This week's post was supposed to be called Dogs vs. Spring, in the realm of my mind, anyway, but something happened this week that is still bothering me because I'm a crazy person and dwell on insignificant subjects, so I'm going to write about that instead. I can only hope you will humour me.
I don't have cable, that is a very long story, but I don't. So about once a week I watch a movie. I live in the strange, mythical, backwater igloo of Canada, and one strange and curious thing that just arrived here is Netflix. I have this.
A few nights ago I watched Of Mice and Men. Now, I have read this book, but it was a while ago. Anyway, (spoiler alert if you somehow are unfamiliar with this book!) the part comes along where they convince Candy to take his old dog out and shoot it. They want to do this because the dog is old, useless and smelly, or so they say. Then Candy can get a new, more useful dog, yay!
Long story short, I was disproportionately upset by the shooting of the dog, as was Candy. What is wrong with these horrible people? Candy loves that dog, you stupid goons! Can't you see that it is his only friend, his only love in the world? Can't you see that it is his only company, his only true friend? Why would you take the dog and shoot it? WHAT IS WRONG WITH YOU? ARRRGH!
See? Disproportionately upset.
This movie incident comes on the heels of a book I just finished, The Little Stranger, by Sarah Waters, (spoiler alert if you haven't read this book!). At the risk of hatin' on an award winning book, I thought it was okay overall, and only okay, but again we have an elderly black lab named Gyp, beloved by all who encounter him. Gyp is described in intimate detail, the adoring and adored pet of a fading family. Now, I'll give you one guess what happens to Gyp, just one. Your clue is that he is an animal in a book. What could possibly happen to Gyp, the elderly black lab?
That's right, he gets killed! Shocking!
The list of animals killed in literature is long, but Gyp inspired a rather motivated conversation at my fiction critique group which I won't bore you with, suffice to say I will make a concerted effort not to knock off a bunch of beloved pets as a cheap literary mechanism in my own writing. It's upsetting to those of us who are apparently way too sensitive about some things, and not at all sensitive about others. I have no problem at all with writers killing off people through various violent means, murder, torture, natural disaster, nuclear annihilation, and other duplicitous activities preformed every second of every day by human beings to other human beings. I don't know why it's okay for horrible things to happen to people in books, and not to animals and I don't really care. All I know, is that it is.
Perhaps it is because I am myself in possession of an elderly dog that is not particularly useful and does not smell particularly great, but days later I am still pissed off about Candy's dog. Maybe Steinbeck couldn't think of anything else, or maybe he really wanted to foreshadow Lenny's death in a particular way, but let me just say this. If anyone ever tried to shoot my old, stinky, useless dog, they'd have to take me out first. Is that going too far? Maybe, but I'm okay with it.