All Roads Lead Home

After her mother dies, young Belle (Vivien Cardone) becomes depressed and starts acting out. But when her rebellious behavior drives her father to send her to live on her stern grandfather's (Peter Coyote) farm, she learns valuable lessons about love and loyalty — and teaches her grandfather a few lessons of her own.

  • Starring: Vivien Cardone, Peter Coyote and Jason London
  • Director(s): Dennis Fallon
  • Producer(s): Sara Thaemlitz
  • Screenwriter(s): Douglas Delaney
  • Distributor: Waldo West Productions
  • Animal Coordinator: Phil Smith's Animals, Stonecrest Farms
  • Release Date: Friday, September 26, 2008

Featured Animal Action

Cast and crew members were introduced to the animals and instructed on their proper handling before filming began. Whenever animals are seen performing mild action, such as sitting, being held or petted, or being walked by a leash or reins, trainers stood nearby and used hand signals and verbal cues to get the well-trained animals to perform the action. All filming areas were secured and grounds were inspected for debris.

Dogs and Puppies

Anytime dogs or puppies bark, growl or snarl, trainers cued them to "speak." For the scene in the dog shelter, most of the dogs were actual shelter inhabitants and were accustomed to the environment. One "actor" dog was brought in for mild trained action. Any dogs that did not know each other were kept separate from each other. The dogs were cued to bark and walk to the front of their comfortable kennels. Dogs and puppies were kept in their carriers between takes and given plenty of rest, water and praise. An extremely well-trained border collie named Moss played the role of Atticus, and trainers used hand signals, verbal cues and food rewards to get him to perform various actions. Whenever Atticus jumps onto someone, this was a trained behavior — trainers verbally cued him to jump. Most of the playful puppy behavior was natural. Whenever Belle (Vivien Cardone) interacts with the puppies, trainers instructed the actress on what to do and stood nearby to help.

For scenes in which the puppies are removed from or put into burlap sacks, the actors were well-rehearsed to perform the action carefully. The bags were not itchy or rough, and stuffed prop dogs were used in place of live dogs for much of the scene. For shots in which the puppies are in a backpack, the trainer strategically placed a couple of puppies into a soft sack resembling a backpack and handed the sack to the actress, who was well-rehearsed in carrying and handling the sack. Takes were brief and limited. For the scene in which the puppies are seen in a bucket, the bottom of the bucket was packed with hay to raise them up and give them soft footing.

For the scene in which the veterinary technician bathes a pug, the actress was well-rehearsed to lightly spray the dog with warm water and massage him. Takes were limited and the dog was dried and rested immediately afterward.

Animal control officers chase two dogs across the street while Cody (Jason London) is stopped in his car. The vehicle was driven into position and then stopped. Once the car was stationary, trainers brought the dogs to one side of the street and cued them to stay. Then, other trainers across the street called the dogs to them as the "officers" chased behind. The street was closed to traffic.

Atticus the dog watches while Belle, carrying the puppies in her backpack, tries to pull Hock's (Peter Coyote) horse, Apache Wind, away from the train tracks. She falls, letting go of the horse. This scene was filmed in separate shots. Immediately before filming, a trainer placed a puppy in the sack and then cued the adult dog for his shots. When not on camera, the dogs were removed from the scene. Before filming, wranglers handed over control of the horse to the well-rehearsed actress and remained just off-camera to guide her. A rain machine was activated; the animals were familiar with being in the rain. The dogs were dried off between takes, but they were never cold, since it was above 80 degrees during filming. For Belle's fall backward with the puppy in her backpack, the actress only fell until she was out of camera range and was caught by a crew member. The lead dog trainer supported the sack and puppy with her hands during the fall. When Atticus pulls at Belle's pant leg, a dog toy was taped to the actress' pant leg and the dog was cued to "get it." When the animals are near the tracks, no train was present. Wranglers moved the horse to its marks and cued it to stay while the girl appeared to pull on the reins.

Atticus attacks Basham (Evan Parke). The trainer placed Moss the dog on his mark and instructed the actress to feed him and then pet him once the cameras rolled. As Parke approached, the trainer cued the dog to bark and growl, and then to "jump" onto the actor, who fell back in a choreographed fall. For the close-up of Atticus barking, the trainer placed a snarl device over the dog's nose, which lifted the dog's lips. This device was not at all uncomfortable for the dog, who was well-rehearsed to wear it.

Atticus is seen in the backseat of the squad car. Although the car was running (so the air conditioning could run), it never moved. The car that Atticus follows Belle in and out of also never moved, and a trainer hid inside the vehicle to call the dog.

Atticus receives an injection in the stables. The trainer placed the dog onto the exam table and cued him to put his head up toward the actress (he licked her face spontaneously). The well-rehearsed dog was then cued to pretend to sleep or "play dead" after the veterinarian pantomimed the action of giving the injection. A prop syringe was used in the scene and a stuffed prop dog was used for rehearsals. Whenever Atticus has a muzzle on his snout, it was a custom-fit nylon muzzle that the dog was rehearsed to wear and the actress was rehearsed to remove.

