One important step – one that is easy to forget – in telling any story is to document it when it happens.
You can document a story by:
- jotting down notes (0n paper or your smartphone)
- taking smartphone pictures (or use a better camera if you have one)
- shoot video
- Tweeting right then
Pictures, as they say, are worth 1,000 words and they also make it easier to remember an event, a person or a family pet years down the road.
And photos can be great in sharing a story right then without much writing and proofreading. (Even Tweets should be proofread.)
It can be hard to remember getting out the phone and snapping a photo when one should have been taken. After all, we do not necessarily want to experience our lives from behind the iPhone screen. (Even though, plenty of people do that anyway to check Facebook, Pinterest, Twitter etc.). But we have to remember to document the stories that mean something to us. Whether we share them publicly on a blog like this one or on a password-protected WordPress site.
But what’s so special about the dog? All kinds of things. We’ve had him for 12 years and got him when we lived in West Liberty. He’s twice as old as our oldest daughter. And while this specific dog might not mean something to everyone, people do love pets.
People and their pets
One of the key selling points of the kennel we take him to is that there’s a human present at the business 24/7. That includes overnight! They also send pictures and updates (see picture above) by email. Very cool!
The Highway Dog
When I covered the police beat at The Gazette in Cedar Rapids, Iowa, in the early 2000s, stories – really any stories – about animals took off. People read them, talk about them and if there was a way to help they offer to help. I remember a story once about a dog that was hanging out on the side of busy four-lane Highway 30. He/she wouldn’t let anyone come near but also wasn’t leaving. Passing motorists saw the dog and wondered what he/she was doing.
I went out to investigate, asked officials and asked a photographer to get some photos. The theory was that the dog was abandoned on the side of the road and the dog was continuing to wait for its owner to return. After a few more days, the dog disappeared. (Admit it, dog lovers: This story brought out some feeling!)
The Ebola Dog
When Dallas nurse Nina Pham was treated for Ebola in 2014, her dog Bentley, was left alone and picked up by the local shelter. National news outlets, including CNN, covered the dog’s rescue, stay at the shelter and eventual reunion with Ms. Pham. The animal shelter at one point published an infographic on its Twitter account about the dog. Why? Because many people care about pets and consume these stories.
#Bentley here is the first pic of Bentley. He’s doing well. pic.twitter.com/yEyuAFbstu
— DallasAnimalServices (@DallasShelter) October 14, 2014
We care about the people and animals in our lives – and sometimes in other people’s lives. Just like our family stories, it’s quite OK to take photos over the years and somewhere document the stories and experiences that we’ve had together.
I hope it’s OK if I do that quickly here for my dog – Freckles:
We met in 2012 at a residence in West Liberty. Just a few blocks from our house. We knew we wanted a dog.
A litter of five or six stared at me. Which one to pick? That one. OK. Let’s call him Freckles. That name describes his look.
I brought a leash but he didn’t know how to walk on one, so I ended up carrying him home.
He broke out of an outdoor cement kennel.
Once he took a run around town by himself and was brought back to the house by a friendly police officer. Kind of. The officer wasn’t actually able to catch him, but followed him home.
Ripped up a couch once, ate his way through a wood door and didn’t really start slowing down much until age 7.
Could run and catch that ball thrown by me dozens and dozens of times. If he could talk he would have probably said: “Just one more throw” a few dozen times.
Wouldn’t leave my side when we moved from Cedar Rapids to Marion. I wasn’t going to leave him, but he was making sure.
Got along with our two daughters from the start. He often sleeps in their rooms and “protects” them.
He’s also been getting older. He’s had a stroke, tumbled down the stairs and has slowed down considerably.
Pets are definitely part of our stories. Many times those stories are good, other times they can be learning experiences for the whole family – in the case of a pet’s death for example – and other times stories (or pictures or videos) are just kind of cute. Why do you think cat videos are so popular online?