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Could you please look over my story and give me suggestions on how I could improve it. It's for my creative nonfiction assignment. Thanks It was New Year's Day in 2011, and I said to my dad, "I think we should get a dog this year." He replied, "What kind of dog?" I wasn't sure what breed of dog I wanted, so my dad and I began looking online for puppies available near us. That's when I saw an ad for Bugg puppies. A Bugg is a fancy way of saying that a dog is half pug and half bulldog. I went back to school the next day after being off for Christmas break the last two weeks. I had put the dog conversation in the back of my head and focused on schoolwork instead. Then on Valentine's Day, my dad came home around seven at night and said, "I have something for you" as he pulled a whimpering puppy out of his warm jacket. I remember the first time I saw him. He was the size of my hand, with chocolate brown eyes, brindle colored fur and a wrinkled face with a short snout. He was one most adorable puppies I had ever seen. My heartfelt like it had found an instant bond, and from that moment on, I knew what it felt like to be somebody's whole world. The puppy that I named Diezel quickly grew into a social dog who made it a point to introduce himself to any animal or person he saw with udder excitement. Almost every time I take him somewhere, I either get asked where I got him, or they are commenting on how cute he is. We used to live in a culdesac neighborhood that had one road come in to form a half-mile circle and then exit out the same entrance. There were forty houses positioned on both sides of the loop with tall pine trees in every yard. Diezel and I walked around the circle that made our neighborhood almost every day. I always felt safe living there with a dog until one day when I was outside with Diezel. He was right next to me, then all of a sudden, he saw the neighbor kids across the street and took off running to go play with them. Then I heard a loud smack and saw him fly into the air like a toy flung by a child. The driver couldn't stop in time to avoid hitting him. I have since moved to a quiet rural area. Not too long ago, Diezel and I were sitting on the steps to our gazebo, enjoying the warm sunshine. I carefully listened to him, breathing deeply in and out as he sat next to me. I sensed that day that something was not right. With each breath he took, the harder it was for him to catch his breath. At first, I thought, maybe he had a cold, but as the weeks went by, his breathing began to get worse. I knew in the back of my head that our days of taking long walks and playing keep away were disappearing quickly. Almost overnight, his persistent, painful sounding cough began. It was the type of coughing that warranted looking further in to. I took him to see his veterinarian who seemed to know more than what she was telling us after running some tests but only said, "Diezel's heart looks enlarged. I think it would be best if he went to see a cardiologist." My heart sank. My thoughts went back to the day he was hit by the car. I remember running as fast as I could across the street and scooping him up in my arms. I held him in the car as my mom drove to the animal hospital, thinking the whole way there, he's only been with me four years I can't lose him. They ran numerous tests and found nothing was broken. He was a little bruised and dazed, but he was fine. I was shocked and relieved by the news considering he was hit head-on by a car going thirty miles per hour. I was optimistic that everything would be fine when he saw the cardiologist too. We went to the appointment to see the specialist at the beginning of April. After we checked in, the technician took Diezel back to run some tests. A half-hour later the cardiologist came out and said "He was such a good boy while we did the echocardiogram. We were able to obtain the information needed to determine his diagnosis." Then I heard her say, "He has degenerative heart disease and pulmonary hypertension. Unfortunately, ten percent of dogs get heart disease, and he happens to be one of them." She went on to say that they were not able to cure either one of these diseases, but they would be able to treat his symptoms to ensure he's comfortable for the time he has left. I wanted to tell her that the tests must be wrong. He was hit by a car and had no significant injuries. He was too tough to die from heart disease. Instead, I said, "But he's only 9." After his appointment, I felt the tears well up in my eyes. I suddenly felt undone and lost. I know I have to resist the pain and replace it with happy memories in the days ahead. Still, with his Pimobendan, Lasix and Enalapril medications reminding of what the future brings, it could be a challenge to stay positive. On the way to the car, I promise him that he's going to get as many belly rubs as he wants and that we're going to sit on the top of the hill just east of our house so we can watch the wild geese in the pond below whenever we can. I dread the day when I can't get out of bed because my heart aches from missing him so profoundly. For now, though, I'm going to make sure he knows how much he is loved every day. Please, take my advice. Always treasure the time you have with the ones you love, even if you happen to get a second chance with them as I did. Trust me; it will never be enough.      

There are a few places I can give suggestions on how to improve your story. Consistency with showing rather than telling, paragraph breaks, and quick edits would improve this piece.

Expert Answers

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Your story is very touching. You show an obvious passion for Diezel! Overall, you do a good job walking through the story clearly; the sections specifically dedicated to the first time you saw Diezel and, although horrible, when you saw Diezel hit by the car, are especially strong descriptions. Also, your conclusion is insightful!

There are, however, a couple of things that I believe would help strengthen this impressive piece. Firstly, although many of your descriptions are good, make sure you are consistent with that strong voice. For instance, I actually think that you should begin the entire piece with the sentence: "I remember the first time I saw him." From there, going into your description of Diezel would actually give the reader a clearer picture of something happening rather than you just telling something. Continue to look for places in your story where you can use those immediate and detailed descriptions.

Secondly, although you may have already looked to do this, I would make sure that you have paragraph breaks in your story. Paragraphs help the reader a great deal in understanding the overall organization.

Thirdly, do a final check for spelling or grammar errors. There are a couple of places where you have the wrong word (e.g. "udder"). Also, you tend to shift verb tense sometimes, especially from past to present. If you're ever wanting to actually move from the past to present, make sure you delineate that to your reader. For example, you say, "The puppy that I named Diezel quickly grew into a social dog who made it a point to introduce himself to any animal or person he saw with udder (should be utter) excitement. Almost every time I take him somewhere, I either get asked where I got him, or they are commenting on how cute he is." This shifts a couple of times in verb tense. An edited product might look something like this: "The puppy that I named Diezel quickly grew into a social dog who made it a point to introduce himself to any animal or person he saw with utter excitement. Now, almost every time I take him somewhere, people either ask where I got him or comment on how cute he is."

Happy writing!

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