Tag Archives: Dogs

The 5 Movies All Animal Lovers Should Watch…According to Me.

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I am a movie addict. I live for the smell of freshly popped corn and the anxiety of choosing the right seat in the theater. I prefer comedies and independent films, but tearjerkers can also be good for the soul sometimes. And while Academy-Award winning dramas and a fair share of Lifetime flicks can evoke a tear or two, I’m also a sucker for any story that involves a struggling animal. I’ve compiled a list of five films I consider great animal movies. There are many more, I just don’t have enough tissues.

1. Benji the Hunted (1987)

Why not the original Benji, instead? Well, because I’ve actually never seen that one. But I grew up watching Benji the Hunted on VHS. The film was one of the last ones starring the lovable, do-gooder pooch. Benji gets lost in the Oregon forest after a boat accident and goes through a series of trials and tribulations trying to rescue a pack of small cubs and get them back to their momma cougar. The film has hardly any dialogue, as it’s tough to train baby cougars, deer, wolves and raccoons to speak. But the musical score and expressions on Benji’s face are more than enough entertainment. It’s a feel-good movie about a dog trying to survive in the wilderness…something I’m sure we can all relate to.

2.  Free Willy (1993)

Who doesn’t think of the hit Michael Jackson song when picturing this orca whale jumping over a tween? I know I do. Free Willy is the story of a young boy who befriends an injured whale that has been captured by a group of whalers. Willy (the orca) is sent to an amusement park in hopes that he’ll be the next big moneymaker. The story continues with a series of misfortunate events and concludes when Willy is finally set free. (get it, now?) It’s assumed that man’s best friend is a dog but this classic film proves that man’s best friend can also be the largest oceanic dolphin in the world.

3. Balto (995)

I could watch this movie every day. Yes, it’s a cartoon film, but it’s also based on a true story so I’d say it cancels out. Balto was a dog that saved children from the diphtheria epidemic in the 1925 serum run to Nome in Alaska. When all other sled dogs failed, Balto rose to the challenge and rushed to get through the brutal winter storms and deliver medication to the town. We can’t necessarily say it’s all true—unless the real Balto was also best friends with two polar bears and a Russian goose. Balto promises his platonic love, Jenna, to bring back the medication that will save her owner, a young girl. This film brings a small piece of history to light in the sweetest way possible.

4. Fly Away Home (1996)

If you can teach a child to ride a bike, you can teach a flock of geese to fly, right? Well, Anna Paquin did in the 1996 hit, Fly Away Home. When Amy (Paquin) moves to Ontario with her estranged father after the death of her mother, she comes across a brood of baby geese that have also been left without a mother. She assumes the role as their caretaker but quickly realizes the geese must learn how to migrate south for the Winter in order to survive. Throughout the film, Paquin and her father struggle to get to know one another but work hard to find a solution for the birds. The film is original in that it shows that any animal can relate to a person and people can respond right back.

5. Marley & Me (2008)

It’s cliché and you love it. Marley and Me, based on the memoir by John Grogan, tells the story of a family and their dog that was there through it all. The blonde overload somehow works on-screen—Owen Wilson, Jennifer Aniston and the golden lab that ties them together deliver a great film. Life can take unexpected turns at any point in time but your pets will always be there as long as you allow them to be. A pet knows you better than anyone—they see what no one else does and sense when you’re happy or sad. Marley’s death is inevitable and obvious, but I still cry every time he takes his last breath. When an animal touches your life the way Marley did, losing him is losing family. It’s a beautiful story and the film also set the record for the best Christmas Day box-office opener ever, so they must have done something right? (Fun Fact: 22 different Labradors played the part of Marley in the film.)

Lions and Tigers and Bears…are Hurricane Victims, too.

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The major damage left behind by Hurricane Irene last week has the East Coast in frenzy. Many residents are just now getting water and electricity back in their homes and for those who have lost loved ones, recovering will take more than a reinstallation of a utility.

Irene wasn’t polite to any animals in its path either. Rescue teams such as the International Fund for Animal Welfare and The Humane Society have had their hands tied since the storm hit the Atlantic Coast. Domestic pets were left homeless, large amounts of farm animals are in need of medical attention and even the rodents under New York City have been threatened. (Click here for photos of animals during Irene, compliments of LIFE.com)

Animals tend to get the short end of the stick in the aftermath of natural and human disasters. Forest fires across the country have burnt through acres of land, leaving animals homeless and left with limited resources. It was estimated that 8,000 animals were rescued after Hurricane Katrina in 2005. The 2010 oil spill in the Gulf Coast also threatened the lives and mere existence of hundreds of species—both on land and in the water.

 

It’s unfortunate that the catastrophic oil spill did not receive the necessary attention for the right reasons. After mourning the loss of the 11 people who lost their lives in the rig explosion, politicians focused most of their time and energy on the financial aspects and not necessarily the natural damages. Thousands of fish were exposed and killed and hundreds of birds were caught drenched in oil. Volunteers worked quickly to clean the birds and rescue them before the oil affected them but for many, it was too late.

The point of all this oil-spill rambling is that a natural disaster isn’t just tragic to people, but to animals. The oil spill may not have been a cause for evacuation, or really a safety concern at all for most people, but it was still a disaster that took its toll on many lives. It’s important to realize that animals are vital for human survival and they should be valued for that.

Just remember, Dorothy didn’t leave Toto behind when the Twister hit Kansas—and neither should you.

A Brief Intro ‘duck’ tion

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I cried the first time I saw Airbud. Yes, Airbud—the movie about the dog that plays basketball. It was on this day that I realized how sensitive I was not only to K9’s, but all animals. My name is Jessica Peraza and I am an animal lover. Forgive me if I pet your puppy before acknowledging your child.

I grew up in Nogales, Arizona—the town borders Mexico so to say there is a Hispanic influence in my life is an understatement. My mom and dad are the mostly-proud parents of four children. I’m the second and my personal favorite is number four. My little brother is the funniest person I know.

My dogs have me wrapped around their little paws. Both of them live a life of luxury with my mother catering to their every need. The trade-off is all the laughs we get from them in return. Last December my sister gave me a beta fish for Christmas. I loved that fish like no other. He would travel with me on weekends and keep me company when I was home. Unfortunately, the fish-tank lifestyle got to be too much for him and he jumped. I found him on my kitchen counter. I’m still traumatized by that.

I am pursuing a career in public relations and currently attending Arizona State University at the Walter Cronkite School of Journalism and Mass Communication. The fact that I chose ASU over the University of Arizona was shocking to my family of die-hard wildcats—but they’ve learned to love the Sun Devils…or maybe they just fear the fork.

I have decided to dedicate my blog to raising awareness on animal cruelty throughout the world. Last year, I watched a documentary that really struck me: The Cove  exposed the awful truth of the abuse and killing of dolphins. The film made me realize just how terrible the mistreatment of animals is and how unaware most people are of what’s going on. I hope to inspire action through my writing and just maybe, save an animal life here and there.

For the record, I still cry every time I watch Airbud. Never give a golden retriever pudding and ditch him on an island.