The dog who played Dogmeat in Fallout 4 has passed away

An image of Dogmeat from Fallout 4
(Image credit: Bethesda)

River, the dog who was used as the model of Fallout 4 companion Dogmeat has passed away, their owner has confirmed. 

Joel Burgess, now a studio director at Capy Games, confirmed the news on his Twitter. In a thread eulogizing River, he spoke about how River came to be the basis for Dogmeat and all the work that went into making them a fully believable animal companion. 

Burgess said: "This thread is essentially a long form of the story I always tell about River’s role in Fallout 4; that she was the antidote to my biggest worry for the Dogmeat character – a canine weapon, and nothing more."

While River wasn't the intended starting point for Dogmeat, she eventually won over the development crew. This ended up with Burgess using his dog to help bring the digital German Shephard to life.

He shares that after a new member joined the Dogmeat team, it sparked the catalyst to get his own dog involved: "I visited their desk a day or so later. Research covered the walls; countless images of German Shepherds snarling, all teeth and attack postures. Within a day or two, River started visiting the studio."

Burgess also revealed it wasn't just the look Dogmeat provided, but many of their behavioral traits came from River too. River used to bring objects as presents for people, a trait that Dogmeat shares, who can bring you useful items they find in-game.

Burgess finished by saying: "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. And if love is River's legacy, I am contented."

Losing a beloved pet is always a tough experience, and the Fallout community can feel it together at the moment. While River has passed, it's a nice sentiment that she will live on in one of the most popular video games ever made. Preserved in-game forever, she will continue to bring enjoyment and companionship for as long as people are playing Fallout 4. In terms of being man's best friend, River was a friend to millions of players. That's a pretty big legacy for one dog. 

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Guides Editor at TechRadar

Patrick Dane is currently the Guides Editor at TechRadar. However, he was formerly a freelance games journalist writing for sites and publications such as GamesRadar, Metro, IGN, Eurogamer, PC Gamer, and the International Business Times, among others. He was also once the Managing Editor for Bleeding Cool.