If you’ve got grandchildren descending on you in the near future, you’ve probably got a few activities and days out tucked up your sleeve – but what if, after all the dog walks and the trips to the park have made them a bit too tired to give cookie decorating or papier-mâché a go? (Or, equally possible, what if you’re a bit too wiped out to face cleaning up the inevitable papier-mâché mess?). Tempers might be getting fractious, and the poor dog has taken to hiding under your bed to avoid their well-meaning attention.
What you need at this point is a distraction, which is where having a small stash of child-friendly DVDs can save the day – here’s our favourite films featuring man’s favourite four-footed companion. And don’t worry, we guarantee that the dog does not die in any of these films, so if you have traumatic memories of Ole Yeller, you needn’t be on the edge of your seat!
Based on the incredible, real-life story of America’s most decorated dog, Sgt Stubby started life as a stray on the streets before being rescued by a young doughboy on the eve of America’s entry into World War I. This stubby-tailed pup soon finds himself in the trenches of France, embarking on a historic adventure by his beloved soldier’s side. A genuine, four-legged American hero and the first canine promoted to the rank of Sergeant in U.S. Army history, Sgt Stubby shows the world the true meaning of dedication, loyalty and bravery in this thrilling adventure.
Disney’s offering features John Travolta as the title character, a white dog named Bolt who is an action star in a successful children’s television series. He adores his owner, voiced by Miley Cyrus, but he can’t have a proper family life with her because Bolt isn’t an actor – he truly believes that he is a superdog and gives such a believable performance that the studio executives don’t want him to cotton on. Cue an accidental escape, a cross country adventure featuring a street-smart cat and a portly, over enthusiastic hamster, and a heart-warming reunion at the end.
Homeward Bound: The Incredible Journey
Based on Disney's classic 1963 film The Incredible Journey, the live action Homeward Bound features the voices of Michael J Fox, Sally Field and Don Ameche as two dogs and a cat who believe themselves lost when left with a dogsitter, and make their way across the country to be reunited with their owners. A charming tale that features mild peril at times, the three animals are brought home by the older dog’s loving guidance and belief that family is the most important thing. A sequel titled Homeward Bound II: Lost in San Francisco followed in 1996.
The huge, drooly St Bernard first wandered on to our screens in 1993, but the franchise has had sequels out as recently as 2014 – a testament to his enduring appeal. In the original, Beethoven wriggles his way into a family and ends up capturing their hearts as he solves all their issues in his own inimitable way. A somewhat bizarre part of the plot involves a shady vet who dognaps Beethoven in order to use him for an ammunition test, so this may potentially be one you keep for older children in case it upsets littlies.