This is the story that caused the problem: Zed’s Birthday.

As some of you may know I write for our local newspaper, ‘The Foothills’.

Once a year, at about this time, the paper runs a ‘short story/poetry only’ edition.

The piece that I submitted had been written a few months earlier and filed away. Initially, I wrote it for my own amusement and I was pleased with the way it turned out.

I decided to submit this piece even though it was a bit too long. If it didn’t make the cut, then so be it.

The story is basically a ‘day in the life’ of a dog. His birthday, in fact. It recounts the actual day, which brings me to why you are reading this.

The piece got published and part of it describes the walk we took in the evening. It was a large gaggle of humans and dogs and the telling of it went a long way to illustrating the way that this dog sees his world.

None of the other humans were named but I’m sure they would recognise themselves. I’m absolutely sure, in fact, as I just received a curt SMS requesting that I not include this person’s dogs in any more of my stories.

Say what?

Apparently my portrayal of them as being ‘naughty’ (the dog’s point of view remember) will only increase the public’s negative perception of their breed.

The reality is that they are badly behaved when they walk with their owner as she does not see the need to make them behave.

But whether they are, or are not, badly behaved is not the point of this essay.

At the moment, I’m not a very good fiction writer but I am passable at non-fiction so I thought that I was going to have to wait until I wrote the ‘great Australian novel’ before my friends ostracised me for putting them into my work.

I’ve seen it plenty of times in the movies so I’ve had more than enough time to prepare my ‘surprise’ at my friends outrage. But, frankly, I thought I would not have to bring my silent movie acting skills into play for many years to come, if ever, and now I find a friend outraged at the description of their dogs as being ‘naughty’.

I guess I should be grateful that she read what I had written.

So what did I learn from all of this?

Firstly, that people are basically crazy, and I include myself in that.

Secondly, no matter how hard you try to communicate clearly in print mostly people are going to read what they think you said as opposed to what you actually said.

Thirdly, don’t take people’s strange reaction to your work too seriously.

And fourthly, you cannot please everyone.




  1. This is basically a given in any life, but especially the life of a writer. Even if you aren’t writing about anybody, and it’s 100% fiction with no likeness to anybody, people like to satisfy their ego and find something about them in your work. Even if there isn’t anything there, they will find it. People tend to think that they are important, even when they aren’t.

    I’m liking your blog. Will definitely be sticking around, good sir (I assume you are a sir from the hair on the leg in the pic lol)


    • Yes, definitely a bloke. I’m pleased that you like my stuff (so far) and I’ll do my best to keep it interesting. I enjoy reading your blog also, and you certainly are prolific. Your blog has the feeling and the urgency that usually goes with a newspaper (I’m old enough to remember newspapers) which I guess is the effect you are going for? Thanks for taking the time to comment, I know you must be a busy person. Terry.


      • We originally started The Golden Vanguard as an online newspaper and entertainment magazine last April, but people just didn’t care. So in the past few months, we underwent a major shift and changed it to what it is now.

        I’m glad you enjoy it like you do. We definitely work hard to deliver content in a timely fashion.

        Thanks Terry


  2. Thanks for liking pt. 2 of How not to become a writer @ Walking the Cat. . .I enjoy your blog as well and wish you the best of luck in the future. . .


  3. Pingback: Zed’s Birthday | Understanding Your Dog

  4. Are you kidding? The best joke book I ever read was written by someone down under. One of them was a ‘stupid’ joke (because I can relate to that) about someone being late because he spent hours walking up the ‘down’ escalator). Anyway, talk about pleasing people, ( this is the link address to Renee Fleming’s Quando m’en Vo. Last I listened to her beautiful song on YouTube she got 13 dislikes, now she’s got 15 dislikes, in the course of an hour?


    • What a magnificent voice……….. don’t worry about the dislikes, that’s what some poor souls do all day?! By the way, does it seem fair to you that someone can sing like that and look like that all at the same time? Or is it that I’m a bloke?


  5. Pingback: Seen Better Days | araneus1

    • Thank you and thank you. Dogs are amazing creatures, and mine are keeping up the average. Thanks for taking the time to comment. I’m enjoying your blog as well, and there seems to be no shortage of humour at your house. Be well. Terry.


    • Very true. I guess the difference comes when you realise that your dog(s) is naughty but you do not know what to do about it. In our case we set about learning everything we could so that we could help our dog modify his behaviour. The lady in the story has got it into her head that discipline equals loss of spirit. I have tried to explain that discipline in a pack is essential (and expected) to the pack’s survival, but she does not trust my ‘wisdom’. In this case I don’t mind being ignored so much as I feel sorry for her and her dogs as things could be so much more rewarding for them all. But that’s life, I guess, and we all have to live it in our own unique fashion. Thank you for taking the time to comment. Be well. Terry


  6. What a wonderful story. I really enjoyed it. My son-in-law’s dog might be considered naughty, so we keep her on a tight leash. She “loves” everyone too much. I couldn’t see how anyone could object to any characterization in your story. The complaining dog owner had some nerve thinking you’d even put her in the story! She should be so lucky.


