More than a year into our collective lockdown, many of us have gotten used to streaming the latest films from the comfort of our homes with our animal companions by our side. But no matter how desperate I am for a couple of hours of escapism, Disney’s upcoming “Cruella” — the origin story for Cruella De Vil, the villain from “101 Dalmatians” — is one film that gives me paws. For real-life dogs, I worry it’s not going to end well.
When “101 Dalmatians” was released in 1996, kids clamored for the adorable polka-dotted dogs. I was one of them. My parents, seeing how enamored I was by the breed, were convinced. Having learned that Dalmatians are frequently inbred, they wanted to do what they thought was the responsible thing and find a “reputable” breeder.
Pepper was only a couple of months old when we brought him home. I named him for his peppered spots, of course, but I also added a “Sgt.” because he had a series of spots on his right shoulder that resembled a sergeant’s stripe. Sgt. Pepper also had some scarring on his left leg and foot. We were told that during his mother’s whelping, he sat in urine for too long and the ammonia caused permanent hair loss and scarring. Looking back, one wonders how “reputable” this breeder could’ve been.