Does A Good Dog Make A Bad Blog?

Honey is such a good girl.

Does that make her a bad subject for a blog?

Do good dogs make bad blogs? Honey the golden retriever wonders.

If I’m such a good dog, why am I sleeping under the table with the shoes?

Stop Making My Head Hurt

A blogger I’ve adored for over six years said something interesting in a discussion last week.

“Well let’s face it! Well behaved dogs don’t make for good blogs.”

And I’ve thought about it ever since. Thanks for making my head hurt.

It’s true that mischievous antics, while messy and troubling at the time, result in amusing anecdotes. Heck, they result in bestsellers. And movie deals.

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Just look at Marley & Me (interestingly subtitled, Life and Love with the World’s Worst Dog).

Would anyone read a book about a charming Labrador retriever who came home with a family, fit in perfectly, and never chewed through a door or jumped out of a car window?

Probably not.

Honey the Golden Retriever checks out the mud.

I like mud. But I’m too good a girl to like it enough for you to get a really funny blog post out of it.

It’s true that I’ve followed many blogs that were compelling because the writer was facing a training challenge, trying to solve a medical mystery, or because the dog had a scrappy personality that could not be constrained.

But those blogs had more—good writing that drew me in, the ability to make me care about their struggles. And a goofy picture of a dog hanging from the top of a six-foot stockade fence (true story) didn’t hurt either.

So it’s not as simple as “bad” dog equals “good” blog.

And if that’s true, maybe we people who are lucky enough to live with easy dogs can tell a good story or two without racking up thousands in vet bills or tearing our hair out trying to help a dog who struggles to fit in this world.

Mud at low tide combined with a bad dog would make a great blog.

Not sure I want a good blog post enough to send Honey out to play in the mud that’s revealed during low tide.

What Every Good Story Needs

It’s true that so-called bad dogs (like the polarizing A Good Dog: The Story of Orson, Who Changed My Life) or dogs in bad circumstances (The Incredible Journey) make good stories.

But I’d argue that what makes a good story is a challenge.

And whether our dogs are highly stressed or happy-go-lucky, we’re all facing the exact same challenge: how do you communicate with someone who shares your life intimately but who doesn’t speak English?

Honey the golden retriever is a good dog who doesn't like having her picture taken.

I may not speak English. But I’m making it perfectly clear that I hate having my picture taken by turning my head. How much more do I have to say?

And if you think the word “intimate” is too weird to use for dog, reflect on the fact that people can live with a spouse for decades without ever sharing a bathroom. But few of us can claim to have ever used a toilet without a pet for company.

I don’t have stories about Honey that I had with earlier dogs.

Honey has never amused my guests with Agatha and Christie’s most embarrassing (and slightly obscene) behavior.

And I’ve never come back bleeding from a walk, like I did with my last dog, Shadow.

But every day I have the same challenge with Honey that I had with my earlier goofy and reactive dogs. And that’s how to give her the best life that fulfills her physical and emotional needs.

So maybe it’s not that “bad” dogs lead to good blogs. Because every dog has a story.

Even a good dog.

Honey the golden retriever fell asleep in her water bowl.

If you want a story, tell everyone how you let me fall asleep on my water bowl and I woke up dripping.

Your Turn: Do you agree that “bad” dogs make better stories? Do any of you folks with easy dogs find them boring?

 

 

 

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Comments

  1. I’ve definitely noticed this trend with blogs. Drama engages and people have lots of opinions to share when things aren’t going smoothly and/or the writer isn’t happy. I personally find it frustrating to read “bad dog” (or more often, “bad horse”) blogs where there doesn’t seem to be progress happening; consistently stressed critters and people are not entertaining for me. (My young guy could easily be the focus of a bad-dog blog. But that’s not how I want to think about him, you know? We get farther focusing on how funny and awesome he is.)

    Luckily, good writing, thoughtful analysis, happy adventures, and lots of other stuff that I find more appealing also gets attention! So I mostly read those instead. And I do think there’s a lot to be said for narrative arc; anybody who’s sincerely working on a project can be interesting (those are the bad-dog blogs that I love!) and I think it can help focus a blog to frame it around a particular theme/issue.

    Interesting question! I look forward to reading the comments. 🙂

    • Love your point that it’s the progress that makes a “bad” dog story compelling.

      But plenty of people disagree with us. Do you remember how popular those dog shaming sites were/are?

      I know it’s funny when our dogs act mischievous. I can now laugh about Honey chewing a hole in my hair dye bottle that I didn’t realize until after I started squirting hair color all over the freshly painted wall and new floor.

      But I think putting a sign around her neck and posting a picture of her near my stained wall would have made me feel worse.

