I am an over protective mom. I admit it. One of my babies just turned 6 years old. She received a present, a movie ticket. She has never seen a movie in the theaters before. She has been limited to a few movies, Whiney the Pooh and Angelina Ballerina. She watched Clifford for a time, but mimicked the behaviors in the show, so we stopped watching Clifford. She watches maybe 2-3 hours of T.V. a week. She actually watches it on a computer because we do not have a T.V. in our family room.
My husband and I normally screen shows before we let her watch them. When Bunny, my 6 year old, received the movie ticket, we looked online to see if there were any kid appropriate movies in theaters. A Dog’s Way Home looked as if it was a happy, heartwarming film. Here is the preview description, “As a puppy, Bella finds her way into the arms of Lucas, a young man who gives her a good home. When Bella becomes separated from Lucas, she soon finds herself on an epic 400-mile journey to reunite with her beloved owner. Along the way, the lost but spirited dog touches the lives of an orphaned mountain lion, a down-on-his-luck veteran and some friendly strangers who happen to cross her path.”
Sounds great right? We knew there might be some scary parts in the wilderness, with the mountain lion. We watched the previews and saw there was a scary part about coyotes. Since our dog was recently killed by coyotes, this gave me cause for some concern, but in the movie the dog does not die, and I thought it would be alright. Read on to see what actually happens in A Dog’s Way Home.
The movie starts out in a crawl space with a bunch of cats and kittens running around. And one mama dog and her puppies. Bella, the main character, is one of these puppies. Immediately animal control is crawling under the crawl space and capturing the kittens and puppies. First red flag. Mama cat saves Bella and pulls her to safety. Once animal control is gone, Mama cat, her kittens and Bella go back in the crawl space. It was heart warming that Mama cat nurses Bella with her kittens and keeps her alive. Lucas, Bella’s future owner, lives across the street from this crawl space, which is all that is left of a torn down house. Lucas is trying to lure the cats out to safety by feeding them daily. Bella feels a connection to him and runs out to him and becomes his dog. Lucas has to hide Bella because they are not allowed to have a dog in their rented house. This is concerning to me, as it is showing children it is okay to lie. Another red flag.
The owner of the torn down house is trying to tear down the rest of the house and build new houses. Lucas is in his way as Lucas keeps advocating for the cats that have not been saved yet. The property owner tells Lucas Bella is a pit bull, and in their county it is illegal to own a pit bull. Property owner tells Lucas if Lucas does not leave the property alone and allow them to tear down the house, he will go after Lucas and the dog. Lucas lives with his mom, a disabled veteran. Lucas works at the VA hospital and his mom seeks treatment there. One day Lucas has to take Bella to his work as his mom has therapy, Lucas has work and the landlord will be stopping by to fix a leaky sink. Lucas has to lie to the landlord again, (red flag) and sneak Bella into his work (another red flag). Lucas and his mom both say Lucas could lose his job for brining Bella into work. Once at work the other veterans help conceal Bella, and this becomes a daily thing, Bella going to work with Lucas, all of the veterans hiding Bella when the Doctor comes to check on them.
Lucas continues to push for the safety of the cats and the property owner becomes enraged. Property owner sends animal control to Lucas’ house. Animal control tells Lucas that is a pit bull and if it is seen off Lucas’ property, the dog will be taken to a shelter. Animal control stalks Lucas until they can catch Bella. Bella is taken to an animal shelter and Lucas is reunited with her. The shelter tells Lucas Bella has been classified as a pit bull by three animal control workers, and if Bella is picked up again she will be euthanized. Red Flag. Luckily this goes over my 6 year old’s head. This law only applies to the county the live in, if Lucas moves, Bella will be safe. Lucas’ girlfriend has an aunt and uncle who live in New Mexico that are willing to take Bella until Lucas can find a new house outside of the county limits.
Bella goes to the aunt and uncles house, then escapes. Bella is wearing a collar and name tag with Lucas’ phone number on it. She wanders in the wilderness then realizes she needs food. She seeks out the nearest town and finds a pack of dogs. She joins their pack as they search for food. At the end of the day each dog goes to their respective home and Bella is left on her own again. She wanders in the wilderness for 2 years. Along the way we see Bella passing by “Missing Dog” signs of her. The rest of the story is over the time span of 2 years. First, Bella is in the woods and hears a gunshot. She finds a dead mountain lion with two hunters who are talking about how much money they can make off the animal they just killed. Red flag! Bella sees a tiny kitten, who she thinks is now orphaned by these hunters. Bella remembers how she feels when her mom was taken away, so Bella takes care of tiny kitten. I think the killing of the mountain lion went over my 6 year old’s head as well. Sigh.
Bella and tiny kitten are now traveling together. Bella steals food from campers and fishermen to feed herself and tiny kitten. Tiny kitten is getting bigger. A pack of coyotes tries to hunt and kill tiny kitten and Bella, but they get scared off by a trio of campers. Bella still has her collar on with her name tag and phone number. The campers take Bella back to their camp, take her collar off and call the number which goes to voicemail. Tiny kitten shows up and scares off the campers. Bella grabs some food and runs away with Tiny kitten, leaving her collar in the camping area.
