Noooo! Not the dog!

lab-golden[1]When I gave my mother a copy of ‘Marley and Me’ to read, I warned her it was sad. My pragmatic mum just shrugged and said, ‘It’s a dog book – they always die in the end!’

Which of course can be said of animals in real life, and of all of us, naturally, but I knew what she meant. It’s a sad fact of life that we usually outlast our pets by many years – better than the other way around, though, I reckon!

However, that doesn’t stop me detesting when writers of fictional stories and screenplays use that very trite emotional hook of killing off the pets. It’s a cheap shot, especially when it’s not necessary for the storyline. I see it as unimaginative writing, and it usually puts me off the rest of the book/movie.

Am I just being an absolute wimp? Maybe! But there’s more than enough of that sadness in real life. I can accept it (just) when it’s an essential part of the plot. Or a fact of life, such as an elderly dog or cat passing away.

And no, I don’t know why I’m less upset about some of the human characters who die. Sometimes it’s even fun to guess who’s expendable (the sergeant with two days until retirement, the rookie cop, the old army mate, the cheerleader in a slasher flick).

Maybe I’m just not strong enough mentally to deal with innocent animals’ deaths.  Some books are borderline – John Marsden’s ‘Checkers’ comes to mind. I love his work and his books are always edgy (a good reason to read him), but I was so mad at what he did in that book! So that I don’t give away a big part of his plotline, you’ll have to read it yourself and then tell me what you think – did he really have to do that? Could there have been another way to show the desperation of the character?

I can no longer read Sonya Hartnett’s books. This is probably a compliment to her – I want to read her because her writing is amazing. But she’s fierce and no-holds-barred when it comes to killing off creatures of any species in her fiction. So I know that for my sake, I have to stay away. She has had that strong an impact on me.

'Happy dog' logo from the 'Does the Dog Die?' website

‘Happy dog’ logo from the ‘Does the Dog Die?’ website

Interesting – I just did an internet search on this subject and found a number of sites, including this one: Does the Dog Die? Ha! I knew it – I’m not alone! (Yes, it lists movie titles with an icon against each one to warn you if an animal dies or survives.)

I guess as I said before, I dislike it most when writers kill off pets to give the audience a cheap thrill.  I’m trying to think of the last movie I watched which did this, but I can’t recall the name because I stopped watching it at that point.

That is also my practical mum’s advice – if it hurts, stop it!

About carolynswriting

Author, Menagerie Manager, 9-5er. Love my writing, my family and other animals, my friends, and even my job :)
This entry was posted in Animals, Writing and tagged , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

4 Responses to Noooo! Not the dog!

  1. colinandray says:

    Totally agree with you. Killing off a cast member “just because” is as tacky as special effects “because we can”; a sexual encounter because “nobody would watch this rubbish otherwise”; But then, who says that ethics and integrity have any role in writing books or making movies. Sadly, most are simply driven to make money and all we can do is support those mediums that do have a good story without “convenient drama”; that tell a story and stay within the scope of that story. I would like to think that the market place will eventually, and naturally, correct these unfortunate traits however, most people I know couldn’t tell where the plot finishes and where the window dressings start so “my dear Carolyn” we are stuck with the status quo and can only exercise due diligence if we want intelligent, perhaps educational and always thought provoking entertainment! 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Ah yes, treats! They’re a key factor in our household 🙂


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