Third Place: The Dog That Spoke Wolf
I bound through the forest, dodging trees and leaping over logs. Then I skid to a halt, panting, and look back over my mud-caked back and tail. What I wouldn’t give to have a good night’s rest back at Tony’s Italian Restaurant. The meals were as good as the owner, Tony, but a fire had sparked from the stove, and the whole thing went up in flames. I had escaped through the back door and run for my life.
I shake my head, shattering the memories. The furless that I encountered is chasing after me. I can hear him shouting, “here, doggy, doggy!” and muttering to himself. Stupid furless, what self respecting dog is going to run to a creature that has a golden badge? Every dog knows that one of those means trouble. My right ear swivels. Thunder rumbles in the distance. The furless confirms my suspicions.“Darn it! Storm’s coming. That came out of nowhere! Huh. It looked fine earlier. I’ll deal with that dog tomorrow.” As I hear him noisily turn around, I start looking for shelter. A few minutes later, I’m shaking my coat dry. The short time in the rain has cleaned my coat some, and now you could see that I’m a husky.
The cave I’ve found is fairly small, but at least it’s mostly dry. I want to take a short nap, so I circle twice and settle down, but it isn’t long before I am wide awake again. Something is crying, I’m sure of it. I wearily get up and call out, “Hello? Anydog there?” There’s a small yelp that is similar to the yelp of a pup, but it definitely isn’t in Ruff, the language of dogs. It has a more wild tone to it. Then a young dog crawls out from the corner of the cave whining pitifully. When it turns it’s amber eyes on me, I yelp in surprise. It’s not a dog. It’s a wolf.
I still can’t believe that I’m living with a wolf pup. Amber, the wolf pup, has grown a lot since I found her in the cave a month ago. Although I still can’t understand her, we’ve become great friends. Right now, we’re playing pictionary in the dirt, using sticks as pencils. So far, the game is a failure. For example, right now I’m drawing a tree. Amber yelps, then howls. I shrug my shoulders, since I still can’t understand her. She howls loudly again. I look at her and try to guess what she’s trying to say. I bark at her, and she starts to howl back when she suddenly shrieks. I turn around, assuming it’s a spider. A mama grizzly roars loudly as she pounds the ground with her front paws, sending spit flying everywhere. I immediately howl, “RUN!” and then I do a double take. Did I just howl? “This way! Quick!” I just make out what Amber’s saying, but it’s hard to decipher. I follow her flashing tail out of the woods and farther until the sun sets and the moon is high.
The sun is barely over the horizon when Amber wakes me. We slept behind a large bush last night, and now my fur is covered in leaves. Amber starts to lick the back of my neck, spitting out the leaves. “We should get moving. I know this place, and there’s good hunting to the south,” she says between licks. When I realize that she’s speaking Ruff, I’m stunned. “When did you learn to speak dog?” I ask. For some reason, this amuses Amber. She looks up from my messy coat and snorts. “I’m not speaking dog. You’re speaking wolf.” She snorts again when she sees the look on my face. “As I said, let’s get moving.” I stumble to my feet. “So tell me, how come I’m speaking wolf?” I say, not believing her. “Well…”
We’ve caught a rabbit. Well, more like Amber caught a rabbit. She says we should eat it. I say absolutely not. “Oh, come on, are we gonna eat berries all our lives?” She rolls her golden eyes and then yelps, “Eagle!” “What?” I spin around and one of the bird’s talons almost takes my eye out. “Your rabbit or your eye! Which one would you like to keep?” He thunders. Amber yelps and throws the rabbit away from us. “What? That was easier than I expected.” The eagle lands and devours the rabbit in a few swift bites. “Thanks for the meal-” Amber cuts him off as she bites down on his wing. “Ouch! You could say ‘you’re welcome’!” He gasps when he sees Amber. “You’re that wolf’s pup!” Amber almost lets go of his wing. “You know my father?” She looks surprised. Then she growls, “Take us to him.” “Okay, okay! Just release the wing!” As soon as Amber lets go, he takes off and flies south towards a large forest. “Follow him!” Amber barks. We both take off running.
A large wolf towers over me, his ears shoved forward in a posture of dominance. Both Amber and I have been captured by a pack of wolves. I’m losing hope of ever escaping as more wolves walk over and circle around us. Then Amber rises from her state of submission and flicks her tail. “River Pack has grown, Father. And I have returned.” In a husky voice, the pack leader who stands above me says, “Daughter?”
“All because of that grizzly, we found my pack,” Amber says. Then she yawns. We’ve been given a cave to sleep in, and Amber convinced her father that I should join the pack. “We should get some sleep. Goodnight, Sky.” “Goodnight, Amber.” I think I’ve found the place where I truly belong. River Pack, with Amber.
