Remember watching this movie several times and never tiring of it on cable TV back in the early '80's when cable seemed desperate for theatrical content to get new subscribers by airing not so well known "straight to video" movie releases such as "Beast Master", "Dragon Slayer", "Eraserhead" and "Klondike Fever".
I have to say this movie still holds up as a solid, well written and acted wilderness adventure filmed on location in British Columbia, Canada. The production quality is similar to "Little House On The Prairie" reruns viewed on my Sony Blu-ray BX2 in that the color is quite a bit on the warm-ish green side but sharper for Standard Definition of that time (made for TV movie feel in sound & picture circa late '70's). Some Hue/Sat adjust toward red and reduction in the green channel White Balance Offset on my Samsung HDTV fixed it quick. I had to watch it in 4:5 aspect ratio to get the best picture quality and prevent actors heads looking too wide. That didn't take away from its entertainment value.
I wish they would thoroughly restore this movie from the original master to really do justice to its beautiful Canadian wilderness scenes and authentic looking 1897 period set design and costumes. The pacing, dialog (especially hearing those heavy Canadian accents by way of Fargo) makes this movie more entertaining than most current family friendly movies.
The story isn't a sappy boy and his dog tale. There are no "Old Yeller" sad scenes where the boy talks to the dog as if he understands what he's saying. The dog isn't the central figure but only acts as a bargaining chip and protector of the hero against "Soapy Smith", a mob boss type bad guy who claims ownership played very menacingly by Rod Steiger.