A Grumpy Dogcatcher
JoAnna Bennett

JoAnna Bennett, O’Brien Communications Group

September 8, 2022

My kids are on a Buddies kick. And so, this weekend, we watched Budderball, Rosebud, B-Dawg, Mudbud, Buddha, and Puppy Paws in Santa Buddies. It was a tragic tale of a potential melting magical Christmas icicle. The icicle was melting because the world was beginning to forget the true meaning of Christmas. Who better than six talking puppies to save the day?

A Stretch

My children and I agreed the storyline was a little far fetched. They’re beginning to understand movies are not real, and this was a good one to solidify those thoughts. But there was one character who stood out and became the topic of several following conversations: the dogcatcher, Stan Cruge. Stan was played by Christopher Lloyd, who did a great job with the character. My kids have never seen Back to the Future, so they didn’t appreciate the character as much as I did. But they were engrossed with Stan Cruge, nonetheless. Stan was a grumpy dog catcher. He would chase the Buddies and other dogs in the neighborhood and lock them in his dingy animal shelter. At one point in the movie, a gentleman comes to adopt a dog for his child for a Christmas present. Stan tells him he must pay $300, but he can pick whichever one he wanted. The man says he only has $50, but he promises to give the dog a good home. Stan won’t budge and tells the man to leave. My kids were so upset with this interaction. Why would Stan deny a puppy a good home? The boy needed a dog. And Stan had plenty locked away in those cages. They couldn’t fathom the transaction. We were grateful that, by the end of the movie, the Christmas spirit begins to return, the magical Christmas icicle restores, and Stan hand-delivers a sweet pooch named Tiny to the front door of the good home. But Stan really had my children thinking. Days later, they wondered aloud why Stan was so mean at first and what might have changed his mind. And why did that family invite Stan in for a Christmas dinner after he’d been so mean to them?

A Lesson in Grumpy Dogcatchers

Stan wasn’t likely born mean and grumpy. Stan likely had some trauma growing up and instead of facing his problems head on, he projected them onto the dogs he would catch. He might have also gotten caught up in the power and control that dog catching afforded him. But he was missing out on that human connection. Once he opened his heart and took some accountability for what he’d done, (with the help of the Buddies, of course) he was able to try and live a new life. As actress Viola Davis says in her memoir, Finding Me, “My biggest discovery was that you can literally re-create your life. You can redefine it. You don’t have to live in the past. I found that not only did I have fight in me, I had love.” If Stran Cruge can do it, so can you.