Autumn in the Pacific Northwest can be dark and dreary, but these pet-approved movies are sure to brighten your day — and your mood!

by Diana Mivelli

In the Pacific Northwest, it’s common to bemoan the short, rainy days that begin in October and drag through March…and April…and May. The gray consumes us but with perspective, we might see it as a gift, because it’s a chance to settle in, cozy up with our animals and favorite humans, and watch programming even pets will enjoy. The following movies are all furry-friend-approved.

Our mini-movie marathon kicks off with an American classic from 1974, Benji. If you grew up in the 70s, seeing Benji at the theater was a rite of passage. Yes, the human acting is stilted and Benji’s life as a stray is glorified, but the dog acting is outstanding. It’s rumored that the movie was a guilty pleasure of director Alfred Hitchcock. It’s 86 minutes and G-rated, but includes a kidnapping and an upsetting scene (aggression against a dog). Rating: 3.5 out of 5 paw prints


Next up, A Street Cat Named Bob, is a 2016 release based on the true story of busker James Bowen on the streets of London. He’s struggling to kick an addiction, find permanent housing, and get his life on track when a gorgeous stray cat Bob enters and alters his life forever. At times humorous, at times dramatic, this touching story is offers catchy music and impressive cinematography. Bob is 103 minutes and unrated but appropriate for teenagers and older. Rating: 5 out of 5 paw prints

If you like documentaries, consider the 2013 Canadian offering A Dog’s Life that explores dog behavior. In its 44-minute runtime, you meet the researchers and see the dogs in action and oft surprising results on tasks like spatial recognition and interval timing. The movie poses compelling questions about our relationship with dogs and starts off strong before wandering into dull spots. Rating: 2.5 out of 5 paw prints

In Oddball (2015), you get a fun and uplifting true story that touches upon conservation and family issues without being a downer. Maremma dog Oddball is barred from Warrnambool (a town in Southern Australia). He’s not dangerous but has managed to create chaos in the past that’s led to property damage (in reality, it’s more to do with the carefree attitude of his delightful owner Swampy). When Swampy and his young granddaughter Olivia figure out that Oddball could save the fairy penguin sanctuary from being decimated by invasive foxes, Swampy decides to defy the town and its rules to save the penguins. Oddball is rated PG but a great film for all ages and runs 95 minutes. Rating: 5 out of 5 paw prints

We round out our mini festival with the uplifting, witty, and sometimes tear-jerky Bolt about a dog (voiced by John Travolta) that’s lived his life as a TV super-hero, gets lost, and has to find his way home to his beloved “person” Penny (voiced by Miley Cyrus). Along the way he gets help from jaded stray cat, Mittens, and lively hamster, Rhino. The animation is stunning and the clever story is engaging and manages to show us teamwork as well as comment on the very real issue of pet abandonment all while keeping us engaged in the plot. Rating: 5 out of 5 paw prints