Tragi-cartoon #1: Scruffy, it's a hardknock life for Scruff

Kicking off my articles on tragic cartoons this is Scruffy, many of you may have seen this, if not thank your lucky stars.
January 24, 2005

As kids we are very susceptible to whatever society throws at us, and sometimes things can look ok on the outside and beneath the surface have the most disturbing impact on us. Parents in an effort to protect us shield us from the tales of war, end, and waste, and turn right over to the TV page. Most cartoons are designed to entertain us or teach us something in an entertaining way, but these cartoons I'll be reviewing are far from that, they have plots of PG-13 movies stuck into a children's cartoon. These are all cartoons I saw as a kid that made me my heart feel a bit hardened and I remember them so well that I've tracked them all down without evening knowing the names, So to kick off my series of reviews here's "Scruffy". Much thanks to my girlfriend Ashley for letting me borrow this one, she saved me from paying $30.00 for it on and inspired me to write this article by owning the flick, thanks doll.

This cartoon (which is supposedly based on a true story) as far as I'm concerned shouldn't be viewed by anyone under 11 and even that's stretching it a bit, but upon reaching a certain age you lose desire to watch a movie with an adorable pup on the cover, my point; this movie is targeted towards really young kids. I saw this movie when I was about 6 or 7 and still remember that I was wide eye shocked at it's content, this movie has it all violence, alcoholism, and sexual reference just to name a few. I must apologize in advance for the crappy shots, I took these pics the hard way and they didn't turn out excellent, but read along and you'll get the basic idea. Before you read on, look at the cover of the movie and think about what kind of "heartwarming" movie you would expect to be watching here, and keep that in mind as you read my review. One more thing, my last article was somewhat humorous, but don't expect too much of thathere, there's very little humor to be found in this movie.

The movie starts out with a dog by the name of Duchess being tied up by her owners, the houses in their neighborhood are being torn down and the new apartment doesn't allow pets. They leave promising her that soon her new owner will be there to come and take her to her knew home.

Confused Duchess chews through her rope and jumps into the condemned house through a boarded up window, meanwhile the new owner comes around to take her home, she sees the chewed rope and after calling her name decides Duchess must have run away and it's no use looking for her. Duchess is frantically searching the house for her owners when suddenly she feels sharp pains; she's having her baby (she seems pretty certain she's only having one). She lies down and births the puppy.

The puppy is growing and so she needs lots of nourishing dog-milk, this forces her mom to search for food everyday, luckily some friendly destruction workers feed her most of their lunch not knowing she lives with a puppy in a house they are soon to destroy, and also not knowing that chicken bones are bad for dogs.

After a month or so the puppy has grown considerably and now knows how to walk and talk.
Outside the workers have found a faster way to destroy houses, burn them down, and that's just what they are doing. Duchess awakens, sees the smoke, and knows the fire is spreading fast, so she searches desperately for an escape. She knows her only hope is to climb out the chimney which she does with great difficulty. The construction workers spot them on the roof and rush to save them from the blazing house. Duchess paws are bleeding pretty badly and need to be patched up, other then that they're in pretty good shape.

Later at one of the men's home he and his wife are discussing what to do with the two dogs sleeping beside them, the man suggests the pound, but the wife goes ballistic claiming that after seven days they would be put to sleep, and such action would be grounds for a divorce. To appease his wife the man decides to keep the dogs as their own much to the glee of the wife and the puppy.

After a few months of living with the kind folks Duchess feels the puppy is old enough to travel and decides to return to what's left of their home hoping to find her former owners, the puppy is not happy about this but follows obediently. After wandering a while they find they are lost (interesting because I've heard dogs can find their way home from anywhere). It begins to snow and they decide to camp under a bush for the night.

The puppy awakens and sees a flock of sheep trouncing about, and decides to play with them, as she does a couple of hunters see her and remark that she must be one of the sheep killing dogs. Shots are fired and Duchess awakens running as fast as she can with her puppy in front of her, the puppy reaches the other side of the field but looks back to see her mother's lifeless body lying in the snow. This hits you like a kick to the groin, never saw it coming as a kid and its worse then the Bambi scene. The hunters spot the pup and give chase, she escapes into a drain pipe and a mouse tells her that since she's an orphan now she'll have to return home to their former owners in the city.

So the puppy sets out in search of home, but is much too young to find it. Night falls as does hail and rain, cold and alone she takes refuge under a park bench. Nearby a street Urchin by the name of Mr. Tibbles is sitting under a bridge and making some food, the puppy smells it and decides to take a chance and approach him. Tibbles feeds her (I know the picture looks like she's puking, but she's eating that swill) and decides that since they are both homeless they should stay together. Since the puppy reminds him of his old dog Scruffy he gives her that name and his dog's old collar.

Tibbles and Scruffy make money by performing theater and doing tricks that Tibbles teaches her, they do very well and make more in one day then some brain surgeons, so much in fact that he later comments to her they will soon be able to bye a house for themselves.

One night a couple of thugs see them carrying a hat full of cash and decide that the hat would look better on them, they demand he hand it over immediately to avoid any injury to his already tattered face. Tibbles throws his bag of groceries at them and he and Scruffy give them the run-around, locking them in a train car.

One night they return home from acting and are preparing some, food, but Tibbles is having a problem, he is coughing violently and after trying to take a swig of liquor he collapses to the ground calling Scruffy to him in a weak voice. Some people happen to be passing by and call an ambulance which takes Tibbles away. The narrator informs the viewer that poor Tibbles died on the way to the hospital, they aren't pulling any punches.

Scruffy tries to follow the ambulance, gets exhausted and somehow falls off of a bridge and into a river. She can't swim and it seems as though she will have the same fate as Tibbles and her mom, when suddenly a dog named Butch rescues and pulls her ashore. They discuss Tibbles and Butch tells her she can come live with him and his other stray friends.