Anabel Bohlayer is a fifth grader at Franklin Academy. She has two cats and loves art. She is also a Girl Scout.
Second Place: Starting Over
Taking a step into the brown, squishy mud reminds me of when my Owners were there. I mean, you had never seen a better treated pup! They brushed my fur until it shone every morning. They would say my name, and no I never will forget it. My name is Lucky and I’m not ashamed of it, or anything! (Well except maybe the time I peed on the Owner’s new carpet…) Then I went out the window of the Owner’s car and got lost chasing a bird. That was a year ago, and now almost all my days are the same, going around the town sleeping where I can. Today though was different. When I was on my “rounds” of the town, an officer tried to get me! So I ran and ran and saw someone. I don’t know who she was, but she reminded me of something, someone. I saw the officer behind me running, so I bolted off like a shot.
I ran towards this girl, who had softness in her big, blue, eyes. “Here boy,” she called. I trotted towards her.
“This,” the girl said, pronouncing it THEEse. “This is my dog.” She rubbed the dirt off my fur. “My name is Silvy,” she whispered in my ear. The officer looked up, obviously confused.
“My papers say that this dog is a wanderer,” he said gruffly, confusedly.
“This,” the girl said insistently. “This is my dog.” The officer backed away, grumbling something about checking with his boss. The Silvy girl, she picked me up.
“You need a bath.” She took me inside of her house and put me in a large white thingy and put water on me. It was comforting. All the mud slid off, and I was surprised to see that I had white fur with black spots. I had had the mud on me for so long, I forgot what color my own fur was! She gasped. “Mama and Papa need to see you!”
“Who is this Mama and who is this Papa?” I wondered. They came in looking angry, but then they stared at me in astonishment.
“Lucky?” The Owners stared at me in absolute awe. And then it all came back to me, everything from the bowl I used to eat from to the happiness when they praised me. I ran over to them and barked up a storm. I remembered Silvy the best, even though she has grown. I felt overjoyed to see them now; but that officer was looking for me, for reasons I honestly don’t remember. The woman, or Mama, she was frantically trying to ignore the fact that the doorbell was ringing. Silvy put me in a basket and covered me in a blanket. Then they heard it. “Open up, we have guns and aren’t afraid to use them. We know that you and Locky are in there.”
“By the way, the name’s Lucky,” I barked furiously. The Owners opened up a panel behind their bookcase. We all got in.
“Mama the suitcases!” Silvy said from a little ways back.
“We may have had to leave at any time mi hija,” Mr. Papa quietly said. “I now realize that this time has come.” He stroked her hair. “It’ll all be okay mi hija.” He lifted the heavy sacks and carried them, and the fate of his family, through the walls. Mrs. Mama said this word in Russian that I think was meant to mean that they will be okay. Papa led us through the tunnel and then I fell, and we were all falling, falling.
We landed on a pile of hay, which smelled like a rat I had met while traveling the city. We moved quietly through the underground tunnels, stopping when we heard a loud noise. Silvy held me tightly when she heard it. We all thought the same thing about the loud noise: It sounded like a distant gunfire.
“We have each other, and a head start, so we’ll be fine,” said Mrs. Mama. We traveled through the tunnels and walked for what felt like hundreds of miles! At the end of the day, it seemed as if we had made no progress at all! We walked into the late night. Finally, we saw a light, the light of the moon, at the end of the tunnel. We had made it! Silvy and I jumped up and down when we saw it. We knew we were safe now.
I know I’ve learned a lot on this day that has changed my life forever, one of them being that starting over can be good sometimes. Even though the Papikansins (Owners) and I are different in many ways, we’ve each had a crazy journey full of starting over, both good and bad. Mama moved from Russia to America to find a better life. Papa moved from Mexico to America, also to find a better life. Silvy has been bounced around, her parents moving a lot. And I? I chased a bird out of a window, so I had to live in the wild for a while. I don’t think that was very good point in time, because I had left all I had known. However, being with the Papikansins is the happiest time in my whole life. Starting over together, in this new town of Summerzville, I know that even though our backgrounds were rough, we are here to stay.
Ella Nichols has been a bookworm for her entire eleven years. When she is not reading, she enjoys writing, piano, and playing outside with friends.
First Place: The Life and Times of Buddy
My name is Buddy. I’m here to tell you about a recent adventure. So, let’s start at the very beginning… I was born. OK, maybe not the VERY beginning. How ‘bout we start with last Saturday?
