Homeward Bound: The Incredible Journey was a perfect family movie. It was funny. It was inspirational. It had talking pets! So when my parents let me watch it when I was 5, it seemed like a socially acceptable parenting decision. And it was. To this day, I love that movie. It’s one of my all-time favorites, and I’ll probably show it to my kids one day. However, that doesn’t mean I watch it all the time, mainly because I can’t so much as think about the scene where Shadow falls into that hole without crying. Let me take a moment and paint the picture for those of you who aren’t crying (misery loves company, right?):

House pets Shadow, Chance, and Sassy have survived bears, porcupines, and even a mountain lion. They have just escaped that horrible vet, and they’re finally, finally home-free. Shadow, the gang’s noble leader, is running across some railroad tracks when he goes to walk on a boarded-up patch of ground. Just as Shadow says the words “We’re nearly home,” the board snaps, and the sweet old guy falls through.

He yelps as he lands in a pit of mud a good 15 feet below ground. He tries and tries to climb out — he almost makes it! — before he slides back down. After minutes of struggling, Shadow gives up. In defeat, he rests his head on the ground and tells Chance and Sassy to go on without him. This is the end of the road for Shadow.

If you aren’t crying at this point, well, if I’m being honest, I’m probably crying enough for the both of us, but it wouldn’t kill you to shed at least one tear! Do it for Shadow, my favorite of the bunch. I’m not sure if it was Don Ameche’s voice (Did you know it was a different Shadow in the sequel?!) or Shadow’s wisdom, but I loved that dog. And based on my personal experiences, Chance really should’ve been my favorite. I grew up with a Boxer that reminded me a lot of Chance, and I also grew up with a bada– cat, so I connected with Sassy as well. But there was just something about Shadow. Maybe it was his age or the way he felt about his owner, Peter, but that dog got to me. He tugged at my heartstrings something fierce.

And to watch as the poor, helpless animal made it so close to home only to fall in a hole that he couldn’t get out of? That was the definition of traumatizing. It was the one obstacle the pets couldn’t overcome, and I was/am devastated. Chance tried to help but couldn’t. There was nothing they could do. Are you crying yet?!

Now, let me defend my earlier statement that I will show this to my kids: Ultimately, it’s a story of perseverance and triumph. Shadow makes it out of the hole, people! And he limps his way to Peter talking about how worried he was about his human.

Don’t tell me you don’t want your kid to watch this:

And now I’m a hysterical mess, but at least these are happy tears. (This would’ve ended very differently had I found a good clip of Shadow’s struggle.)

Do you agree with me on this one, PopWatchers? Is anyone not crying right now?

Homeward Bound: The Incredible Journey
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