Not only are they real to the K-9, but his fight against them becomes the sole purpose of his life. That is... until he finds out these "criminal masterminds" are fake, and that his whole life has been, up to that point, an illusion! An illusion created by a film cast. "Bolt" realizes that he is not the writer of his own life... he has writers who are writing his life.
His world has come crashing down, and for awhile "Bolt" doesn't think he'll make it. But the disappointment soon leads him on a path of self-discovery that transforms into a real hero.
So while coming to terms with the fact that his life had all been a game so far, in the long run, it helped him to become something truly great. Something truly heroic. It re-emphasizes to us, that Government can only feed us their myths, lies, and empty slogans for so long. It can only feed us their illusions for a time. We The People, will not live our lives as if we're running in some sort of hamster wheel! It's only a matter of time, before We The People spit out the bureaucratic garbage, the Government so often spoon-feeds us.
The time will come when the common person, realizes that the Government was not meant to define and determine what our lives are. And as soon as the common person realizes that, society will go on a journey of self-discovery much like "Bolt" did. It will be a journey where We The People will ultimately triumph.