It was a beautiful, sunny, summer Saturday. I was hot, dirty, hungry and walking along the edge of a road, focused on The Important Thing so I wouldn’t forget it. Suddenly this van pulls over and out comes this man, acting real nice. I figured I should be nice back. Couldn’t hurt to take a break from The Important Thing and let him pet me. He started rubbing my stomach and said, “If you want some food, get in the van little doggie.” Now, I was starving, but something about that nice man made my tummy feel queasy, and it wasn’t because he was rubbing it. He unclipped a walkie-talkie from his belt, pressed a button and said something into it about a Code 17. Then, out of the blue, he throws this lead around my neck and started shoving me into the van. I figured Code 17 couldn’t be good and that it was time to run. Boys and girls, that’s just what I did, too. I slipped that lead, scooted, slid and rolled. I dodged, jumped and zig-zagged. He thought he had me cornered, but I shot between his feet, sprinting for daylight, leaving him sprawled right in the dirt. Mr. Nice Guy limped back to his van. Thanks to him, I was now hot, dirty, hungry and tired!
I found a tree to rest under and kept watching the road in case somebody else came along wanting to Code 17 me. After a while, I shut my eyes tight and concentrated as hard as I could on remembering The Important Thing. The Important Thing was the ONLY thing that mattered. It was my mission. I had to find my person. For a solid week, I’d been trying to do just that. If I could only remember the way… South, I think it was. I pointed my nose South and started off at a lope.
I suppose y’all are wondering how I lost my person in the first place. It went something like this: We were out walking when a chubby grey squirrel stops right in front of us. Squirrel-chasing being my biggest character flaw, I chased it. When I tried to find my person, I couldn’t. I guess it was my fault — but come on, it was a squirrel!
Anyways, I looked for my person a long time. When night came, I found a place to sleep. Days passed. I started to really dislike squirrels. I found what I could to eat and concentrated on the mission. One morning, I woke up in the middle of a wonderful dream where I was home, lying on my napping mat instead of the concrete floor of the garage I’d slipped into around midnight. In the dream, I was also chomping on a humongous chew-toy and sitting next to me was the prettiest poodle in the world. Wait! That was no chew-toy between my teeth. I was fixing to bite down on the leg of a massive Pit Bull! I wasn’t dreaming. I couldn’t dream up something this scary. The fellow who owned the leg was a rough dude. A jagged scar ran across his permanently frozen scowl of a face.
Pretty poodle spoke first. “Honey, you feel OK? You’re thin as a straw. Have some food.”
“Lucy, we don’t have no food for him.” said the scowler.
“Oh hush, Eugene, I told you I know how to get into the pantry,” said the poodle sharply. She pushed a box of dog biscuits toward me. One side of the Pit Bull’s lip lifted, showing sharp yellow teeth.
Next to a Pit Bull whose treats are being given away, a Code 17 ain’t nothing.
“No, um, I’ll be on my way.”
“Alright, but eat something first, please.”
I went for the food but tripped. My head jammed right into the box. I couldn’t see a thing. I knocked down Miss Poodle and sent dog biscuits everywhere. The Pit Bull growled, “I’ll teach you to bite my girl!” I lit out the door before he could pummel me, dog biscuit box sitting on my head like a stovepipe hat. Glancing back, I saw Poodle and Pit standing beside the garage door with their puzzled person who was holding a phone to her ear, talking excitedly.
I made tracks till I found some garbage cans. Old, cold pizza never tasted so good. A “hisssss” stopped me mid-chew. I was surrounded by cats. Lots of them. I’m not saying cats scare me, exactly. Well, ok, they scare me. But I’d had enough. I had lost my person, been shoved into a van, barely escaped dismemberment by a Pit Bull and had eaten moldy pizza. There’s a limit to what I’ll take! Here’s a piece of advice: Never sass cats if they’re in a group. Numbers give them confidence. It started raining, not cats and dogs, just cats. I was covered in them. They scratched, clawed and bit. I did what I do best — ran! I came to a creek and swam it for good measure.
The woods seemed familiar. I kept going. Then I heard it: My person calling my name.
“Buddy! You’re home!”
There he was! The Important Thing! My PERSON! Back home, we opened the fridge and had a feast. My person was amazed I wouldn’t touch any leftover pizza. After he made me swear off squirrels, I heard all about his search for me, LOST DOG posters he’d put up and the lady who’d called, saying she’d spotted me wearing a box of dog biscuits. We went to thank her and I cleared up that business with Poodle and Pit Bull. Guess what? I’m invited to their wedding and as a token of friendship they’re naming their first-born pup Buddy.
Becket Daniel lives in Athens, Georgia, with her parents, pets, and older sisters. She likes books, outdoors, swim team, Saint Michael, spaghetti, Avengers, and raising Labrador retrievers.