The Three Deadly Sins of Dog Writing

Tuesday, January 13, 2009

1. Never use the term "boundless enthusiasm" to describe your dog or anything in the remotiest of connections to it.

"Boundless" is one of those words, like "salubrius," in that no one can ever use it without sounding like an a$$hole. Unfortunately, it actually sounds kind of good when it's used with "enthusiasm," so it's really, really tempting. But leave it alone --some words were meant to be lonely and bitter 35-year-old virgins living in the basement of their mother's boyfriend's house, scarfing down ho-hos and honestly believing that Babylon Five was a good show--and this is one of them. For all the times we've cringed at "boundless enthusiam" or "boundless zest for life" or "boundless elan," we wish that those authors would have a boundless stroke or a boundless pancreatic cancer. Actually that sounds pretty good. So does "boundless bosoms."

2. Writing something from the dog's point of view is neither clever nor cute nor original nor any of the things you think it is.

This is part of a vicious cycle: We don't publish things written from the dog's perspective in our dog magazines (or, as far as I know, any of our other magazines), so when a would-be freelancer flips through them, he's thinking, I know! I'll write something from the dog's perspective! They'll have to publish it because none of their authors ever thought of that!

They have, and we won't. Good writing's about substance, not gimmicks.

And for the record, your dog does not refer to you as its "Mommy"; your dog does not "wike" "widdle snugglies" (and in all likelihood would have its throat torn out in the wild and probably even Key West by all members of the pack for even thinking that), and above all, your dog -- for the love of GOD -- your dog DOES NOT WRITE POETRY. Nor does it find anything clever or witty in rhyming "snausages" with "sausages."

3. Unconditional love.

"Labs love you with that wonderful, unconditional love"; "It's that unconditional love that only a Gordon Setter can give"; "You may think it's incontinence, but it's just the unconditional love of a [insert breed]."

It's just a dopey term.