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Consider this your “spoiler alert” warning right here, right now. A few weekends back, I found myself with nothing to do on a Saturday night. Upon realizing this would be one of the few weekends for “me time,” I poured a (large) glass of wine and decided to lounge on the couch with a movie. I can’t say exactly what led me to the decision to select the feature film ‘A Dog’s Purpose’, but sure enough, it happened.
It could be my very basic-white-girl-instinct to absolutely adore dogs; in fact, I’m pretty sure that’s what it is. Doggos are number one, in my humble opinion. The other appealing aspect of ‘A Dog’s Purpose’ is the rating, which is PG. One could argue that I generally like movies geared towards audiences 8 and under because I spend too much of my time with tiny people aged 8 and under, but that wasn’t really it. I didn’t want a movie too heavy or dramatic, nor did I want something I had to devote my full attention to on a Saturday night. Hook, line… and the sinker? The whole premise of the movie was pretty much revealed in the trailer:
I was supremely confident in a happy ending, a feel-good family film from the wonderful folks at Disney. And just pump the brakes now, because the movie was actually cleared of the supposed animal rights violations, so literally no harm, no foul. Plus, the narration of Josh Gad, the same yucko who voiced Olaf from Frozen, made me feel pretty confident in my selection. I was firmly settled in my choice and pressed play.
Now, as you recall, the very first sentence of this column is “consider this your spoiler alert warning.” So, if you want to enjoy the film on your own, spoiler free, stop reading now or maybe just skip down to the bottom.
So, yeah, that “happy” Disney movie is pretty much bullshit, people. I. Was. A. Mess. I found myself yelling at the movie way too frequently. I had to pause it three times to take collective breaths… and pour more wine. Only about a half-hour into the movie, I had gone through an impressive collection of tissues. I didn’t think that I was wearing eye makeup that day, yet I had black streaks down my face and I let out some unnatural noises as I tried to pull myself together throughout the whole fucking movie. (Side note: how does one “cry pretty?” Can I learn to cry pretty, instead of being a swollen eye, snot-monster when I sob? I digress.) This movie put me on an emotional rollercoaster, one for which I did not buy a ticket. I laughed, I sobbed, I yelled at the TV, and then I cried some more. I was not emotionally prepared for this movie, and I feel that it’s my duty – even my purpose – to give a slight heads up to you.
In his first life, the dog is born as a stray and only gets a few weeks in of sniffing butts and eating trash before he’s caught by a 50s era dogcatcher, and then he’s immediately euthanized. Yeah, I know, my reaction was “I beg your fucking pardon, what?” as well. Right then and there I almost stopped the movie, but I suddenly remembered the happy little boy from the trailer and the promise of reincarnation and a happily ever after, so I pressed on, looking forward to the adorable cherub. But not before being scooped up by shady looking early 1960 looking-ish garbage men, who leave the (new) puppy in a hot truck with the windows rolled up. Luckily, the little kid and his mom come along, and… Oh, shit, I sound like one of my students, giving the whole thing away. Really, what you need to know is that the dog has decided his entire purpose in all of his lives is to help his owners, but especially to make his original boy, Ethan, happy.
I know, right? I almost choked up writing that, so imagine watching the whole ordeal play out. The movie went on and on, pulling me up and down and up and down all over again. About forty minutes into the movie, deep into my first wine refill, I grabbed my own dog’s fat ass and squeezed him close. This movie turned me into an absolute wreck, and my own pup certainly qualified as an emotional support animal that night. I didn’t let him go far until long after the credits and the tears rolled down my cheeks. What the shit, Disney? You call this a family film? Every time I became invested and involved and dare I say, attached, to the dog in the movie, *something not so good happened*.
As I continued to sob long into the evening to my dog that he’s the best boy, that’s when it hit me. This movie pretty summed up the experience of owning a dog, or I guess any pet for that matter: They become part of our family and lives. Dogs really do just want to make us happy – there’s nothing like the wagging tail and wiggling butt of a dog when you finally get home. They make you laugh, they make you cry, but most of all they just make your life better. Our dogs are only here for a short while, yet their paws make some of the deepest prints in our lives and hearts.
Hug your dog(s) close… And if you watch the movie, pack plenty of tissues. Don’t say I didn’t warn you..