Okay, there's so many Dusty/Kodi topics and articles out there! But what about Dusty and Ralph? I mean Phil Weinstein, the director of Balto 2 and 3, said so himself that he wanted more Dusty/Ralph scenes in the movie, but could only add a couple due to time constraints.
Now, I'm a firm supporter or canon and non-canon pairings, but I'm wondering why Ralph is given such little credit? Is he such a bad guy compared to Kodi? Why don't people like him that much? I personally think it's cuz Ralph isn't the sleek sex-god people see Kodi as. But I'm going to do some extra, neutral, analysis here just to find some more proof so that we can balance out the fandom a little bit.
Let's start at the beginning.
The first thing we notice about Ralph is his voice. Bill Fagerbakke is his actor (and also Mr. Connor's voice) and do you know who else he voiced? Patrick Star from Nickelodeon's Spongebob Squarepants.
Bill Fagerbakke also did some other voice work in cartoons like Kim Possible, Transformers, The Spectacular Spiderman, and more. And every character was rather likable for being silly or any other reason. Now why can't we like Ralph for the same reason?
'Because he whined and complained alot' would be the normal Balto-fan's answer.
Now let's take a look here. Ralph wasn't the only one to complain about conditions or situations. Any secondary sled-dog character BUT Kodi had some kind of excuse as to why they were late delivering the mail and none of them seemed to really care or worry about it either.
"Kodi: We're late again!
Kirby: Yeah, well, what's the big deal? We're just runnin' the mail, not savin' the town.
Ralph: --like your old man.
Kirby: Zip it, Ralph! We would've been on time if you hadn't been draggin' your butt the whole way!"
We see Kirby here blaming it on Ralph for their tardiness.
"Ralph: Me!? I've got a broken toenail and its driving me crazy!"
A broken toenail seems like a pretty legit excuse to me. You ever have one of those? They KILL! ESPECIALLY if you have to run for miles on it afterward.
And correct me if I'm wrong, but isn't it the musher's job to make sure that his dogs are in peak physical condition before running them? So, it wasn't even Ralph's fault for the mail being late, plus it's a pretty good reason to have to slow up if he wanted to avoid further injuries.
"Ralph: Besides, Kirby, you kept yanking to the right!
Kirby: I had a lousy breakfast this mornin'! I got no energy!"
Now that's not a legitimate excuse for slacking either. Breakfast IS the most important meal of the day. And if you're going to be running for hours and hours, then why WOULDN'T you eat a good breakfast?
"Dusty: Hey, hey, it wasn't our faults, y'know? Hello? The ice was slippery? And I mean, everybody knows the snow is treacherous in the spring!"
Yes, that is a legitimate reason for being late. We see this as even being a real dangerous problem later on in the movie as well. And like Dusty said, everyone knows the snow is treacherous in the spring. And by everyone, she probably meant anyone who's had actual experience pulling a sled in every season.
Note: Ralph makes a comment and Dusty is actually shown laughing at it. Obviously showing she finds him funny. This screenshot was taken right after the comment (see the snow on his paw) and Dusty is laughing.
But then here's Kodi after her comment that its simply no excuse for being late and he's rather beefed about it too.
"Kodi: But that's no excuse for being late! Everyone counts on us!"
And just to show that he was referring to DUSTY'S comment.
"Kodi: Neither snow, nor rain, nor sleet, nor hail will stop the US mail!"
And Dusty, like the other dogs, doesn't really take his comment seriously at ALL.
"Dusty: *chuckling* Yeah, what are they gonna do? Fire us? *laughs*"
And here's our first actual piece of evidence pointing towards Dusty/Ralph connection. ACTUAL eye-contact. And no, its not an animation mistake. They're shown staring at each other for a SOLID 5 seconds (until there's a jump-cut to Kirby saying 'Look, Kodi. Bottom line: we got the mail to Nome. Enough said.') and who knows how much longer they stared at each other after that.
Now, there's other things besides staring. They're almost always next to each other. And since I'm going to go for ACTUAL evidence, I'm only going to show scenes where they're standing notably close to each other.
Now since they're not the main focus of the movie, we don't see them until Mel and Dipsy start warning the entire town about the mail-dogs job crisis. We see Dusty out of the two, and just who does she decide to warn first? Kodi? Nope. Its Ralph.