  2. Roxy and Torrey never get into trouble either. I just have to get by with pretty pictures.

    • Ha ha! Well if anyone ever thought good dogs were boring, they’d certainly have another thing coming once they saw your gorgeous photos. 🙂

  3. Mike Webster says:

    From the Husband: I happen to think Something Wagging features a good dog and a great (i.e., insightful, kind, compelling, and often humorous) writer.

    Some might quite understandably accuse me of bias, but I know a good blog when I read it. 🙂

  4. I agree with Mike – a good writer makes a good blog. None of our dogs have been “bad” but I still have tons of stories to tell about them and maybe they are only amusing to me…but who cares!

    • Not only amusing to you. I love hearing people’s dog stories. The best ones are told by people who make me feel like I “know” a dog I’ve never met.

  5. Ellen D Haith says:

    What the two above me said/wrote! I love reading about Honey – just the way she is!

    • Awww, thanks Ellie. I’m getting ready to show off a facelift for Something Wagging. Hopefully it will inspire me to do some cool things with Honey that I’ve been dying to share.

  6. I think it’s a case of “bad” dogs make it easier to find something to write about them, rather than it being good vs bad and one being better than the other!

    • Well I’ve never run out of things to write about. So I guess it’s okay that Honey is good and boring.

      Of course, just because I don’t run out of things to write about doesn’t mean everyone else wants to read it. 🙂

      • But I wonder if that’s cause you have the joy of dog walks. I always came back from a dog walk with loads of ideas, now I don’t walk and have that time to process stuff I struggle

        • Maybe it’s time to work on some bunny leash training? 🙂

          Or just take yourself for a walk. Dogs are a great excuse. But walking is something that’s good for all of us.

          • She has her own leash but I worry about taking her where wild rabbits are in case she can pick up their diseases – although she is fully vaccinated!

            I will go out walking more in the summer, but in winter I find it hard to motivate myself, especially when I have a bunny sat at home wanting cuddles!

  7. I like blogs that just talk about life with their dogs. Like Honey and you. That’s all we try to do. You wouldn’t have the readers you do, if that was true. 😉

  8. I think if you truly love your pets that shows through in the writing, and that is what people are looking for. Cute pictures are always an attraction, and dogs don’t have to be bad to be cute (though sometimes the guilty looks are cute!). As long as your life revolves around your pets – which most of ours do – we’ll never run out of things to write about or cute photos to share.

    • Personally, I find OTHER people’s mischievous dogs more fun. It’s not nearly musing when you’re cleaning up a dumped trash can for the third time in a day. 🙂

      On the other hand, if I someday live with another trash surfer in the future, I know I’ll love him or her no less.

  9. I’ve noticed a serious disconnect between that sweet golden face in the pictures and the somewhat snarky dialogue that someone writes in the captions.

    Just saying

    • Ha, you caught me. I’ve long suspected that if Honey could talk, she’d call me on my nonsense. She’s too smart not to. 🙂

      That’s what inspires the captions.

  10. I’m a pretty good dog and I have a pretty good blog I think? If I need some spice, I just look to a fur sibling for trouble. Between Bailie and cat bro Bert, there is plenty of it!

    • You show off the best part about being a good dog with a blog–you get to go so many interesting places and do some interesting things. 🙂

  11. I don’t think you have to be a “bad” dog to have a good blog. What I find boring is people who don’t keep things real. Like basically those people who have a perfect, fake internet life. There’s no such thing as a perfectly awesome dog, who’s 100% perfect in every way and there’s no problems ever. We all have our challenges, our dogs do dumb things sometimes that we don’t expect and I enjoy reading truthful stories from everyone’s lives.

    • Heck, just living with a creature (my husband calls dogs fuzzy aliens) who speaks a different language, smells things we can’t even imagine, and has a mind of her own is quite the challenge.

      So yes, failing to keep it real is probably the biggest crime in dog blogs. That would turn me away pretty quickly too.

  12. The fact that you have great readers who love and follow along on your adventures shows that good dogs make for good blogs too! 🙂

    I think writing is most important in the long run, granted training challenges do make for interesting reads. *sometimes* unless it’s your training challenge then I think it’s less amusing. LoL Ziva makes my head hurt sometimes.

    • Ha ha! Yeah, I’m happy to read about recalcitrant or mischievous dogs too… when they aren’t mine.

      I’ve gotten some good stories from some of our crazy foster dogs and previous pets. But there are definitely days I’d rather have had a more boring life. 🙂

  13. The moniker “bad blog” is a pet peeve of mine in general. When someone cares enough to share and put their photos and opinions out there, they’ve earned my respect. Of course like anyone I have individual preferences – but if you don’t like a blog, that doesn’t mean someone else isn’t relating to it.
    Good writing, some pics, and not being a troll in general. That’s good enough in my view!

