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21 September 2012
One of this morning's questions from That's My Answer was "What is your favorite dog movie?"
One movie didn't immediately leap to mind because I've seen (and loved) so many. I'm a sucker for any sort of animal movie, with a special soft spot in my heart for dog movies.
The first one that came immediately to mind was Lassie Come Home, not necessarily because it is my favorite, but because it may have been the first dog movie I ever saw. Mr. & Mrs. Carraclough are forced to sell the family's beloved collie to the rich duke (father of Elizabeth Taylor). Son Roddie MacDowell is desolate and Lassie spends most of the movie finding her way home. Of course there is ultimately a happy ending for everybody.
I loved Lassie. I loved all the Lassie movies I saw and watched the TV show through the Tommy Rettig years and then the Jon Provost years. I never could understand how Tommy's family could just leave behind their beloved dog when they moved off the farm.
I remember hearing an interview with June Lockhart once where she was talking about what an amazing dog Lassie was supposed to be and how when her charactergot her foot caught in some sort of an animal trip, she sent Lassie home to get a "c-clamp" off of the kitchen counter in the house, which she described to the dog, Lassie, being only a dog, of course, instead brought the c-shaped cheese cutter and Mom had to send her back to the house again.
I met Lassie once. It was the only dog show I ever attended and we went because Lassie was the guest star. I met "her" (all Lassies were really male) on the back steps when I went out to the bathroom. Such a thrill for my dog-loving heart!)
But there are so many other dog movies I remember. Oddly, I know I've seen Old Yeller, but I really don't remember it. However, if you want a tear jerker, you can't beat Where the Red Fern Grows, the story of an Ozarks boy and his two coonhounds, Old Dan and Little Ann. Even though the book was not written until 1961, which means I read it as an adult, I still idenified with the kid who gets these dogs and trains them and watching the relationship grow among all of them.
Of course, this being a tear jerker, the dogs die (both of them), but the miracle that follows their deaths helps ease the pain of loss for little Billy.
I always dreamed of having that kind of relationship with a dog. By the time I had my own dog I was too busy with other things to go off wandering the woods with the dog, having close conversations with them, and training them to do wonderful things. Heck, I still can't get Polly to understand that there are better places the inside to use for toileting, though now that I have puddle pads on the floor, it's slightly less annoying than it was before. I do admit that I love it when she snuggles with me, when Sheila leaves her favorite place outside to come in and lie next to me as I sleep, and when Lizzie looks searchingly into my face, trying to figure out what is going on with me. I suspect these 3 may be the closest I'll ever get to Old Dan and Little Ann.
There were other dog movies I remember that I liked. Remember Milo and Otis? It was the story of a dog and a cat and their adventures together. I don't remember it well, but I loved it because of the pug (I don't remember if it was Milo or Otis!). Those animal adventures are fun, if done well. Homeward Bound, with two dogs and a cat trecking across the country to find their owners, was well done with major voices for the animals (Michael J. Fox was one I remember), but some of them just get too silly, like Beverly Hills Chihuahua. I watched that one because of Polly, but I hated it. I also remember that we had a spate of Chihuahua mixes turned into the SPCA for a year or so after that movie came out...same as the problem people had after everyone went out and adopted Dalmatians after 101 Dalmatians and then discovered that they were more active than they bargained for. I can only assume that all those surrendered Chihuahuas were like Polly and the owners who thought they would be like Paris Hilton's dog were disappointed and frustrated and gave up.
But maybe the very best dog movie ever made was Best in Show. I love anything Christopher Guest makes, but this is one of my favorites.
It follows several dog owners and their preparations and participation in a dog show, as only Christopher Guest can do it. The sight of Guest with his bloodhound running around the ring is my favorite memory of that movie!
I will always have a soft spot in my heart for dog movies and am glad there are so many good ones out there!
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