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Lend a Paw is a Mickey Mouse short from 1941. It is the only Mickey Mouse short to win an Academy Award for Best Animated Short. Since Steamboat Willie in 1928, Mickey’s popularity skyrocketed! Mickey’s personality was so good-natured that, as journalist Irving Wallace wrote in 1949, “No expletives, violence, practical jokes, double dealings, cruelty, nor arrogance may be found in his present-day make-up.”
Mickey represented the best of humanity. So other characters, like Donald Duck, began to embody other human characteristics. In Lend a Paw, that duty fell to Mickey’s pal Pluto. Like Donald Duck, Pluto has a little devil and a little angel chattering in his ear.
- Tell about a time when you got jealous? What did you do?
- In what ways can you relate to Pluto?
- Do you experience the internal chatter of a “little devil” and a “little angel?” What is that like for you?
- Pluto rescues the kitten and then loses interest after realizing that it is a kitten. How do the stereotypes we cling to decide who we help?
- Read Ephesians 2:8-9. How does Mickey show grace to Pluto?
- How does God’s grace warm us when we are frozen?
- Read 1 John 4:19. According to this verse, what is our response to receiving love and grace from God?
- Why do you think Pluto struggled with deciding whether he should be compassionate or not to the kitten?
In a single moment, Pluto does a courageous and compassionate thing, while also doing the exact opposite. He rescues the kitten blindly, not knowing that it is a kitten inside the bag with an iron tied to it. But, realizing that a kitten is inside, he allows the stereotype about cats, based on his tradition, to decide his response. He is no longer interested in being courageous and compassionate.
The kitten, so young that it has not learned such things as stereotypes, follows Pluto home. Mickey Mouse, unconcerned with stereotypes, welcomes the stranger into his home. He offers the kitten milk in Pluto’s bowl. Mickey’s actions prompt an internal struggle in Pluto.
To be or not to be compassionate?
But if Pluto follows Mickey’s example, there is only one option – show compassion. Mickey, like a loving parent, shows the same compassion to Pluto. Pluto is sent outside in for a doggy time-out because of his actions. Mickey does not hold on to his anger or his disappointment in Pluto.
When Pluto falls into the well while helping the kitten, Mickey brings the frozen pup inside to thaw out. The compassionate grace of Jesus Christ does the same thing to our frozen, sin-filled hearts. While we struggle within ourselves what is the right choice, Jesus has always decided his choice.
Lord, may your grace warm our frozen hearts. May we love others as you love us, with compassion and justice. Amen.
Lend a Paw has a very distinct message, summed up by the little angel at the end of the short. “Kindness to animals, my friend, will be repaid in the end.” The short was to promote kindness to animals. Consider ways you or your group can support your local humane society this week. Maybe bake homemade dog treats or collect gently used toys and blankets for the shelter.