    • Nicely said, Amy. There are so many blogs in the world and each one brings something special to the world.

      I also admire anyone who takes the time to share their lives with the world. Blogging is hard work.

      Of course, I just like having the chance to meet more dogs. 🙂

  14. Not better, just different. We love your blog even if Ms. Honey were a pill…or not. 🙂

  15. I agree with you, it’s all in how it’s presented and written. A well written blog about a pet rock could be entertaining, if the writer were engaging, had a sense of humor and took good pictures. Conversely, a blog that’s poorly written with bad grammar, poor spelling and that makes me work to grasp the content loses me quickly.

  16. Shadow and Callie are/were good dogs, for the most part. They’ve given me enough fodder for earlier blog posts. But as they get/got older, it’s been harder for my not-so-creative mind to come up with good posts. Ducky, on the other hand, is my entertaining, somewhat demonic, challenge of a lifetime. As for Honey, I’ve loved every. single. solitary post that of which she has been the subject. So I have to say good dogs DO make good blog posts!

    • Thanks! Although Honey would probably be just as happy if I gave up the blog and spent my writing time feeding her bon bons and taking her for walks. 🙂

  17. Thanks for making my brain hurt again. I actually mean that in the nicest way possible, since one of my favorite things about blogs is the ability they have to make me ponder a new question or see things in a different way.

    And I agree that good writing and the ability to tell a good story is what keeps me coming back to blogs, regardless of what quirks the pet may have.

    But there’s also a few blogs I read because they resonate with me by using language that makes me think “oh my gosh, she’s just like me” or because their experiences mirror mine.

    And now my brain will continue hurting as I ponder this more, but that’s not a bad thing at all.

    • Blogs are one way we find our tribe. We “meet” people from different places we can relate to.

      For me, that’s been one of the best things about blogging. I’ve made lifelong friends whose politics, religion, and home country are different from mine. But we’re able to relate to each other through our relationships with our dogs.

      Sorry for the brain hurt. 🙂 But I look forward to someday reading your own spin when you’re inspired to write a post spurred by your musings.

  18. Clearly this person has never met Honey! We love reading good dog stories, especially Honey’s. Even though Honey’s a good dog, there are still challenges she faces and I love reading about her life as a boat dog. However, I will say that as far as living with a dog goes, I would prefer a “bad” dog because I think they really need someone who understands them and I enjoy working through the challenges–after living with Barley, I’m not sure I’d know what to do with myself living with a “good” dog.

  19. Though your title has some merit – I find blogs about easy dogs i.e. Honey just as interesting. I find reading stories about dogs who get into far more mischief than Jax entertaining, but I also learn so much from dogs like Honey who accomplish what sounds like impossible tasks such as learning to walk a plank 🙂 I guess I like them all – and find none of them boring.

  20. I agree with you – every dog has a story. And trying to understand that story and tell ours back is how we live with and love our dogs. There are volumes in each tilt of the head and wag of the tail and if you know how to listen, you will hear it. And if you can write and share it, dog lovers want to know. Just my 2 cents.

  21. I love telling silly stories about things my dogs do but, on the flip side, there are things I get nervous about posting. People can be so judgemental, and I sometimes feel like being a voice, however small of one, in the pet community puts this extra pressure on me to have ‘perfect’ dogs.

    I think this is one reason I like reading about “bad” pets. I know the courage it can take for owners to put themselves out there like that – to admit that their pets aren’t perfect and deal with the potential backlash that sometimes comes from being open and honest.

    But I don’t find easy dogs boring at all! Some of my favorite blogs are about dogs that sound so much easier to deal with than my own. I also agree that every animal has a story. There is that certain challenge that comes with sharing our lives with animals that I think every pet owner understands, whether their pets are trouble makers or not!

  22. I love reading about all dogs, the good, the bad and the ugly. There’s a bit of camaraderie between dog-parents who have bad dogs, that it is nice to know that there are other people out there that are struggling to get their footing in. On the other hand, I love reading about good dogs because well I am always wondering “What is it like to have a “good” dog?” I find it calming to read that there are people out there who are having a much easier time than I am.
    But more importantly, I love how passionate other dog people are about their dog(s). When I talk to my friends, people who are not dog people, they don’t understand. They just think it’s just a dog. But for a lot of us our dogs are out life. And whether you have a good or bad dog you still love them unconditionally in order to write a blog post about them, let alone a whole blog about them!