An odd little movie, but with lots of dogs!
It’s directed by Mike White, which explains the uncomfortable/comic tone of the film. Molly Shannon is Peggy, an office worker who is friendly enough, but mostly keeps to herself. Her closest relationship is with Pencil, her beagle. When Pencil dies, she doesn’t know what to do with herself– she dates her neighbour (John C Reilly), who turns out to have been responsible for Pencil’s death, and Newt (Peter Sarsgaard), an asexual dog rescue worker who turns her onto veganism, which is at least some kind of constructive reaction. She also begins to read up on animal rights issues.
In her grief, she rescues more dogs than is legal, embezzles money from her job to send to animal rights groups, and starts to see her life in a very different way.
But the conclusion isn’t that Peggy is nuts. On the contrary. Instead, shows us how someone somes to accept herself and forms her beliefs, even if it’s something that not everyone believes in.
As a related aside, dogs really change people. At their best, they are accepting and loving. But when they are abused or neglected, their behaviour reflects their experience, even though they usually retain their natural impulse to be part of a social group. I think having dogs around is really a good way to learn compassion that way, and they allow us to open up to each other as well.
Walking Henry around the neighbourhood has really shown me a lot. People are more likely to say hi, or even stop for a chat. Kids run up to us. The other day, we walked by gloomy teenager, who brightened up when she say Henry. Henry makes goth girls smile! Dogs take us out of ourselves and make us realize that we are part of something much bigger. We can learn so much from them!