Sunday, August 26, 2018

Tip#1108: Top 4 Movies About Dogs & Pet Therapy

Whenever I find myself back in the dark hole of depression or feeling stuck with a challenge at work or in life I always do my best to remember my many tools and methods for coping. These include what CBT (cognitive behavioural therapy) refers to as “pleasurable activities” such as movies, cooking, walking and other feel-good activities that always provide relief from the ruminating of negative thoughts and emotions. Another is being around friends that have dogs and cats. This is when I feel the uplifting benefits from pet therapy without realizing that I’m doing therapy!

Sherlock & Sydney

I’ve known my friend’s Jack Russell, Sherlock, since he was an adorable puppy. He’s been there for me during many depressed times even years before I was diagnosed with clinical depression at Toronto’s CAMH. I’ll always remember this one winter when I was feeling extremely hopeless and was sitting on my friend’s living room couch when Sherlock hopped up and put his head on my lap. I almost cried. I intuitively felt he knew I was in pain and came to comfort me. I was both amazed and grateful for Sherlock’s unconditional love and attention. He also has a brother, a chubby tabby named Sydney, who likes to join us when we go for walks in the beautiful Etobicoke lakeshore area.


There was a wonderful period of several summer weekends in 2018 when I enjoyed the benefits of pet therapy. During a July heat wave on a hike with a friend in Scarborough’s Ellesmere Ravine I was surprised and delighted that his black cat Scamp came to join us! This wooded area was actually his backyard so maybe he was happily giving us a tour! Just seeing him joyfully roll around in the dirt and follow us along steep edges and thick forests made me laugh and put a big smile on my face!

Uma & Lucy

I believe my friends know that being with their pets helped my mental health. One time I visited a friend pet-sitting in the City of Vaughan and she took me and her dogs, Uma and Lucy (both Russian mongrels), to the Thornhill Woodlots. The green of the forest felt so rejuvenating as was being with these awesome, well behaved dogs! We even enjoyed watching one of my favourite films as an inspirational tool Jumanji: Welcome to the Jungle later in the day. But they were watching us more than the movie!


The week right after I was invited to spend a sunny morning with another friend and his dog Luke in High Park. My friend had been reading my movie tips and mental health posts on social media so he knew about my clinical depression. So he offered this uplifting outdoor adventure with Luke (Labrador Retriever and Husky mix) and it was such a memorable experience! Luke took us on some of his favourite trails on a hot summer day where the forests were more lush than I’d seen before. He was also so well behaved and waited for us whenever we stopped to enjoy the scenery. Once again I felt re-energized and re-vitalized being in nature and being with a friend and their pet.

These experiences proved to me how powerfully effective pet therapy can be. On my article on Top 10 Movies for Managing Depression I shared a link to depression author Therese J. Borchard’s excellent article on how watching the right movie has an antidepressant effect (read here). And here is another article of hers on the 6 benefits of pet therapy. See article: 6 Ways Pets Relieve Depression 

1. Pets offer a soothing presence
2. Pets offer unconditional love and acceptance
3. Pets alter our behavior
4. Pets distract
5. Pets promote touch
6. Pets make us responsible

It is also National Dog Day, August 26th when I posted this so here are my top 4 movies that celebrate dogs. These are my favourites that are so uplifting, heartwarming and will also give you a good cry!

Because of Winn-Dixie (2005)

This highly entertaining family film is about a lonely 10 year old named Opal (AnnaSophia Robb) who finds a rambunctious dog she names Winn-Dixie (a Picardy Shepherd, a rare breed from France). He then leads her through her small town to make new friends young and old. I absolutely loved this film and it is brimming with important life lessons, memorable scenes and hilarious moments with colourful characters! It explores the vital need for community and friendship by sharing each other’s joy, sadness and loneliness.
See: movie trailer
Watch it now: Amazon Prime 

A Dog’s Purpose (2017)

This entertaining comedy drama is about Bailey (voiced by Josh Gad) a dog whose life is shown from his point of view from birth to death and reincarnated through 5 different dog breeds and genders. There are lots of life lessons throughout this unique story about living in the moment, learning to let go and finding your purpose. So many funny and touching scenes in this film on how dogs can rescue us any day and every day!
See: movie trailer
Watch it now: Amazon Prime

Hachi: A Dog's Tale (2009)

This touching drama is based on a true story about an Atika puppy shipped to the US from Japan and his loyalty and devotion to a professor named Parker (Richard Gere). This is such a powerful story about eternal loyalty, dedication and love of a dog for its master. There is this wonderful, soothing tone to this film and every scene between Hachi and Parker are so heartwarming!
See: movie trailer
Watch it now: Amazon Prime

Marley & Me (2008)

This comedy drama is based on the true story of John and Jenny Grogan (Owen Wilson and Jennifer Aniston) and their three kids living with a hyper active, disobedient Labrador retriever named Marley. This entertaining film has a wonderful message of a loving, forgiving family living with a difficult dog. And it will remind you to recognize the silver lining within problems the way John found inspiration for his newspaper column from the wild antics of Marley!
See: movie trailer
Watch it now: Amazon Prime

And one more bonus film…

Lassie Come Home (1943)

This heartwarming classic is about a Yorkshire boy Joe Carraclough (Roddy McDowell) and his rough collie, Lassie who is sold and sent away during Depression-era Yorkshire, England. I remember seeing this for the first time as a kid and now as an adult I loved returning to a simple time and watching Lassie travel bravely through the gorgeous sceneries.
See: movie trailer
Watch it now: Amazon Prime

Check out this awesome 2 min. video:
100 Years of Famous Dogs in Films 

Whether you are dealing with depression, difficult times or other challenges at work or in life always remember that there are many tools and strategies you can use to feel confident you will get through it. Remember to do things you love like watch a favourite movie, take a walk in nature or eat delicious foods. Everyone deserves a mental health day and so do you!

And if you have a pet or know someone with a dog or cat remember the revitalizing magic of pet therapy. These furry little friends will be eager to help lift your spirits sky high!

See 100's of inspirational movie tips from this blog!

• READ: Top 10 Inspiring Movies for Managing Depression
• READ: Emmanuel & Depression featured in The Toronto Star
• LISTEN: Emmanuel's CBC Radio Interview on Movie Messages of Hope: The Fresh Air Show
• WATCH: Uplifting Movie Montage produced by Emmanuel Lopez!
• DISCOVER: 8 Creative Tools for Motivation & Depression

Remember How Movies Can Help You:
A) Entertain & Escape
B) Re-energize & Release
C) Inspiration & Motivation

Emmanuel Lopez-Motivatorman
Motivational Speaker
Discover Movies As Inspirational & Learning Tools!
See website:
© Emmanuel Lopez 2018

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