Kayla*: A Cry in the Wilderness (A wild dog tames a young boy’s loneliness and pain) (ONE-ACTION Canada Questar DVD, $8.65, 2000, 96 minutes, rated NR)
In a Nutshell
The year was 1920, the year after the flu epidemic. It was winter in northern Quebec and a young boy moves to the country with his mother newly married to a country doctor after her husband, son of a famous explorer named MacKenzie disappeared in the wilderness several years previously.
A pack of dogs roams the countryside, taking farm animals – sheep and calves. Against the doctor’s advice, the township sets out strychnine to rid them of this problem.
The boy believes his father is still alive and also believes one of the pack dogs is his father’s lead sled dog, Kayla. It is also tough to suddenly have a new stepfather who is very different. . . .
The Boy who Talks to Dogs, Carpenter Hands, and . . .
. . . love and hate and skis and snowshoes and plenty of shouting in anger and threats of boarding school in Montreal and a sled dog race with no rules and a girl friend who makes dog sleds and a boy forced to grow up.
Parts of Kayla can be a bit uncomfortable for children to view (like many animal stories) but all the way through, they will cheer as Sam the boy shows he is smarter than the adults (and, isn’t that what makes family movies great?)
What does it take for adults to learn the lessons that children already know? What is a father? When does one let go of a dream? What makes a family?
A study in history reveals itself in the automobiles and the songs children may not know but grandparents will sing along with.
*Kayla can be found in some libraries and also on Amazon. The movie is adapted from Three Dog Winter. Notice the harnesses on the sled dogs: they are back attach harness which encourage the dogs to pull, unlike front-attach harnesses (like the Easy Walk), which help prevent pulling in family dogs nowadays.