A Good Dog: How ‘Bluey’ Inspires Goodness for the Whole Family

Image Courtesy of Disney+

A red dog gently bunts a cricket ball to his younger sister; she triumphantly catches it and immediately runs to him to celebrate her big play. He proclaims, “What a catch!” while affectionately ruffling her hair as she giggles with glee. Looking on, a father states to his daughter, “That’s what cricket is all about, kid.” I find myself awash in tears while watching this tender and supportive interaction play out on the screen with my young daughters. 

What is it about the Australian kids’ cartoon “Bluey” that tugs my heartstrings? Parents and children alike feel drawn to and inspired by the show. Animated dogs are far from a new genre, and yet “Bluey” possesses a fresh, unique sense of childhood’s wonder and joy. “Bluey” follows the adventures of an anthropomorphic family of Blue Heelers living in Australia. Bluey is a spunky 6-year-old pup, and her 4-year-old sister, Bingo, happily takes the role of her imaginative playmate. Often joining in their elaborate games, their parents create a loving, family-oriented atmosphere. We began watching “Bluey” after our dear friends mentioned its charm and it became a fast favorite in our home. Wading through media meant for children is a daunting task as a parent, but “Bluey” provides a welcoming, safe space to which I find myself continually returning. There’s silliness, foibles, and even the sprinkling of light potty humor; and through it all “Bluey” captures the essence of goodness and family life remarkably well. 

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“Bluey” depicts the mundane, everyday interactions between a family and their friends. “Bluey’s” narratives do not focus on big sweeping storylines but rather on the sacred space of family life. Holding relationships at its center, the pursuit of goodness and harmony is evident in the depictions of both the adults and children in the series. The stories weave a tapestry of virtue I see reflected in my own family. 

Giggles cascade across the room as my daughters carefully guide a ladybug to her newly constructed magic carpet. For an unexplained reason, our home has experienced an influx of ladybug visitors and, inspired by a particularly charming episode of “Bluey” called “Slide,” no bug shall be harmed in our home. In “Slide,” Bluey’s sister Bingo and her best friend Lila develop a system for ensuring that when they careen down the water slide, no bugs are squashed. My sweet, caring girls took this message to heart, and we are now the protectors and playmates of all insects. Small acts of kindness for the tiniest of friends, but kindness nonetheless. 

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Goodness, sometimes defined as virtue in action, radiates throughout “Bluey’s” family as they navigate forming relationships that bless not only one another but also their neighbors, friends, and family. Theologian Stanley Hauerwas describes the development of virtue as narratively formed through stories. I see this development firsthand and subsequently try to be mindful as I curate the stories my daughters watch and read. Yet, I have discovered their characters are not the only ones formed through these narratives.  

Kindness and goodness are depicted not only in the main characters, but also throughout their community; emphasizing our need to both give and receive support. In an episode called “Baby Race,” Bluey’s mom, Chilli, recollects her struggles with comparison early in motherhood. Her anxieties over Bluey’s development are eased when she is visited by a more experienced mom friend who gently informs her, “You’re doing great.” This has become a reminder frequently quoted by my dear friends and me when one of us is feeling the weight of motherhood. Never underestimate the wisdom of a pink poodle and the ripple effect of support. 

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The episode referenced at the beginning of this article, “Cricket,” chronicles the journey of Rusty, a friend of Bluey’s, to become a skilled cricket player. Rusty’s dad is deployed overseas; yet through his letters, he imparts advice on facing fast pitches by writing, “As you grow up, you’ll face harder things than a cricket ball… Just keep your eye on the ball and take care of your little sister for me.” This prompts Rusty to bunt the ball to his sister and celebrate her achievement rather than reveling in his own skill. My older daughter quickly caught onto the thread most pertinent to her life and cooed “Aw! He shared with his little sister.” And that’s the beauty of “Bluey;” she saw a sweet story about sharing with your siblings, while I watched a heartwarming tale about a young dog growing in character and skill, and we both loved every minute. 

The stories that we watch and read with our children form both parent and child. They offer verbiage to discuss tricky topics, provide games and ideas for imaginative play, and gently teach us all the virtue of goodness. By creating a program that highlights the beauty of the mundane and centers on creating healthy relationships with others, “Bluey” has inspired and captivated audiences. All ages can enjoy a show that depicts how kids and parents can both grow in goodness within their everyday lives. As I read, watch, and listen to various stories with my children, I am learning to embrace each narrative that shapes my character, and that of my children, for good – even those starring a small blue dog.