River, The Dog Behind Fallout 4's Dogmeat, Has Passed Away

Developer Joel Burgess confirmed the passing on his Twitter account

By Kyle Knight

June 27, 2021

Many dog lovers will have found great joy in the Fallout 4 companion, Dogmeat. But unfortunately, the model and inspiration behind the gaming companion, River, has sadly passed away.

Joel Burgess, a developer on various Fallout titles, announced the heartbreaking news on Twitter. However, instead of using the moment to eulogize her, he instead opted for a deeper look into how River had such a great impact on the world of Fallout 4.

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Who Is Dogmeat?

In Fallout 4, Dogmeat is a German Shepard, companion, ally, and friend during the course of the game. Players are able to issue commands to Dogmeat to attack enemies or to stay put in one place.

Of course, players weren’t required to have Dogmeat as a companion. But why would you not want a German Sheppard by your side while you played?

How Did River Inspire Dogmeat in Fallout 4?

River was the real-life German Sheppard that inspired the in-game companion, Dogmeat. As noted by Burgess, Dogmeat was a companion first and an ally in combat second.

In Burgess’ Twitter thread, he details how the developers searched through various “professional” dogs until River started visiting the Bethesda studio. The team then began forming a special bond with the adorable German Sheppard.

River quickly became part of the Fallout team and was even awarded ‘Best Dog’ for her model work as Dogmeat. Many fans will of course notice that River and Dogmeat are identical, even in terms of fur markings and facial expressions.

She wasn’t just the model though, River was even in the studio doing a lot of the sounds for Dogmeat.

Small details of River were also incorporated into the game. Burgess notes how he would take long walks with River, and although she’d trot ahead, she would always turn around and check back in on him. Something that was then added into the character of Dogmeat.

You can check out Burgess full Twitter thread below, where he discusses everything that River did to inspire Dogmeat. Although the circumstances of which this thread began are heartbreaking, it’s fascinating to know just how much River really inspired Dogmeat in Fallout 4. The team clearly worked endlessly to incorporate as much of Rivers personality and likeness as possible into the game.

Burgess finishes the thread beautifully by stating, “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.”

DualShockers sends our heartfelt condolences to Burgess and everyone who was impacted by River at the Fallout team. Burgess encouraged those who are able to either volunteer or donate to a local rescue. Check out ASPCA or Humane Society International if you’d like to make a donation in Rivers’ memory.

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Kyle Knight

Kyle is a Film and TV graduate from Coventry. He's a PC enthusiast with a not so enthusiastic PC and is all about triple-A titles!

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