in Fallout. It turns out that River wasn’t originally intended to play Dogmeat, as the team were instead trying to work with professional dogs. This all changed when River began making trips to the office, and as Burgess puts it, became part of the team.

River’s irresistible charms actually directed the team in developing Dogmeat’s characteristics. As any Fallout fan will know, this iteration of the companion has more character than any before him, and that’s all thanks to River. When the team had her around the office, they didn’t just see a fighter or an item-carrier – they saw a friend for the player. “She loved being with the team, and they loved her right back. I believe it shows”, Burgess shares.

Easily one of the cutest tidbits about how River informed Dogmeat’s development comes later on in the thread. “Jean Simone [Fallout developer] and I would take long walks with her, and he noticed that she’d trot ahead, but consistently stop to look back and check in me. This behaviour went into the game, and really connects the dog to you.”

If you ever felt that Dogmeat was the most loyal of all the Fallout 4 companions, you have River to thank for that too. Her behaviour also inspired Dogmeat’s unique combat. You see, Dogmeat isn’t primarily focused on killing your enemies – but keeping you safe. “He’s protecting you, often throwing himself directly in harm’s way, giving you the time and opportunity to deal with the threat yourself. If you’ve ever had a German Shepherd, you understand.”

Overall, the link between Dogmeat and River is poignantly summarised in Burgess’ last tweet.“Dogmeat is a tether. He grounds you in the world, will always stand by you, lead you to your family, and anticipate your needs. He wants you to be safe and happy. In other words, he loves you” explains Burgess.

“And if love is River’s legacy, I am contented. Rest in peace, big girl.”

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