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.
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!