Apart from sleeping, and occasionally tearing up the house and pissing on the floor, what exactly constitutes a dog’s life at home while its owner is gone? It’s perfectly possible that as soon as its master leaves the house, an otherwise tranquil dog’s mask slips, and they get into all manner of shenanigans. This is what Dutch animator Pieter Vandenabeele explores in his animated short A Dog’s Life (Hondenleven, in Dutch).
When his master leaves the house, the main character leads a rather active life. It becomes bipedal, plays chess against itself, and watches the news. Vandenabeele keeps things simple with a clever triptych arrangement, where the middle frame is the house, the left is the exterior world, and the right frame showcases the various television programs the dog watches. And when the dog is able to leave the house, he gets a taste of the human world that was never accessible in his home.
“I wanted to tell a story about how people sometimes pretend to be someone else and put on a mask everyday,” Vandenabeele tells The Creators Project. “I thought the relationship between a dog and his master could be a fun way to tell this story. The dog clearly only acts like a dog when his master is at home, and the master also doesn’t show who she really is to the dog.”
Vandenabeele animated A Dog’s Life using TVPaint software because it allowed him to evoke the look of pen and paper. As a result, the animation doesn’t feel very digital.
“I decided to use three scenes in a single frame because it emphasizes the only three things the poor dog knows in his life,” Vandenabeele explains. “The small glimpse of the outside world he sees every time his master arrives; the house itself; and the television.”
“Maybe it’s also because I drew comics before I made this film,” he adds. “It’s just a logical way for me to tell a story.”
Click here to see more of Pieter Vandenabeele’s work.