Michael "Windy" O'Shaughnessy is a wild animal trainer in the circus. He is married to a trapeze artist, and has an adoring son called Stubby. His wife's sister, Martha, is in town. She convinces his wife to run away with her and the child. Distraught and unable to focus, Michael loses his arm to a tiger while practicing a trick. He quits the circus to look for his wife and son, but with no luck.
Years later, his wife dies and custody of Stubby is given to him on a trial bases. Now, he must earn back the love of his son and his position in the circus, while undoing the programming of Stubby's evil Aunt Martha.
- Abusive Parents: Aunt Martha spent pretty much Stubby's entire life convincing him his father was evil. Even telling him he was responsible for his mother's death. Though, she died in a trapeze accident years after leaving her husband.
- Antagonistic Offspring: Stubby is this before warming to his dad.
- An Arm and a Leg: Windy loses his arm after being mauled by a tiger.
- Accuser of the Brethren: Aunt Martha. She doesn't want Stubby forgiving his dad. She tells him he can't love both his mother and father at the same time.
- A Dog Named "Dog": Stubby was originally going to name the dog Cleopatra, but Jeff tells him that was his mother's name. So, he names her "Dog" instead.
- Alcoholic Parent: Windy is this. Just part of the reason Martha hates him. That, and the whole circus thing.
- Blatant Lies: The stories Windy used to tell Stubby about single-handedly capturing the circus animals in Africa.
- Calling Parents by Their Name: An interesting variation. Stubby calls his dad "sir". Usually a sign of respect, Stubby does this to emphasize he feels no warmth towards the man and is only there because he has to be. Once he comes around, he starts calling him "Pop".
- Circus Brat: Stubby.
- Cheerful Child: Stubby is this as a toddler. He grows up to be a Troubled Child, but reverts back once he bonds with his long lost father.
- Doesn't Know Their Own Child: Justified in that Stubby was stolen from him. But when Windy is first trying to reconnect with Stubby, he is still trying to relate to him like the four year old he remembers.
- How Dad Met Mom: Windy tells Stubby this story, which makes Stubby see how much he actually did love his mom.
- Living Emotional Crutch: Stubby is this to Michael. When Stubby was taken from him, he lost his ability to do his job and wound up losing his arm. Stubby loving him again gives him the confidence to tame the animals once more. After the fight with Aunt Martha and a brief Broken Pedestal moment, he rushes out to see his father's act and tell him he's there. Preventing history from repeating itself.
- Maiden Aunt: Aunt Martha.
- Police Are Useless: The detectives give up on finding Windy's wife and son pretty quickly.
- Rebuilt Pedestal: Stubby adored his dad when he was little, but after being taken away was convinced his father was an abuser who caused his mother's death. After getting to know him again, he comes to adore him once more.
- Spiteful Suicide: Stubs threatens this when he is first forced to live with his father. His aunt Martha spent his whole life convincing him his dad was an abusive asshole after all.
- Shoo the Dog: Stubby tries to do this to Dog, after finding out his father trained her, but he just can't bring himself to neglect her.
- Sympathetic Adulterer: Windy regularly cheated on his wife. He still loved her, and it's seen as no big deal. Even Stubby doesn't bat an eye when Jeff tells him.
- Jeff: Oh, he used to run around on her a little. That's all.
- Uncle Tomfoolery: Jeff. A circus hand, and friend of Windy and Stubby.
- Would Hit a Girl: Michael slaps Aunt Martha in the face when she tries to turn Stubby against him again. Though, he does regret it.
- "Well Done, Dad!" Guy: Windy.