Everyone says that Ralph is lazy and just doesn't want to do anything. Now that's just stupid. If he was lazy, why would be even be a working dog? A working dog is exactly that. They LOVE to work. And Ralph is no exception just because of his size. I mean look at him in this scene. As soon as Dusty warns him, he's up and rarin' to go. He's not wasting ANY time. He knows this is an urgent situation.
People also say he's stupid. But in the scene below, he's the only one who makes the most crucial point out of the entire problem (and I believe they should've really emphasized more on it to just show how bad it would be if the dogs actually did lose their jobs). He says 'If we don't deliver the mail, who will want us?'
If you've read Call of the Wild by Jack London or read any other dog-based story or seen any movie, you see just how cruel dogs were treated back then. Alot were constantly sold and most of them were sold to bad people who didn't give too big a care about their health. So obviously, its a HUGE problem for the dogs, that Ralph brought up, but for some reason they don't even emphasize it that much in the movie.
Now here is just another scene where Dusty and Ralph are standing together.
And here's another scene that shows that Ralph means business. Also shows he's smart and can catch on what Dusty meant when she and Kirby mention that they need the fastest dog in Nome.
"Ralph: The most famous dog in Nome."
Now, since sidelong glances are apparently the MOST noteworthy proof that there's romantic interest among characters, here's one of the many shots of Dusty looking (and smiling) at Ralph. How do I know she's looking at him? Well, he's talking, that's why.
Another scene were Dusty's closest Ralph, and not Kodi.
More proof here, showing not only Dusty's interest in him (no its not an animation error. She only has one thing to look at when she looks to the side, so why wouldn't she be looking at Ralph?) but also showing that Ralph is not lazy. He's anxious to get the race going.
"Ralph:Are you ready? I'm ready! Are you ready? Cuz I'm ready!"
And of course Dusty is smiling at him. She's also staring at him for the majority of that scene.
And once again, Mr. Simpson shows how much of a sucky dog owner he is (maybe he shouldn't even have his job if he keeps wanting to run lame dogs xD). Ralph's toenail still hurts him. But when he says 'We better slow down!' Dusty is the only one who doesn't look at him peculiarly or angrily.
The race carries on and Dusty's weather problem she mentioned earlier now takes into effect and she nearly falls off the cliff. No doubt he's scared for her. Obviously shows he cares about her.
Balto, Kodi's FATHER, seemed more ANNOYED that she nearly fell off (i'll have a screenshot of this soon). Now why would he be ANNOYED or ANGRY at THAT? It was obviously an accident. Plus if his son showed the slightest interest in a girl, you'd think he'd be a little understanding about her nearly falling off a cliff and dying.
This isn't an 'animation mistake'. He holds this face for a couple seconds to let his feelings process into your brain.
Still concerned abut her well-being, even tho she's safely back on track.
And in the next scene, we see that even KIRBY was concerned about her. But look who the heck is smiling!! The only dogs who are heartless apparently. You're probably like 'WELL, KODI'S JUST GLAD SHE'S ALRIGHT!' Now I don't know about you, but one second isn't long enough for me to register and start smiling all calm-like if the one I supposedly loved just nearly fell off a cliff. I'd kind of be going into hysterics.
Now for the cream of the crop. The nuzzle. The in-stone truth that Dusty had SOME interest in Ralph.
I've had people argue with me on this, that a nuzzle means nothing. The lot of you are probably like 'They're DOGS! Dogs nuzzle each other all the time! It doesn't mean anything!!'
Well, first off, if a nuzzle means nothing, I suppose that means every nuzzle Jenna gave Balto was just platonic right? She didn't have any interest in him at all and was totally digging on Morse, right? Yeah. I'm sure.
Second off, why are you putting dogs in every humanlike situation, EXCEPT this one, huh? You've made them have husbands, wives, boyfriends, girlfriends, voices, facial expressions, MORALS. Why are they all practically human up until this point?
Now, lets look at Dusty's character. She's the only girl-dog on a team, meaning all the others are guys right? I mean its simple mathematics. She's playful, spunky, hangs out with the guys, but doesn't let on at ALL that she's a floozy.
***Ladies, you hug your girl-friends right? Why do you hug them? Cuz you like them right? Do you like them romantically? No. Cuz they're girls!
