Wayne Hinshaw: Finding life lessons in ‘The Secret Life of Pets’

Published 12:00 am Sunday, July 24, 2016

Recently I went with my grandchildren to see the box office movie hit, “The Secret Life of Pets.”  I certainly am not an expert movie critic, but the movie stirred some interesting thoughts for me in this era of black males being shot, policemen being shot, and in the heated rhetoric of the political conventions.

How can an animated comedy movie with beautiful color about “how pets spend their days” have any relevance to what is happening in the real world?

The movie setting is in New York City in the penthouses and down into the sewers of the city as the “good pet guys” search for their missing pet pals. The movie itself was a little long for my enjoyment as it turned into a long chase movie of bad animals chasing good animals.  I doubt that the movie has much heavyweight intellectual  content, but I did pick up on a couple of themes that I feel are important to children and adults.

The plot of the story is around a small terrier dog named Max. His life was pretty plush until his owner Katie brought home a big shaggy rescue sheepdog named Duke.

Here is one of my points. Max didn’t like sharing  the attention from his owner with Duke. Duke was a big bully. Duke took Max’s bed and blanket and then sat on him.

As is the case with bullies, the emotions grew worse along with their dislike for each other.  As the friction rose, both were captured by the dog catcher. Thus starts the long chase into the sewers of New York.

In the sewers, Max and Duke became partners and buddies fighting a common cause for their lives. Here is my second point. When we think that we just don’t like each other and can’t stand each other, when placed in the correct situations, we learn that we are not so different after all. Maybe we are alike with the same goals and dreams for our lives and families.

Gidget, a tiny Pomeranian dog, looks like a big ball of white fur. She has a great heart with a secret crush on Max. She is flirty with Max and as sexy as she can be in a children’s movie. She doesn’t appear to be overly smart. The movie misses the chance to develop this love affair and their friendship.

Realizing that Max and Duke are missing and in trouble, Gidget organizes the other pets for the search.

Here is my next point.

Gidget brings together a black, foot-long dachshund, a prissy white poodle, a big red bird (maybe a parrot), and  a small  green and yellow parakeet to search for Max and Duke. With this strange band of pets, they are able to overcome their differences in looks, colors and positions in the life of pets and become a unified group with a common cause to save their fellow pets.

There are times in our lives when we need to unite for the good of all. Just as the pets, we need to stop seeing our differences and start seeing our equal qualities that we all dream about.  If we look beyond our color, our religion, and our positions in life and become one body for the good of mankind, we can be successful.

With Max and Duke safe and best of friends, all the pets return to their respective apartments and wait for their owners to return home.   Love is everywhere in the secret lives of the pets. They were successful in defeating the  snakes, alligators and rough, cruel cats in the back allies and sewers of the world.

I don’t know if this is what the scriptwriters of the movie had in mind, but this is what I saw, if you get my point.