Earlier this week, I had the pleasure of attending the first virtual program of the Walt Disney Family Museum’s Cats And Dogs exhibition, featuring Dug Days director Bob Peterson and producer Kim Collins.

Bob Peterson is an Academy Award-nominated screenwriter, director, and voice talent at Pixar Animation Studios. Peterson has been a key player at Pixar since 1994, where his first assignment was as a layout artist and animator on Toy Story (1995). He went on to work as a story artist on A Bug’s Life (1998), Toy Story 2 (1999), and as story supervisor for Monsters, Inc. (2001). On Finding Nemo (2003), Peterson and his fellow writers, Andrew Stanton and David Reynolds, were recognized with an Oscar nomination for Best Original Screenplay. On the Academy Award-winning 2009 feature UP, Peterson made his directorial debut as co-director, and was nominated along with co-director Pete Docter and writer Thomas McCarthy for Best Original Screenplay. Peterson also contributed to the original story for The Good Dinosaur (2015) and was a screenwriter on Cars 3 (2017).

Peterson has also lended his voice to several memorable characters including paperwork-obsessed Roz in Monsters, Inc., the musical manta ray teacher Mr. Ray in Finding Nemo, and Dug the dog in UP. The former is reprised in the series who wrote and directed, Dug Days, which debuted on Disney+ in September of 2021.

Kim Collins joined Pixar Animation Studios in June 2000. She has worked in production management on several projects, including the Academy Award-winning features The Incredibles (2004), Ratatouille (2007), UP (2009), Brave (2012), and Toy Story 4 (2019). She teamed up with Peterson to bring the short-form series, Dug Days, to life.

Though the series has been around since 2021 on Disney+, the sixth and final entry in the series, “Carl’s Date,” marks a return to Pixar shorts attached to a theatrical release, debuting in front of Elemental earlier this month. As the short is still in theaters, the pair did not talk much about this particular story, but those attending the program were treated to (my personal favorite) of the Dug Days episodes, “Puppies.”

In the episode, a neighbor brings Carl and Dug a box of puppies to look after for the afternoon. While initially Dug is very excited to have the new friends in his care, he discovers that they are a lot of work and also a threat to his special toys for dogs. After the viewing, (you can still watch this episode, now available on Disney+), the creators dove into a special presentation that shared much of the development and work that went into the series. However, if you tuned in to get more information about “Carl’s Date”, you were left wanting, at least until a little later in the presentation.

Dug Days, as a whole, is a collection of shorts that follow the humorous adventures of Dug, the talking dog that made his debut in 2009’s Up. As that movie came out over a decade ago, technology has advanced exponentially, and according to Bob and Kim, all the models of Dug that were created for the original film had to be remade with the newer tech, yet staying true to the canine we all love. Once the models were, um, remodeled, Bob set out to explore what he calls “canine truths,” or stories that were relatable to dog owners or frankly, anyone who has ever encountered a dog before. As such, the series is filled with relatable humor and heart. Part of the initial pitch for the series was that each episode would focus on what a dog would feel, boiled down to that single emotion. Fear, Love, etc.

The pair also shared the story of how Russell makes another appearance in the series thanks to archival recordings. Dug Days takes place almost immediately after the events of Up so having the original actor won’t work, right? Bob and Kim explained that they were able to take some recordings from 2008 that weren’t used for the final film and edit them together, so when we hear Russell in Dug Days, it’s the original voice actor Jordan Nagai reprising the role of Russell.

While on the topic of production design, sharing that most of it was lifted from Up since the short-form series is a spin-off of the film, the showcased the addition of the Kevin whirligig seen on Carl’s new home, the only nod to Kevin you see in the series as this collection of shorts is focused on Dug and Carl back at home. In fact, using “Puppies” as the example, some elements have a personal touch. The arrival of the puppies in the box harkens back to a childhood moment for Peterson when someone left a box with a puppy in it on the porch of his Brooklyn home.

The presentation also included pictures of the recording of the series’ soundtrack at the iconic Abbey Road studios in England. Bob and Kim shared that much of this portion of the production took place over Zoom at this time thanks to the Global COVID-19 pandemic, but Bob’s excitement was through the roof as he explained that he pressed his face against his monitor just to see this legendary recording studio where The Beatles recorded their albums. He joked that in the episodes you can faintly hear “Yeah yeah yeah” in the distance in a ghostly fashion.

Aside from the five episodes now streaming on Disney+, Bob and Kim shared their excitement for the sixth and final Dug Days short to be on the big screen alongside Elemental, as it was assumed it would be nested in with the original set of episodes. Bob even called “Carl’s Date” a “nice closure” to the series as a whole before he and Kim commented on how different it is compared to the original five shorts, as it told from the shared perspective of both Carl and Dug, whereas the original five are mostly from Dug’s perspective.

Next up was everyone’s favorite topic – Easter Eggs! In this portion, they talked about hats with initials, candies and treats, and even frog bookends. I hate to glance over the topic, but I can tell you more about the specific ones you’ll find throughout the episodes over on this page here. Back when the series debuted, I was fortunate enough to speak with Bob and Kim about a particular easter egg I spotted that they confirmed when I talked to them, and you can watch that in the video here. This egg, however, was sadly not brought up in this WDFM presentation.

Then it was on to the Q & A, which is always full of fun new information, and at least one piece of advice on how to get a job as an animator/at Pixar. I’ll spoil it now – be yourself, be an individual. Don’t give the answers or show work you think recruiters want to hear or see. They usually don’t want those.

As for Dug Days and what lies ahead, it has already been announced that “Carl’s Date” is the last in the short form series. Bob and Kim say they would never want to recast Carl, as Ed Asner did a wonderful job as the character before he passed away earlier this year. Aside from that, anything new with Russell would likely have to be recast as his original actor is too old and there are only so many archival recordings that they can pull from. Bob and Kim both have said that the idea they could visit, or whatever could come up would have to be something that would really make them want to revisit these characters. After all, as they said earlier in the Q & A portion, they explained that Dug, Carl, and Russell are all legacy characters, and it is their responsibility to oversee them and make sure they are true to that character that everyone fell in love with in the first place.

After all, that’s what makes them so loveable right? And the episodes and moments that Bob and Kim love? Bob shared that he loved “Fireworks” as it was “really fun” but it was the emotional moments (which he and Kim agreed were the hardest for him to perform) in “Science” when Carl tells Dug that he is his best friend, that stand out to him in the series. Kim enjoyed Dug, Squirrel, and Blue Jay arguing over the sandwich in “Science,” but did the unthinkable after that when sharing her moment. Where Bob decided to steer away from talking about “Carl’s Date” when answering the dreaded favorite moment question, Kim embraced it and stayed spoiler free but shared that when Dug places his paw on Carl’s leg in the new short, with the way Dug looks at Carl, that was her favorite moment in the series. Bob gave in and also shared his spoiler-free moment from “Carl’s Date” as well, owning up that he also loves a visual gag wherein Dug has a plunger on his nose that nobody seemed to find quite as funny as he did.

You can catch Dug Days – “Carl’s Date” in theaters now attached to Pixar Animation Studios’ latest film, Elemental. The rest of Dug Days is now available to stream on Disney+. Back when the series first debuted in 2021, I had the great pleasure of sitting with Bob and Kim myself, and you can check that out in the video below.

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Tony Betti
Originally from California where he studied a dying artform (hand-drawn animation), Tony has spent most of his adult life in the theme parks of Orlando. When he’s not writing for LP, he’s usually watching and studying something animated or arguing about “the good ole’ days” at the parks.