September 14, 2015 | Posted in Breeds and Stars

at the premiere of "Brokeback Mountain". Mann National Theatre, Westwood, CA. 11-29-05

© Sbukley |


The highly-popular and critically-acclaimed film “Brokeback Mountain” played an important role in furthering actor Jake Gyllenhaal’s career.

But the film held meaning for him in a more personal way as well.  Filming in Wyoming, surrounded by horses, sheep and dogs during production, his love for animals grew stronger.

Gyllenhaal says he’d always had “a distant” relationship with animals in the past, but soon after “Brokeback Mountain” filming ended, he realized he wanted his own dog – a watchdog.

He adopted a black and tan German Shepherd mix and named him Atticus Finch.  Atticus and Jake could be seen walking the streets of Los Angeles or running errands, often stopping at pet stores for organic dog food. Jake and Atticus spent quality time at the beach or dog park, too.

When Jake and actress Kirsten Dunst began a romance, they walked Atticus together and even when the relationship broke up, Jake and Kirsten had a shared parenthood with Atticus.

Jake’s experience with Atticus was so positive that he decided to add another dog to his family. In 2006 he adopted a puppy whom he said “was too cute not to get.” The dog in question is a Puggle – a mixture of Pug and Beagle. The pup is named Boo Radley.

Literary or film buffs might recognize the names of Jake’s dogs.  They’re major characters from “To Kill a Mockingbird”, which is his favorite novel.

A proud Jake appeared on the Ellen DeGeneres talk show soon after he brought Boo into his household and, like a proud “papa” said, “He is a joy to be around and makes me smile every time I see him.”

This isn’t to say Atticus doesn’t still play a special role in Jake’s life.  But the two dogs are completely different in personality and needs.

Atticus is large and strong, older, and frequently walks without a leash when with Jake, he’s so well-behaved. He even sports a t-shirt from time to time when on walks.

Boo, being so much smaller, can be seen as more fragile and Jake often carries him in his arms even on “walks.” He carries him nestled in the crook of his arm and Boo looks peaceful and contented, as well as a little comical.

Jake has been seen dining at an outdoor restaurant with a group of people including sister Maggie Gyllenhaal.  Atticus will be found lying next to Jake’s chair.  Boo is invariably in Jake’s lap, sitting at the table.

Clearly, both dogs have won a spot in the heart of this fairly new dog lover, who can be seen currently in “Prisoners” with Hugh Jackman.