  7. Pingback: He Who Loves An Old House. | araneus1

  8. Pingback: Kookaburra sits……. | araneus1

  9. Pingback: I Like To Watch. | araneus1

    • Thank you for those kind words.
      Praise and enjoyment always sounds better in another language!
      This story seems to have ‘struck a cord’ with people.
      I wrote it out of frustration and disappointment. I was pleased that my story had been published and I thought that my friends would be pleased for me too…… hence the disappointment.
      Keep up the ‘travelingaround’, I enjoy your work.


  10. Hi, and thanks for visiting and liking my blog.

    You certainly can’t please everyone, can you? Dogs, on the other hand, are pleased just to be part of our ‘pack’ – it’s amazing the things that they will forgive us for 🙂


    • Hi Paul, yep, they are forgiving creatures………. I could, and will, learn a lot from them. I’m not a great ‘joiner’ but sometimes it is nice to belong.
      Thank you for taking the time to comment.
      Your photo of the rescue dogs in training is a beauty.


  11. Regarding # 4, I think it’s one of our in-built flaws / failings that we try and please everyone, even though deep down we know it’s an impossible ask!

    As for naughty dog owners, they are the bane of every responsible dog owner 🙂


  12. Good grief, your ‘friend’ needs to find her sense of humour and get her dog some behaviour lessons. That saying, my dog is naughty and the one who died in 2011 was even naughtier. But they are/were more clever than naughty — the schnauzer would wind down the car window when you were going 100kph. He was a chocolate thief too (no that didn’t kill him) who could crack a safe to get at chocolate. But they are/were angels on walks and good with kids and other dogs, and that is what counts for me.
    I like yous blog and your view of the world. Thanks for dropping by mine.


    • Thank you for the comment leggypeggy (excellent name btw). I enjoyed my visit to your blog (I’ll be back….. who was it said that?) and I’m glad that you like mine. My ‘friend’ and I have started walking our dogs together again which is good, I think.
      You sound like you have a lot of fun with your dogs. One of our dogs used to know where the window button was and she would stand on it to get the window open also. It’s quite a trick.


      • I have an absolute blast with dogs, and I think you do too. Good to know there has been a ‘reunion’ of walkers and your end. Hope it works. We often walk as a group of four people and six dogs. Cooperation is a must. Cheese and Smackos help too.


  13. Congratulations for having the story about Zed’s birthday published, it was a wonderful story – a dog’s special day is a special day. But I really can’t find anything wrong with the story. I think that it was written with someone who appreciates-loves-adores his companion, his friend, not just a pet. It would also be a nice story for children to listen to. I like it. 🙂


    • Thank you for your comments, they mean a lot.
      It’s nearly a year since I wrote about Zed’s birthday and at the time I wrote it just for me. I was a little bit lonely as my wife was away visiting our granddaughter and I felt like writing it down before I forgot it all. It’s interesting that you mentioned children because it is in the back of my mind that some of the things I write would be suitable as stories for my granddaughter who is about to turn four.
      Just recently I have started writing her letters (not emails but letters). My wife was there when she received one and her reaction was exactly what I hoped for (her dad reads them to her).
      When our boys were young (a long time ago) I would sometimes make up stories to tell them at bedtime, and in that spirit I have written a couple of stories for her (and her newly printed brother, just turned one).
      On your recommendation I will add this story to that collection.


      • How very sweet! So it was practically dedicated to your family and some folks didn’t like it. Perhaps because they have forgotten that they were children before…or some people are simply too cynical? 😦
        Nevertheless, it was a very sweet story. Your grand daughter loved it and that’s the most important thing. 😀 I guess you have a knack for writing children’s stories then! I don’t have a talent for it, so you amaze me. Wishing you a lovely Sunday!


  14. This looks like the same type of dog I took a photo of and posted on my blog several weeks ago. I saw a lady in the park–the dog’s owner–and asked if I could take some photos of it.

    Nice shots …..


  15. LOL. I’ve been thinking about how I will describe people I know in my books. I thought it would be enough to change their names and make sure they were mostly unrecognizable in their descriptions. But now, I see I only have to worry about how I describe their pets… 🙂 Funny story. And I love the puppy pic. Cheers.


    • Yep, you can bag their husband or wife but go after kitty and you are in deep s*it.
      I’m glad you enjoyed the story, and thank you for taking the time to comment.
      Let me know if you get any blow back from characters in your books, i’d love to hear.
      Classic example of this is the Woody Allen movie ‘Deconstructing Harry’.


  16. Pingback: What Are You Lookin’ At?? | araneus1

I live for comments so..........Please Leave a Reply

Please log in using one of these methods to post your comment: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s