This next scene is a little twisted, Scruffy meets Butch's buds and they are a depressing bunch. One is a Border Collie named Collie who had a puppy that died and now delirious carries around an old shoe thinking it's her puppy; there's Ralph an alcoholic boxer who can hardly walk without assistance; solo an Irish terrier who hates Scruffy and pretty much everyone else; Sam an Irish setter who seems pretty normal at first. Sam noticing Scruffy is female introduces himself in a very forward manner which makes Scruffy a little confused and Butch informs Sam that she's not grown up yet. Sam retreats to his bed and Scruffy sleeps with on eye open (I have never met an Irish setter that hasn't gotten overly friendly with me). Scruffy lives with the strays and learns the tricks of the trade, including how to find food, and how to make fire in oil barrels.

There is a sketchy looking man with bad motives who has a dog named Caesar, he's been following Scruffy since Tibbles died and has been waiting for an opportunity to get her alone. One night Ralph is wasted at his favorite pub and it's Butch's and Scruffy's turn to get him, once they arrive and get him out Scruffy thinks of Tibbles and decides to go back to the bridge for a while.

the sketchy man sees his opportunity and putting on all of his charm he goes to Scruffy pretending to be a friend of Tibbles, and with a little help from Caesar lures her into coming with him. Butch gets worried when Scruffy doesn't come home and sets out to see what became of her; he finds the trail and begins to follow them.

Arriving at a convenience store the man walks in with his two dogs (try pulling that off at a Texaco) and while Scruffy distracts the cashier with her tricks, the badman is stealing money from the cash drawer without Scruffy's knowledge. It's funny that the cashier is so dumb, I mean the man is standing behind the counter and saying "yes that's right, keep looking hahaha keep looking" if that was happening at my work I'd be a little suspicious of this man's motives. Luckily Butch arrives on the scene and grabs the bag of money returning it to the cashier before he and Scruffy bolt for the door, with Caesar close behind.

They reach the junkyard and Butch and Caesar try to negotiate over Scruffy, but they can't seem to reach an agreement so they get into a vicious dog fight. By the time the fight ends Butch is pretty scratched up and bleeding all over his face, Caesar runs off bawling and yipping. Butch collapses and Scruffy takes charge telling the others to get water and food for him (I'm not sure how, but they fill a water dish for him.) the dogs bring him lots of food, but his condition does not improve. Scruffy is concerned about losing her dear friend she looks to the sky and begs that he not be taken like her mom and Tibbles, and as the narrator explains she unknowingly has just said a prayer, and wowzer prayers were designed for ignorant dogs because Butch is instantly healed and ready to go, I wish my prayers were answered so fast.

Caesar comes back seemingly ready for round two, but he explains he's a stray now because he didn't bring back Scruffy, he seems ok with the fact that Butch lost his home and warns them that the dogcatcher is coming for them (he overheard his owner on the phone). They think he's full of dog crap, but then see the bid yellow van come rolling onto the scene. They decide to hide under a car until the dogcatchers leave, Ralph being the drunken brain cell depleted dog that he is makes a noise and alerts the men to their presence. The dogs leave and scatter into groups of two hoping to confuse their pursuers, but the men target Butch and Scruffy and decide to go after them. The chase lasts for a while and eventually ends with Butch escaping and Scruffy getting nabbed, Butch chases the van and they kindly let him jump in the back with her.

The narrator explains the scene of the pound in great detail; new dogs are out in the Monday cage, Monday moves to Tuesday and so on, The dogs in cage Sunday however have been there for a week and are put to sleep in a small shack. On the second day Butch and Scruffy find that their friends were caught and put into the cage next to them. People come to the pound and look at the dogs hoping to find one they like, none of the circle of strays are picked to be taken. Butch recommends that Scruffy do her tricks so that people will want her, but Scruffy (in a rather awkward scene) says she would rather stay and die with Butch, because she loves him and wants to be with him forever, he expresses a mutual feeling to her.

On the sixth day a reporter comes and takes pictures of the pound and the dogs, this seems unimportant, but is key later. The final day comes and Butch is lead away to be put down, they decide to do him first to give the puppy a little more time. Just as the door to the shack closes the other dogcatcher comes running out for the first to stop, he's carrying a newspaper which highlights Scruffy (I don't know how the heck the reporter knew Scruffy's name...hmmmm) and the fact that she will be killed, he claims many people have already called wanting to adopt her, Butch is spared since they think some people may want the other dogs on this wondrous day.

Every last dog in the pound is adopted out and Butch and Scruffy go to the same home together. And a sequence shows the other strays paired up with matching owners even Caesar with a young boy.

The next scene shows Scruffy 6 months later, and my how she has grown, she is surrounded by puppies (it's always funny how cartoons show the puppies looking exactly like their parents when in real life they would be a fugly muttly mix) and as you may have guessed Butch is the proud papa. The story ends with this surprisingly pleasant scene, the narrator however informs us that not all dogs are so lucky and it's up to us to make sure all dogs are cared for. The End.

This story is definitely an animal rights/PETA type pf movie and it kind of bugs me when organizations try to plant things in kids' heads by subjecting them to things that show them images and world problems they don't need to be seeing at such a young age. Don't get me wrong I think it's horrible that dogs are mistreated and that so many animals have horrible lives, but kids at such a young age can do nothing but worry and feel depressed over such films and it does anything but warm your heart.

Thanks for reading, I hope you enjoyed this article, I'm sure it's not as great as my last one and if it doesn't float anybodies boat, I may skip on the other tragitoons I was planning on reviewing, drop me a line and give me some feedback let me know what you thought. Thanks again.
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