It’s National Pet Month in the UK, and it’s got me thinking about Monty, ginger tom cat extraordinaire and my most constant companion and source of comfort from age 7 to 24. It’s hard to believe he has been gone for almost a year and a half. This weekend I headed home to New Zealand for a visit (still can’t quite believe I’m here, squeee!) and I keep absent-mindedly thinking that Monty, who passed away the very week I moved to the U.K., will walk into the family lounge before remembering that actually, no he won’t. Boo.
Last week, a work friend had to suddenly go home when she learnt that her ten year old cat had unexpectedly passed away; she was absolutely distraught and I completely understood. A little creature can leave a very big hole in our lives, and are arguably more constant than all the people in our lives. For the entirety of the pet-owner relationship you never squabble; loyalty is something that is certain, never questioned; you never give them the silent treatment or have different points of view (expect maybe when they think they have done a Good Deed bringing that decapitated rat inside... um no). They are always loving, always appreciative and always there, until suddenly they’re not.
In ode to my dear departed Mont (A.K.A Monty-zoomer, The Montetron, Orange Animal, Fried Chicken Cat, Da Booj), in ode to my colleague’s dear departed feline friend Cocoa, and indeed in ode to all the pets around the world, past and present, that give such companionship, I am celebrating some of the best pets to grace our screens, in whom I am able to still find a lot of joy!
Cat, Breakfast at Tiffany’s
My all-time favourite screen pet, the “poor slob without a name” companion to Holly Golightly in this 1961 classic is a perfect screen portrayal of the single-lady-and-cat cliché, and this cat is as much a character in the film as any of his human counterparts. From partaking in festivities at Holly’s raging house party, to being the central focus of the films dramatic and heart-warming final scene, never has a cat played such an important (or adorable) part in a film.
Golden Retrievers are pretty much the friendliest, most loving and loyal dogs of all time, to the point it is impossible for even the grumpiest of old men not to love them, try as he might. Enter Doug from Pixar’s modern classic, Up. Just when you thought these dogs couldn’t get any better, Doug comes complete with a collar which allows his thoughts to be projected as a voice. And what are his thoughts exactly? “My name is Doug. I have just met you, and I love you.” Too cute.
Brego, Lord of the Rings
The bond between a man and his horse is demonstrated in the most touching of ways by Lord of the Rings’ Aragorn (A.K.A. mega babe) and Brego; interestingly not part of Tolkien’s books and created entirely for the films. Their very first meeting is all about compassion and support, as Aragorn meets a war-torn horse who he decides to set free. Brego then magically appears to nobly come to Aragorn’s aide as he lies almost dying after taking a fall from a cliff during battle – yikes. The onscreen bond between the two was made all the sweeter when I learned off the off-screen bond that matched it – actor Viggo Mortensen became so attached to the horse that he purchased and kept him once filming was complete. In the DVD extras (yes, I’m that geek) Viggo talks about their relationship and how incredibly in sync the horse always was with him. Fun fact: the horse was so energised by Viggo's delivery of his speech in the final battle scene that his rearing at the end of it was not trained or expected; it took the actor completely by surprise but looks f**king fantastic in the final cut!
Scabbers, Harry Potter
The little rodent that turns out to in fact be a person in disguise, Scabbers/Peter Pettigrew is almost more of a rat in his human form, what with all that bringing back You-Know-Who from the dead business. As Hermione would say, “What. An. Idiot.” Definitely not one of my favourite characters, Scabbers makes it onto my list purely for the genius unexpectedness of the storyline – something in which J.K. Rowling excels. You could argue a pet has never played a bigger role in the plot of a story quite like Scabbers did in the Harry Potter series.
According to my super cool boyfriend, “Pikachu isn’t a pet. Gosh Rachel.” What is he then? He’s a Pokemon! Just so as you know that is way better than an ordinary pet, way cooler. Jesse’s thoughts aside, Pikachu absolutely makes my list because this is one of the first onscreen relationships between a human and non human that I watched, loved and aspired to. They don’t come much more loyal than this, and in my ten0year-old opinion, there was no greater companion than Pikachu!
Honourable Mention – Squishy, Finding Nemo
It’s pretty hard to choose a favourite moment from this 2003 Pixar gem, but the Squishy moment has to be right up there. Dory's instant and unwavering desire to make a cute small animal her personal pet on first sight is something I can relate to all too well, and I love her for it. I can only hope he will make a reappearance in the upcoming, long-awaited sequel, Finding Dory.