Time passes and tiny kitten gets bigger. She also gets better about finding food for her and Bella. One day in winter Bella hears a dog. She is so excited she runs to find the dog. Bella and the other dog are barking at each other when the dogs owner, who is on skis, starts yelling. There are two other men skiing as well. An avalanche occurs and Bella, the other dog and the lone skier are buried under snow. Bella and the other dog get out of the snow then start to dig for the buried skier. The other two skiers come to help, and call for help. The man is alive and taken away, the two skiers believe both dogs belong to this man and take the dogs to care for them while the man recovers. The one dog has a collar and name tag, Bella does not. The two skiers are men and turn out to be a couple. On their way back to the city one of the men tries to guess Bella’s name. He says her name and she barks. Everyone is excited they figured out Bella’s name. Once they make it home, the happy couple take pictures of the dogs, get Bella a collar and name tag, with their number on it and treat the dogs kindly. One day they receive a call that the injured skier is out of the hopsital. The couple takes the two dogs to the injured skiers house. The injured skier is not happy to see them. He yells at the dog, calls it dumb and tells them to take the dog away. Red Flag! He also tells the couple the second dog is not his. To do whatever they want with his dog, he does not want it anymore. The happy couple are sad for the dogs, then happy they finally get to keep them, like they wanted to all along. On the way back to the city the couple stops at a rest stop, where we see another “Missing Dog” sign, and let both dogs off the leash. Bella runs away to find Tiny cat, and the other dog stays with the happy couple.
Bella is wandering in the wilderness when she needs food. She goes into a town and a homeless man claims her as his. He takes her name tag off her, saying something about how the government is marking her and he used to be marked by the government. We then see Bella and this man begging for food and money, his sign says he is a veteran and needs money for dog food. He tells Bella she is good for business. Red Flag. He has Bella tied up on a rope and never lets her off it. They travel to the wilderness to his camp, where Bella starts to chew through her rope. He sees this and takes a chain link chain and attaches it to his waist and to Bella’s collar. Moments later he lays down and dies. RED FLAG!!!!!! This also went over my 6 year old’s head, that this man had just died. Now Bella is talking about how she is so hungry, and she can’t get away. How she needs water, she is so thirsty. Finally, FINALLY, one day a couple of boys on bikes find Bella, then find the dead man. They are scared and take off Bella’s collar. Bella runs into the wilderness to find Tiny Cat.
Bella is wandering in the wilderness again when suddenly the coyotes are hunting her. They circle her and start to attack her. This is the point where my daughter starts getting emotional. At some point in the movie, I believe when the coyotes first appeared on screen, she climbed into my husbands lap. Now she is in his lap hiding her face. She is crying just a bit, but we assure her Bella is going to be okay. Sure enough, Tiny cat, who is full grown, shows up and beats all the coyotes. Whew. My daughter is okay and so is Bella.
Bella is still on her journey to get back to Lucas. She finds the freeway, in her town, and now she must cross it. She ends up getting hit by a car (Red Flag), and is now walking on three legs with one leg held to her chest. She makes it back to the house she and Lucas lived in, but Lucas is no longer there. A lady opens the door and Bella runs in. The lady calls someone on the phone. Bella sees a cat, it is Mama cat! She is excited to see Mama cat. Just then the mean animal control person is at the house to take Bella away. Bella runs out a window and finds her way to Lucas’ work. Lucas and his mom are there. They are overjoyed. I am crying. Bella made it! Yay! Happy ending. NOT. They are about to take Bella to the vet, as she is bloody and limping, when animal control shows up with multiple police cruisers. The animal control person, who has been paid off by the property owner, and has a vendetta against Bella, tells Lucas he needs to hand over that dog or he will be arrested. There is a crowd of veterans around and none of them want Bella to be handed over, and killed. My daughter starts flipping out at this point. Hysterically crying. She does not want the police to take the dog away. All that Bella has gone through, and now this!
The police chief shows up wanting to know why half his police force is there trying to arrest a dog. The veterans are outraged. The police chief asks who is responsible for all the crimes and every person standing on Bella’s side raises their hand. The police chief says something along the lines of do I have to arrest everyone? They all say yes. The law is the law and in this county they have the right to take the dog and kill it. Then Lucas says, “WAIT!” this is not county property, this is government property, it is a VA hopsital. You do not have the right to arrest the dog. The police chief agrees and makes it known he is also a veteran. The animal control person says I will wait for you to put her in a car and drive, then I’ll pull you over and take the dog and arrest you. The police chief says no you wont, you are fired. He also tells the rest of the officers they are not to arrest the dog or the people over the dog. Bella gets the care she needs and goes to her new house OUTSIDE of the county limits. Happily ever after.
WORST MOVIE EVER. Not only does a person act negatively towards animals (property owner) and send police after someone for no reason, another person also behaves badly towards his dog (the skier), a man dies while Bella is chained to him (homeless man), Bella gets attacked by wolves, THEN the police threaten her safety, life and happiness! How is this a movie rated G? How is this family friendly? I have no qualms with the happy gay couple. They were by far the best part of this movie! I am saddened I took my sweet baby to see this movie, that it was the first movie she has seen, that it was portrayed as a dogs journey home and nothing was said about the horrible things that happen on the journey. So many terrible things could have been taken out and this would have been a great movie. I went into this movie thinking it might be one we could buy and enjoy as a family over and over again. My 6 year old’s response to this movie? “I don’t want to see a movie again. Maybe in a couple of years. You should have watched this movie first before I saw it.” Yes sweet baby of mine, I should have watched this movie first. I failed her as a parent. #momfail
DO NOT TAKE YOUR CHILDREN TO SEE A DOG’S WAY HOME! I beg of you! Save your money and save their innocence.