We are surrounded by our fellow creatures and often our lives are enriched by their presence, whether it be sharing our homes with them or simply being blessed to see them in passing.
This week you are asked to share books (fiction or nonfiction) and/or movies which center around an animal or animals.
- Which are your favorites?
- Which touched your heart the most?
- Which have found their way onto your wish lists or TBR stacks?
- Is there a childhood favorite?
- Have you ever named a pet after an animal from a book or movie?
As an adjunct to this post, consider sharing photos of animals (domestic or wild) which have inspired or thrilled you, or graced your life with their presence.
I’ve had pets for most of my life. As a young child, I was scared of dogs; I was a particularly small child, and most dogs were just so big, or noisy, or sometimes both – and since my family had cats, dogs seemed especially daunting. But perhaps as an outgrowth of the fact that I never seemed to like guys who liked cats, I tried warming up to dogs as I got older, and now I don’t hesitate to call myself a “dog person.” Cats fall way behind dogs on my preferences list these days.
in any case, though, I usually prefer being around animals in real life to reading stories about them, and that’s become even more pronounced in adulthood. I’ve found that books about animals all too frequently get sentimental, and I don’t particularly enjoy sappiness or emotional manipulation. There are exceptions, of course, but animals haven’t really played a big role in my reading.
Unlike many I’ve known, I was never a girl who was into horses – scared of them for similar reasons to dogs – but I read Black Beauty several times during childhood. As an adult, however, I find that I prefer reading about real-life animals – and real-life humans’ relationships with them – over fictional ones. While I’m still not into horses, and I’m definitely not a fan of racing them, one of the most riveting books I’ve read in the last decade was Seabiscuit: An American Legend, by Laura Hillenbrand. That horse was far from a perfect specimen, and yet he dominated his game and his story, although he was never anthropomorphized or sentimentalized in the telling.
My fear of sentimentality and sappiness made me shy away from reading the hugely popular Marley & Me: Life and Love With the World’s Worst Dog, by John Grogan, despite rave personal recommendations about the book from a couple of unsentimental fellow dog fans (my stepdaughter and her mom), as well as from someone who has more patience with sentiment and far less patience with dogs than I do (my sister). I still haven’t read it – but I did buy a copy of it after seeing the movie at Christmastime, and…well, I loved it. One of the reasons I did is that, like Seabiscuit, Marley was never anthropomorphized – he was always unquestionably and genuinely a DOG. The movie’s authentic portrayal of dog ownership was praised by Entertainment Weekly and on NPR.com, and it certainly rang true to this dog owner.
For twenty years, I’ve had a name picked out that I still want to use for a pet, and I found it in a movie:
Dr. Jones senior: But that’s your name. Henry Jones, Junior.
Dr. Jones junior: I like Indiana.
Dr. Jones senior: We named the dog Indiana.
– from Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade
My ex-husband (who eventually decided that the critters were tolerable after all) named his cat Indiana – and he knew I was saving it for a dog! I’m more likely to name a pet after a human character from a book or movie, really, as opposed to an animal; I guess if I do ever get to use Indiana, it will count for both.
I didn’t get to name this dog; she was already used to “Gypsy” when I adopted her ten and a half years ago.