Tag Archives: Dog

The simple story of a dog–and why it makes you cry

So there’s something stuck in your eye, right?

Let’s talk about why this works, as a story, and how it could be even better. Because I’m not adding value by simply sticking funny or heartwarming videos in your feed. We have to dissect them and learn a little. SCHOOL IS IN SESSION.

Why this works and how to make it better:

 

1) The mangled start doesn’t matter–yet fixing it would’ve made it even more viral

This video works even if you read the story on Huffingtonpost or wherever, and know all the story beats, before you watch the thing. That’s how good the story is.

HOWEVER: Starting out a video with text screens like this is almost always a mistake. Cramming all the text in the beginning slows it down and I bet a good percentage of people bail in those first few seconds instead of sticking with it, which is a mistake.

How to fix it: Start with video of the dog chained up. We don’t need any text to understand the problem, to get that setup. Then if you really have to, add a little voice narration. I’d kill the text screen entirely.

 

2) Our narrator takes risks and is a hero

The narrator keeps the focus entirely on Rusty the Dog, but he shows real heroism, taking time–and risks.

He spends time to get to know this dog, repeatedly risks getting bit and confronts the owner, saying he’s not leaving without the dog. That took guts.

And all the while, he knows his family can’t adopt the dog, that he’d have to find another home for it.

Everything the narrator does is unselfish, and while he doesn’t focus on it, or take credit, this makes the story better.

 

3) The biggest possible gaps 

Conflict and surprise comes from the biggest possible gaps between expectation and result.

  • You expect the chained up, aggressive dog to bite his hand.
  • You expect the owner to laugh at him when he says he’s not leaving without the dog.
  • You expect the narrator to adopt the dog himself, not search for a home.
  • And you expect the dog to be timid and afraid when finally free, not friendly and joyous.

This is a little story, a tiny snippet of life. But it made me feel more than most of the action movies that I’d happily paid money to watch and wouldn’t see again.

I’d see this again. I’d smile to see a follow-up, to find out how Rusty is doing.

And I’d want to shake the narrator’s hand for taking some risks, and doing the right thing, for an old dog most people would avoid and forget.

 

More posts for your amusement and possible education:

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This is Guy Bergstrom the writer, not the Guy Bergstrom in Stockholm or the guy in Minnesota who sells real estate or whatever. Separate guys. Kthxbai.

Guy Bergstrom. Photo by Suhyoon Cho.

Reformed journalist. Scribbler of speeches and whatnot. Represented by Jill Marr of the Sandra Dijkstra Literary Agency.

6 Comments

by | August 8, 2015 · 11:50 am

Dogs driving cars, I kid you not

This isn’t one of those joke photos where somebody puts Spot on their lap as they’re cruising down I-5.

This is a BBC news report from New Zealand, where they’re teaching dogs to truly drive cars.

Related post: Cats who open freezers and dogs who fetch COLD BEER

Three things:

1) Anything said with a British accent is — by definition — 15,923 times more awesome.

2) It is official: New Zealand raaawks.

3) When can I hire a trained Schnauzer  chauffeur from New Zealand, and does he require health benefits and a 401(k)?

Related posts: 

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This is Guy Bergstrom the writer, not the Guy Bergstrom in Stockholm or the guy in Minnesota who sells real estate or whatever. Separate guys. Kthxbai.

Guy Bergstrom. Photo by Suhyoon Cho.

Reformed journalist. Scribbler of speeches and whatnot. Wrote a thriller that won some award (PNWA 2013). Represented by Jill Marr of the Sandra Dijkstra Literary Agency.

3 Comments

Filed under 5 Random Thursday, Animals, monsters and monstrous animals

Random Thursday: Cats who open freezers and dogs who fetch COLD BEER

As the owner of a cat and a Hound of the Baskervilles, they are constantly doing things that surprise me.

But my cat doesn’t climb the fridge to open the freezer.

And the HOB doesn’t open the fridge to fetch me a Guinness.

Here’s another woman who’s trained her dog that trick. This is a trend. I expected all sorts of men to be working VERY HARD on “Dog, fetch me a cold one.” I am surprised and impressed.

And now for something brutally useful: how to train your dog to HEEL, which is very, very hard. My vet has bloodhounds who don’t heel. You could strap on rollerblades and have them power you down the highway. The Hound of the Baskervilles also does not understand the concept, because he only has two speeds: (1) stroll and (2) kill. So if you have a heedless hound, or a stubborn pet cougar, tell me if this works. I’m gonna try it.

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This is Guy Bergstrom the writer, not the Guy Bergstrom in Stockholm or the guy in Minnesota who sells real estate or whatever. Separate guys. Kthxbai.

Guy Bergstrom. Photo by Suhyoon Cho.

Reformed journalist. Scribbler of speeches and whatnot. Wrote a thriller that won some award (PNWA 2013). Represented by Jill Marr of the Sandra Dijkstra Literary Agency.

3 Comments

Filed under 5 Random Thursday, Animals, monsters and monstrous animals