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Previous Challenge Entry (Level 1 – Beginner)
Topic: Beginning and End (04/16/09)

TITLE: A Second Chance
By Kimberly Russell


Wearily he wonders what will happen next. Scruffy and dirty, the dog crouches in the back of the crate, quivering. Fearful eyes dart back and forth as if to ward off an unseen enemy. The day that began as a nightmare seems to worsen by the minute. With a whimper, he shrinks back, trying to escape his reality.

Reflecting on the last few weeks, he berates himself for giving in to the hunger that had landed him here. Approaching humans because they looked kind had resulted only in temporary sanctuary from the elements. Eventually they handed him off to some other people that kept him tied in a garage. At least he had been fed and warm yet today, they had shoved him in a cage .

With a bump and sway, the cage lifts from the ground. Off balance, the captive scrambles and panic sets in. Anxious voices escalate, doors slam, and engines roar to life as his sensitive ears scream for relief. Soon there's motion and his stomach lurches as the cage slides back and forth across the seat. The scene would be almost comical if he didn't have that sinking sensation in the pit of his stomach: fear of the unknown.

After a while, the vehicle stops and there is momentary quiet. Abruptly, the cage is hauled into the the blinding sunlight, causing its occupant to blink. A few steps later, he is lowered to the ground, the door swings open, and a man peers in.

Hey, Buddy, come on out, comes a soft whisper.

They gaze at one another then slowly a hand snakes in with gentle fingers to pat the new arrival. Tension seeps out of the weary little body and he noticeably begins to relax. Craving an act of kindness, he leans forward and hope replaces apprehension. Inching toward the opening, he wonders if it is worth the risk...

Hi Buddy, says the man, my name is Joe. Doesn't it feel good to get out of there?

Cautiously, the dog draws near and greets his benefactor with a tentative lick on the hand. Momentarily tensing when Joe scoops him up, he soon begins to calm.

Don't worry, Buddy, Joe whispers in his ear, We're going to be friends. I know you're scared right now- so was I when I first got here- but soon enough you'll realize this place isn't so bad- for a prison.

As Buddy curls up in welcoming arms, Joe continues in soothing tones.

I don't know what you've been through but we probably have a lot in common: unwanted and unloved, always scraping to get by. And certainly not trusting anyone. I'm a lifer and been in prison a long time. Learning to trust is hard but I promise, I won't let you down. Over the next few months, I'll always be here for you. Then when our time is done and you go to your 'forever' home, you'll look back and realize that this is your second chance- something we all deserve.... Joe's wistful voice trails off as he stands. Nodding to the guard, he heads back to his cell. Buddy trots along, deciding that the day couldn't end any better.

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This article has been read 663 times
Member Comments
Member Date
Joy Faire Stewart04/26/09
Oh, I could feel the dog's terror. And I found myself reading faster to see what happened to him. Loved the surprise at the end. This is one of my favorite this week.
Patricia Herchenroether04/26/09
I am familiar with this prison program and applaud the good it does for all concerned-the prisoner, the dog-in-training, and the recipient owner of the rehabilitated pet.
This is a nice entry and well-written; also, you describe the (no doubt) feelings of the pup well.
Can you tell I'm an animal lover??
PamFord Davis 04/27/09
Very interesting! I especially like the trust issue!
Pam Ford Davis
Bryan Ridenour04/27/09
You made me see how the dog really felt. This was very well written. Nicely done!
Carole Robishaw 04/27/09
This was well done, a good use of the topic.
Myrna Noyes04/27/09
This is a very well-written piece with an intriguing air of mystery at the beginning that had me curious about what is happening with the dog! Nice job! :)
Carol Slider 04/28/09
You did a very good job of conveying the dog's POV without making him too human. Wonderful, hopeful ending for both dog and human... well done.
Gerald Shuler 04/28/09
This uses a difficult POV to pull off and you did it very well.
Loren T. Lowery04/28/09
You have a real knack for engaging the reader and telling a good story that keeps the reader intrigued. And, I can't help but wonder if there isn't more to this story than meets the eye. An allegory of sorts. Anyway, great job...keep it up!
stephanie erickson04/29/09
Very enjoyable story. You encourage a love for animals even among us-that would be me- who are fearful of them.
Deborah Porter 05/06/09
Hi Kathryn. Im running a little late this week, but just wanted to leave a quick note to let you know your entry, A Second Chance, actually did very well in the Beginning and End Challenge. Although you didn't receive an award, you made it into the Highest Rankings for Level 1, placing 8th in that Level. There were a lot of entries this week, and competition in Level 1 is always very intense, so well done.

If you'd like to check the highest rankings for yourself, you can find them here:

The highest rankings are posted every Thursday evening on the Message Boards.
Again, well done. :-)

Hope to see you at the FaithWriters' Conference in August.

With love, Deb (Challenge Coordinator)