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"Lady & the Tramp": A dog lover on the quintessential dog lovers’ movie

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Reel Mama: "Lady & the Tramp": A dog lover on the quintessential dog lovers’ movie

Friday, February 17, 2012

"Lady & the Tramp": A dog lover on the quintessential dog lovers’ movie

Lady from Lady and the Tramp

Kika, the doggie love of my life

The fact that I did a portrait session of my dog Kika will give you some idea of how I feel about her.  She has been my sidekick for almost 13 years, and she was my first “baby.”  She was the Princess (I have always been queen of our kingdom), but since my husband and I had a baby, I’m pretty sure she’s feeling like a forgotten chamber maid.  
The prim cocker spaniel Lady from Lady and the Tramp can totally relate. “I don’t imagine anything could take her place in our hearts,” says Darling, Lady’s devoted owner at the film’s beginning.  But when Darling and her husband Jim Dear have a baby, it turns Lady’s comfy world upside down, and I think most dogs feel that way.  

Our dog Kika's world was turned upside down when we had a baby

More than two years have passed, and our dog Kika’s still trying to make sense of this whole baby thing.  Kika probably needs a few sessions on a miniature couch with a doggie psychiatrist, though I hate to admit that potty training my daughter is higher on my priority list.  (In fact, Kika’s probably watching this whole long, drawn-out potty training experience and asking herself, “What gives?”  I potty trained Kika to use a kitty litter box in an hour when she was a puppy.) 
Like Kika, Lady experiences what, seen through canine eyes, is a kind of fall from grace.  First Lady loses her cozy spot on the bed with the owners.  She’s forced to take up residence in the back yard and worse when Aunt Sarah moves in to take care of the baby while Jim Dear and Darling are away. Though Kika still has a basket at the foot of our bed, and only needs to go outside to bark at leaves, the sense of heartbreak at no longer being the favorite is palpable.
Lady is so hurt in fact that she considers leaving her family.  Enter Tramp, a roving rascal without a home, and that’s the way he likes it. He wants to take Lady away from all this: “There's a great big hunk of world out there with no fence around it, where two dogs can find adventure,” he tells her.  And indeed she does find adventure.  It's worth seeing the movie just for the adorable scene in the alley behind the Italian bistro, when Lady and the Tramp eat the same strand of spaghetti and their noses meet, then Tramp pushes a meatball closer to Lady with his nose.  It’s not just a great scene; it’s part of film history.   

The famous spaghetti scene from Lady and the Tramp

The movie tells the story beautifully of a world seen through a dog’s eyes.  The dogs’ movements are natural with hand-drawn animation, well before today’s motion capture technology used in character-generated animation.  The score perfectly complements the dogs’ movements.
Disney never shies away from tough subject matter when it comes to the world of the animals it portrays.  You’d have to be made of stone not to shed a tear at the “barkershop” quartet howling “There’s No Place Like Home” in the pound and the tears rolling down the noses of those poor homeless dogs.  There’s even an allusion to what happens to the dogs that don’t get adopted.  It makes a powerful statement for adopting shelter pets (visit the ASPCA website here for more information on pet adoption).
I don’t think I’d be giving too much away to say that in spite of this, there is a happy ending.  As for Kika, we always strive to give her a loving forever home, even if we are “only human,” as bemoaned by Lady’s two dearest friends, Jock the Scottish terrier and Trusty the bloodhound.  
Lady and the Tramp is a sweet and beautifully rendered tale about Lady’s struggle not only to win her owners’ affection, but to become a “lady” herself: a dog who is brave, self-sufficient, loved, and also capable of love.  She learns that home is where the heart is.  
So for all you dog lovers out there, Lady and the Tramp is the perfect choice for this weekend’s family movie night.  Snuggle up with your babies (kiddos and/or doggies) and enjoy a very sweet and special part of film history with the ones you love!
Reel Mama’s rating: Appropriate for four and up.  Several dog fight scenes might be too intense for the youngest viewers.
Special note: Lady and the Tramp was released on a Blu-ray Diamond Edition last week.  The images are sharp, and the colors are vibrant.  The new combo pack includes a Blu-ray disc, DVD and digital copy, as well as extensive bonus materials.  You won’t be disappointed!


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