Ask a Terrier: Mark of the Hallmark

Professional Advice from a Licensed Dog

Hello, Budleigh!

Big fan of Hallmark Christmas Movies here. I’m excited that 40 new titles are slated over the holiday season, which according to Hallmark began in July. While Hallmark’s programming is enjoyable, several issues distract me:

1. July?
2. In their movies that feature a dog, it’s always a terrier.
3. Is that a union thing, terriers?

You seem to have your paw on the pulse of the entertainment industry, Budleigh. Any insights into why terriers rather than other breeds? Um…I’m asking for a friend. Who’s curled in my lap, sighing sadly.

Happy holidays!

Jennie C., her friend, and all the Whos down in Whoville


Budleigh advises:

Dear Jennie and friend,

What a wonderful tradition is Hallmark holiday movie season! My Giants and their Giant Relatives gather ‘round the television, laugh and cry, share memories, and, with any luck, spill food on the floor. Truly, a Season of Grabbing.

Like many of us, terriers closely identify with certain Hallmark movie characters.

As to the abundance of terriers in Hallmark movies, let me clear up a misconception. Terriers never unionize. Fiercely independent, we barely cooperate with each other unless in pursuit of prey or a criminal enterprise. Unions serve best for breeds like Golden Retrievers, Labradors, and other apple-polishers. Oh, and fish.

Although unaffiliated with work unions, terriers have made impressive inroads in the movie business in the decades since Asta first peed on William Powell’s leg. Today, these plucky, determined Canines can be found in every strata of the industry, from security to— Well, mostly security, although some are actors and a few write.

Like me.

Oh, I’m glad you asked! Currently in development is a Hallmark holiday movie script I wrote with the minor assistance of my intern, Per Se, who serves as thumbs. I know that many readers – Giants and Canines – dream of breaking into the movie industry despite those terriers working security. Scriptwriting, especially a Hallmark movie, can provide an easy back door into the profession for Giants and a convenient doggie door for Canines.

Begin by creating an appropriate Hallmark Movie Title. Such a title is warm, welcoming, cute, nonjudgmental, nonpolitical, noncontroversial, non-swears, and short enough so there’s room for a product placement. Generally, titles follow this pattern: “A (something) for a (something)” or “A (something) (something) Holiday!” where at least one of the somethings is mistletoe.

That’s it! You’re done! Put your feet or paws up, sip a hot cup of mistletoe, and wait for your check. Sure, you could write some scenes, maybe a bit of dialogue, but that’s usually done by a production assistant in post.

However, if you’re fiercely independent, plucky, and non-union like me, you’ll prefer to produce a complete movie script. Mine is autobiographical and a true story which I made up. The title is “Tinsel for a Terrier.” They changed it from my original title “Ho, Ho, Homeless” which trended poorly among the 25- to-30-year-old Giant demographic. And also working dogs.

“Tinsel for a Terrier” is a deeply thoughtful story of a shelter dog searching for a home. I’d be crying right now if Canine tear ducts were capable of responding to emotional stimuli. Add in the requisite Hallmark Movie Giant couple haphazardly orbiting each other; mix with a scattering of predictable holiday plot points; then bake in a 450-degree oven for 40 minutes and Arf! There’s your script. Here’s a preview:

GIANT BOY: “Look, Karen! Isn’t this the Christmas ornament that your mother misplaced when she moved out of your family home to care for your ailing aunt, leaving you saddled with the threat of eviction, even though you never complain and instead work to expand your singing career while caring for your unbelievably innocent 12-year-old nephew who, surprisingly, still believes in Santa Claus?”

GIANT GIRL: “It is! Wherever did you find it?”

GIANT BOY: “At the church’s Christmas rummage sale where I volunteer all year ‘round, as well as making substantial but secret donations.”

TINSEL TERRIER: “That’s my trainer over there! See him? Off camera, there? Watch him! He’ll give you a cookie!”

GIANT GIRL: “Thank you, Fred. And I never want to see you again!”

TINSEL TERRIER: “Hi, trainer! Hi!

GIANT BOY: “Why, Karen? I don’t understand, although I’m sure it’s obvious.”

GIANT GIRL: “Because I overheard part, though not all, of your conversation with your British butler with whom you mysteriously share a small but lavishly furnished apartment, when you told him that you’d interfere with my singing career. Goodbye!”

TINSEL TERRIER: “Trainer wants me to wrap your feet with my leash. Sorry! Do you have a cookie? Sorry?”

GIANT BOY: “It seems that little Evergreen has drawn us into an inescapable embrace, although he weighs only 17 pounds. But now you must listen to me explain the part of the conversation that you missed, which is that I would NEVER interfere with your etcetera, etcetera.”

GIANT GIRL: “Oh, Fred! I love you!”

TINSEL TERRIER: “Does trainer look mad? I hope he’s not mad.”

GIANT BOY: “I love you, too, Karen. Oh, and my real name is Frederik von Henrik d’Pufferi. I’m crown prince of the community-sized kingdom of Tinystan and heir to a lavish product-placed Lexis!

GIANT GIRL: “And I just learned that I’m heir to an enormous estate Mother neglected to mention. I love you…Fred!”

TINSEL TERRIER: “I’m being cued to lick you. Sorry! Gotta lick you!”

GIANT BOY & GIRL: “Oh, Evergreen! And Lexis!”

A potent script, right? But honestly, I just want to direct!

Budleigh

Want to read more about Budleigh and Life, if you could call it that, with a Terrier? Check out his new book, Sleeping between Giants, Book I: Budleigh, the Early Year, available in softcover and ebook.

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