***Another instance, you know this guy, right? He TOTALLY likes you. But you don't like him back, not in 'that way' tho. Right? Do you hug him? No. Now why don't you hug him? Because hugs are a sign of love and affection. And if you don't like a guy 'that way' why would you want to show him a sign of love and affection? Well, if you were a very mean girl and just wanted to get his hopes up, sure you may hug him, but is Dusty mean? No.
***Another instance, you know this guy, right? He TOTALLY likes you. But you DO like him back, and in 'that way'. Do you hug him? Yes! Cuz you want to let him know you like him!
Simple knowledge of human behavior.
Back on track.
Dusty's obviously enjoying herself, and so is Ralph.
She even playfully splashes him and smiles at him. Now this would be considered FLIRTING. Another sign of love and affection amongst people and other anthropomorphic animal characters.
In simple movies such as this, if they show any character reaction and get it across this well, is ALWAYS means something. And in this case, Dusty just nuzzled and splashed Ralph and then ran off. The scene then shows Ralph smiling and then running off after her. He's smiled, see? It means a GOOD thing just happened to that character and it was a mutual thing.
And he does indeed chase after her. And she's even looking back and smiling at him. You can tell. Now if a guy was chasing you for the wrong reasons, wouldn't you be running a little FASTER instead of running by his side?
Here Dusty and Ralph are again, standing next to each other closely, judging by their size and the perspective.
Now here Dusty is here laying by Ralph, and Kodi hitting Kirby in the head. Why wouldn't Kodi be playing with Dusty if he liked her? Or vice versa? Maybe cuz he's not interested?
Here's Dusty again, smiling and laughing at Ralph's teasing of Duke, just like what Kirby and Kodi are doing. But she's standing nearest Ralph.
Back on the subject of Dusty's attitude towards Balto. Just like Kirby and Ralph, she's looking at Balto skeptically. Now if she was into Kodi 'that way' don't you think she'd have the least bit of respect for his father? I mean, this is his Dad, his hero, and the hero of Nome. Why would you follow the crowd and accuse him of 'helping the enemy'?
Off-subject a bit, but this is showing what a good sport Ralph is. Kirby just blatantly made fun of him, and Ralph's laughing with everyone. Dusty is laughing too, cuz obviously she knows that Ralph can take a joke, unlike some people, hahaha.
Dusty is not amused by Balto's heroisms. (the funny thing she holds that face for like ten seconds)
In the boiler room is where we see everyone next. It's after the race and the partying, and everyone's finally noticing how tired they are. Ralph just expressed how achy he is, and Dusty goes through the trouble of actually lifting her head just to see if he was okay. Now why wouldn't she just look at her with her peripheral vision? It's less work. Cuz she's genuinely concerned for him. Yeah, she's frowning, but why are any of them frowning? Cuz they're tired, obviously.
Finally we see Kodi come in and he's starting to express his worry about the pilot. Now for those of you who find any Kodi/Dusty evidence in this particular scene? You're imagining things. Because if you liked someone, why would you accuse them of joining the other side? Dusty's just as mad and skeptical of him as Kirby and Ralph are. She even turns her head away to give him the cold shoulder, like what Kirby and Ralph are doing.
As for Dusty showing concern for Kodi MORE than Kirby or Ralph? How do you not see that Kirby and Ralph feel and look just as guilty as Dusty does.
As for the last scene of Dusty looking at Kodi? Guess who else is looking at Kodi? Kirby and Ralph. Does that mean Kirby and Ralph show some kind of romantic interest in Kodi? No. They're looking at him because he just acted like a leader.
I hope this topic was enlightening for everyone. And I also hoped I balanced out some of the Kodi/Dusty/Ralph fans. Because quite frankly, people are looking ridiculously deep into Kodi/Dusty pairing even if there isn't even anything in the MOVIE. ('Dusty looked at Kodi! THEY'RE IN LOVE!')
Now, you all can still think Dusty ends up with Kodi later on in life. You can still like Kodi better than Ralph. You can still think Dusty and Ralph have a litter in the next movie or whatever. You can think whatever you want. (tho i will admittedly say I want people to stop looking for Kodi/Dusty signs in the MOVIE because they're not there. They're just not xD) But do take what I said into consideration, and stop bashing each other with all the '___ SUCKS! ___ ENDS UP WITH ___!!!' Its getting VERY tiring.