Rockford, Alabama, is a small rural town with a population of less than 500 people. There’s only one red light in town.
One day in 1993, a black and white dog strolled into town and made himself at home. He wandered the roads and made the rounds to his favorite stores, restaurant and people’s home. Even when someone tried to “rescue” him and take him home, Fred always returned to Rockford.
Despite his bedraggled appearance, Fred endeared himself to Rockford’s residents, who all chipped in to care for him in various way. Fred found a place in the community, playing with local children, helping old people cross the street and giving love to people who needed it.
Soon Fred’s story began to spread far beyond Rockford — and it was his turn to help Rockford from becoming just another ghost town in the South.
Documentarian Ava Lowrey’s short documentary is a warmhearted, loving portrait of how communities are built and maintained, and a tribute to the unique circumstances and ideas that create the heartbeats that help them thrive.
With a keen eye for detail, Lowrey’s direction captures the look, textures and feel of this small Southern town. Viewers can sense both Rockford’s economic struggle in the face of a fast-changing world, as well as the charm, warmth and caring of its residents.
The editing of the short keeps the audience moving forward while still capturing the indelible rhythm of Rockford, and each moments adds up to portray Fred’s character, personality and the effect he has on the people and town he comes to love.
“Fred: The Town Dog” — which won several awards on the documentary film festival circuit — is heartwarming slice of unique Americana that is both realistic in capturing the challenges of small towns in the country, but also unearthing just why these communities are so worth saving. Fred became the “town mascot and “Rockford’s Beloved Companion,” but also the catalyst for a town to come together. Though Fred eventually passed away, he became a symbol of Rockford’s sense of loyalty, genuine welcome and what it means to create solidarity — the best that America has to offer.