The Secret Life of Pets, currently playing in theaters, takes as its conceit the answer to the eternal question, what does your cat/dog/iguana do all day when you’re at work? Wiener-Dog coming out shortly chronicles a dachshund’s adventures among the mysterious homo-sapiens it cohabits with. These are just the latest in a series of cinematic efforts to get inside the minds of four legged friends.
Lady and the Tramp (1955) This beloved animated classic romance where an uptown girl meets a streetwise downtown guy has one of the most iconic scenes in movies where eating spaghetti becomes an accidental kiss for the leads. The fact that the romantic leads in question are a cocker spaniel and an alley mutt in no way diminishes the beauty of the moment or the sweetness of their star crossed love. Unfortunately, it must be said that the movie has some unfortunate stereotyping in its depiction of the infamous Siamese Cats; many found it offensive to Asians, and others found it unfair (though not unnecessarily untrue) in its depiction of cats.
One Hundred and One Dalmations (1961) This classic animated adventure tale (based on the 1956 novel by Dodie Smith) of how two brave Dalmation parents Pongo and Perdita use the canine gossip line to save their puppies from Cruella DeVille (one of the most memorable and infamous villains ever depicted on screen), was an immediate box office sensation that made over 200 million against its four million dollar budget.
The Fox and the Hound (1981) This beloved buddy drama by Disney was inspired by the novel of the same name by Daniel Mannix. Cooper a young hound dog puppy befriends Tod and orphaned red fox adopted by the family next door. They vow to be best friends forever, but this is soon put to the test by their warring instincts and the social pressures that demand they be enemies.
Homeward Bound: The Incredible Journey (1993) This remake of the 1963 film The Incredible Journey (which was itself based on a novel) added dialogue and access to the thoughts of its main animal protagonists. American bulldog Chance (Michael J. Fox), golden Retriever Shadow (Don Ameche) and Himalayan Cat Sassy (Sally Field) are left at a ranch. Fearing their owners have abandoned them they make a 250 mile long journey to San Francisco heading through the Sierra Nevada mountains. Needless to say many perils and adventures await them as their frantic owners are searching for them as well.
Cats & Dogs (2001) This family friendly action comedy imagines a top secret high tech Cold War taking place between Cats and Dogs which the silly humans are utterly unaware of. Tobey Maguire voices Lou the beagle and main protagonist, Alec Baldwin as his mentor figure the older dog Butch, and Sean Hayes is delightful as the villainous Persian Mr. Tinkles. Alas, though, this is another Disney movie that takes an extremely biased viewpoint toward felines and draws on the most vicious of anti-cat stereotypes.
Winnefred Ann Frolik is writing a book about her experiences as a dog walker.
Top photo: Bigstock