Homeward Bound: The Incredible Journey (1993)

This is the heart-wrenching tale of two dogs and a cat escaping a farm in the mountains of California to see their kids back home. Try not to cry in the first fifteen minutes as the kids say their goodbyes to the critters– I have a hard enough time going to work every day. Another five minutes in, the animals experience abandonment again as their new ward leaves for a few days to winter her horses.

Not content with being stuck at the farm, Chance, Shadow, and Sassy escape. And so begins their incredible journey through the Sierra Nevada Mountains.

Following encounters with a bear, a cougar, and a porcupine and losing then recovering Sassy, the three find a young girl and help return her to her parents. They are rewarded for their bravery by being placed in an animal shelter. The end of Act II sees their escape from there to continue their mission.

ACT III

Chance, Shadow, and Sassy exit the mountains to find civilization and their families within a day’s walk.

What did Shadow fall into?

Older rail yards used trou de loup to keep thieves, boxcar hitchers, and graffiti artists from getting close to the rail lines. Due to the passing of an OSHA guideline in the early 20th century, these death pits were ordered dismantled, but not necessarily filled in. Since then, they’ve fallen in disrepair and have gobbled up a random dog or engineer.

How did Shadow get out?

It wasn’t deemed necessary to the story so it was left out. I’ll go ahead and spoil it for you: he climbed out. After resting in there for a couple weeks, at least long enough for Bob’s contract in San Francisco to end and the family to return home, Shadow gained enough strength to climb out.

Would Shadow have given up on Peter that quickly?

Waiting 30 seconds, then resigning to the thought that Peter was old and must’ve died? No, that’s why he traveled for several days weeks over California’s mountains to get to him.

If you have any other questions about this tear-jerking ending, leave them below.

~Phil

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