While in bed, Belle pulls the puppies out from under the covers as Atticus watches from the window. This scene was filmed inside a real house that was secured and checked for hazards. Trainers placed the puppies under the covers immediately before filming and instructed the actress on how to get them out and hold them. The dog playing Atticus was placed on a padded apple box outside the window and cued to stay. Then hidden trainers used squeaky toys, verbal commands and hand signals to get certain looks from the dog. For an earlier scene in which Atticus scratches at the window, trainers cued the dog to put his paws up onto the window and back down.

While sitting in the bed of a moving truck, Belle drops feed onto the ground to get the horses to follow. The truck was driven into the paddock, and the actors were instructed on how to handle a moving vehicle around animals. The well-rehearsed actor (Coyote) drove the truck slowly a short distance while the actress tossed feed a safe distance from the truck. The horses were accustomed to this action. For the part of the scene in which Atticus stands in the truck's way, a trainer cued Moss to bark while in a sit-stay position. The well-trained dog remained focused on his trainer and was not startled by the truck's presence or movement.

A well-trained Boston terrier named Monster played the role of Magoo. For a shot in which Magoo urinates on the veterinarian, a crew member equipped the actress with a catheter tube under her sleeve and squirted water through it when the actress picked up the dog. When an elderly woman holds a limp Magoo in her arms, the trainer cued Monster to "play dead" in the actress' arms.

For the outdoor grand opening of the new no-kill animal center, a large number of dogs are seen in kennels and held in actors' arms. All actors were well-rehearsed and instructed on the proper handling of the dogs. This scene was filmed on an enclosed set containing double-locked fences. The kennels were custom-made props that contained no sharp edges, objects or hazards, and shade cloth was placed over them when the weather warmed up. All dogs were either in the kennels, on leashes or held by actors.

Production provided documentation that the dead dog seen on the veterinary table and used during the necropsy scene was a prop.


Horses were given ample time to become familiarized with the cast and crew. Whenever someone led a horse by the reins, trainers instructed the person on this action and stood off-camera to supervise. Whenever someone is seen grooming or patting a horse, or touching a horse's hoof or leg, wranglers stood nearby.

When horses are seen in the pasture or in the stables, these horses actually lived on this land and were accustomed to being in these locations. They were filmed doing whatever came naturally, and off-camera wranglers and sometimes costumed on-camera wranglers stood nearby. In a couple of scenes, horses are seen running free through the fields within large confined paddocks. For these shots, wranglers allowed about 10 horses to roam and run free while a helicopter filmed from overhead. The horses were familiar with the paddocks and each other, and the helicopter was too far above to make a startling noise. In one scene, two farm hands wrangle the horses from the paddock, chasing them with buckets of feed. Once the horses approached the feed, the men grabbed their harnesses and pantomimed holding imaginary lead ropes.

All actors who rides on horseback in the film were knowledgeable about horses and trained to ride them.

Hock's horse, Apache Wind, grazes near a tree as Belle sits in the grass with the dogs. For this shot, wranglers tied the horse to a branch and hid behind the bushes. Other trainers were scattered about in case the puppies decided to wander off.

In a few scenes, horses walk or trot in circles inside an exercise enclosure. These scenes were filmed inside an actual "equineciser" machine used for exercising or training horses; however, the electrical element in the divider panels was never activated. While the exerciser was stationary, the lead wrangler walked the horses one at a time into the enclosure and then turned the machine on, except for the electrical component. There was plenty of room for each horse, and the horses never came into contact with the inactivated electric divider panels. Whenever a horse is shown inside the round pen, the wrangler stood just off-camera.


Cody brings a cat into the motel and sets it on the counter, petting it. This trained cat was content to just sit and receive affection. The trainer stood a few feet away and retrieved the cat immediately after each take.

Whenever animal services men hold cat carriers or place cats in carriers inside the van, they used proper-sized cat carriers and the cats were accustomed to them. Trainers placed the cats inside the carriers and stood just off-camera to instruct the actors on the proper handling of the cats.


A blue and gold macaw named Vinny played himself. This bird was well-trained and accustomed to being out of a cage. The perch and toys were the bird's own and the ones it used each day. The bird's owner/trainer stood close by the entire time the bird was being filmed and used hand gestures to get the bird to look in certain directions and act in certain ways. To get the bird to "dance," the owner bobbed his head and the bird mimicked him. To get the bird to spread his wings, the owner touched the bird underneath his wings, causing him to fan them out. Most of the bird action in the film was achieved by filming the bird doing whatever came naturally. Vinny never ate any of the donut Belle offered him.

At the animal shelter opening, when Vinny appears to lay an egg, this was filmed in separate shots. The bird was cued to squawk and the egg was placed in the shot between takes.

Cody takes a diamond dove out of a box, holds it and puts it back. The bird's owner placed it in a small box immediately before filming and instructed the actor on its proper handling. The amount of bird handling was limited. The set was secured and locked, with people standing around the room in case the bird flew away, which it did not.


Production provided documentation that the fish that Belle catches was a dead fish specially purchased from a fish market.

Due to late notification or limited resources, American Humane did not monitor some of the horse action or any of the mountain lion action.