Daryl Dixon (Norman Reedus) finds a mountain man's best friend when he meets a puppy Dog, an animal co-star Reedus tried to take home while filming The Walking Dead. Sunday's episode 1018, "Find Me," flashes back to five years before Season 10, revealing the second year of Daryl's dogged search for Rick Grimes (Andrew Lincoln). One year after Daryl gets slobbery kisses from the seemingly stray pup, he meets the dog's owner: Leah (Lynn Collins). Another six months after that, Daryl learns the dog's name — Dog — and he becomes the dog's new owner when Leah disappears without a trace nearly two years later.
"That dog is my favorite flavor of dog. I just love German Shepherds, and to see that as a puppy really geeked me out," Reedus says in a new behind-the-scenes video, above. "The first thing I said is, 'Can I have him? Can I have him? Can I have him?' They’re like, 'This is our super puppy, and you can't have it.' I really enjoyed that day. I was looking forward to puppy day."
Dog first appears in the Season 9 episode "Who Are You Now?," set six years after Daryl watches Rick blow up a bridge to save his friends and family.
"Up until this point, we thought he spent those six years looking for Rick and that was it," says executive producer Denise Huth. "But he came back with this dog, and I think we all sort of wondered, 'Well, where did the dog come from?'"
Adds showrunner Angela Kang, "We always thought, on the writing side, that the dog came from somebody that he was connected to during that time he was off on his own."
Kang says the story of "Find Me" is "really important for understanding Daryl," who has gone for ten seasons without a romantic storyline. Until now.
"He had this gap in the show where we jumped six years of time, and when we kind of found him, we knew that he'd been kind of almost like 'mountain man Daryl' living on his own out in the wilderness," Kang says. "He was a little bit connected to our people, but really just kind of alone."
Enter Leah and Dog. Reedus spent years hounding the Walking Dead producers about giving Daryl a dog, and his wish was granted when animal actor Seven — the main dog who plays Dog — became Daryl's canine companion.0comments
"Norman wanted to help pick the type of dog, so he kept texting me pictures of adorable dogs for weeks," Kang previously told Entertainment Weekly. "And the two dogs that play the dog are great. The main dog, his name is Seven, and he is just so adorable and such a great dog. So it's a lot of fun seeing Norman work with the pup finally."