‘Homeward Bound’ Was Inspired By Real Pets and Their Unbreakable Bond

Some of the most amazing movies in history are based on true stories. Like Homeward Bound, which drew inspiration from an unlikely friendship between pets.

Homeward Bound tells the story of animals navigating a treacherous wilderness to find their way home across hundreds of miles. The heartwarming tale has delighted fans of all ages and amazingly, it’s based on a real-life interspecies friendship.

‘Homeward Bound’ is a remake of a classic film

Most movie fans are familiar with Disney’s 1993 family film Homeward Bound: The Incredible Journey. But not everyone knows it’s actually a remake of the 1963 film The Incredible Journey, which is based on the book by the same name.

The original film (also made by Disney) featured narration by Rex Allen. It told a similar story of how Luath the Labrador Retriever, Bodger the Bull Terrier, and Tao the Siamese cat trekked 250 miles through the Canadian wilderness on their quest to reach home.

Without the author’s pets, The Incredible Journey might never have happened. They served as the inspiration behind the book and the movies.

Sheila Bunford was charmed by her pets being best friends

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The author Sheila Bunford had an English Bull Terrier and a Siamese cat in England during World War II, D23 reported. The two didn’t fight like cats and dogs — instead, they cuddled.

“They were closer than any other dog and cat relationship I have ever seen,” Bunford said. “Sleeping in the same basket, hunting and playing together, they made a lawless pair.” She later added a Labrador to the family and he became an inseparable part of the group, helping the Bull Terrier navigate life when he started to go blind.

Their friendship helped inspire Bunford to write The Incredible Journey. Fans might notice how the family’s last name in the 1993 version of Homeward Bound is also “Bunford” as a tribute to the author.

Talking animals in ‘Homeward Bound’ don’t move their mouths

The Incredible Journey doesn’t have any talking animals. Instead, they use a voiceover to narrate what’s going on. But the 1993 remake of Homeward Bound gave a voice to the trio of animals thanks to A-list talent including Sally Field as Sassy the cat, Michael J. Fox as Chance the dog, and Don Ameche speaking for Shadow the wise Golden Retriever.

Unlike other movies at the time, the talking animals don’t move their mouths. But they did get plenty of training. Ben, Rattler, and Tiki were the real-life pets who played in the movie along with 4 other dogs each for Shadow and Chance plus 10 other cats for Sassy. They helped out when the furry actors needed breaks.

The ‘Homeward Bound’ pets helped create a family

The remake of Homeward Bound focused on family as much as the journey itself. In the movie, the Bunfords are dealing with becoming a blended family through marriage. Their shared love of the pets helped to forge new bonds with each other, delivering a clear message about the importance of family.

“To me, the most important part of this movie is about family,” producer Jeff Chernov told D23. “The human characters don’t start out as a solid family, but they grow into one.”

No wonder Homeward Bound is such an enduring family favorite.