The animal presence in the film Shooter in form of the main character’s dog Sam plays into the theme of friendship and loyalty that is present throughout the whole film. The first time the viewer meets Sam is right after a 36 months time skip following the opening scene of the film. Through the events in this scene, the betrayal and abandonment of Bob and his best friend Donny in enemy territory by their superiors which results in Donny’s death, Bob has lost faith in humans and now lives in isolation. This becomes apparent through his appearance as well as the isolated location he is now in when the viewer sees him again. At first he seems to be completely alone in the wilderness. But then Bob calls and Sam appears from quite some distance and runs towards him. This opening scene already reveals a lot about the relationship between the two. His immediate response to being called while being quite far away show Sam’s loyalty to his owner. The enthusiastic way the two greet each other, Sam jumping up at Bob, shows how much they care. The loyal animal is the only companionship Bob has out there, not coincidentally “men’s best friend”, a dog, after he lost his best friend in the beginning of the film. After being betrayed by humans, Bob chooses Sam as his companion due to this loyalty, as the dog would never betray him. And he never does. Ironically though, Sam is killed due to human betrayal, mirroring the death of Donny. And Bob blames himself for both of their death, as he sees himself as the cause they got in that situation. Bob has off screen already killed the man that abandoned them on the mission, and he also wants to revenge Sam. Bob establishes in the beginning that he is willing to kill for Sam and he sticks to it. An understandable notion, having raised him and being the only thing left he cares about, he sees Sam as an equal friend instead of just a pet. This is apparent the first time they are seen together, the dog on his hind legs about the same height as the human. In the way Bob talks to Sam, how a picture of Sam as a puppy is the screen saver, how Sam is not dependent on the human but would be able to take care of himself alone. Most apparent is it when they share a beer, something human friends would do.
The importance the film itself places on the animal despite the very short presence time is shown when Sarah, who just met Bob and knows nothing about his relationship with his dog, tells him of his death in a very serious way. The film does not just forget about Sam. When offered an out of fighting the people having set him up by Memphis, he angrily refuses: “I don’t think you understand. These boys killed my dog”. The fact that it would not work comes only secondary. Bob cannot forgive the death of his friend.