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Previous Challenge Entry (Level 2 – Intermediate)
Topic: The Family Pet (05/15/08)

TITLE: It's A Hard Dog's Life
By Joshua Janoski


My Stella's gone awaaaaayaaay!

She's left me heeeeere to staaaaaayaaay!

Won't throw her maaaan a bone!

She's sentenced me to die aloooone!

The sound of Old Ben's baritone voice reverberated against the concrete walls. A deep despondence could be seen in the bloodhound's wilted eyes as he belted out his bluesy tune. Night after night, the other prisoners lay silently listening to Ben sing about his lost love - a cocker spaniel named Stella. The only interruption to Ben's singing came from his harmonica solo that he interposed between verses.

Ben sat on hind legs against the cold wall of his cell, holding the small silver instrument between his paws. His cellmate, Petey the Beagle, lay sleeping in front of him amidst pieces of loose kibbles that found their way out of the food bowl.

I said she’s sentenced meeeeeeeeee…to die aloooooone!

The room’s silence stood out as Ben finished his melody. Bones, a bulldog occupying the cell on the left of Ben, finally broke the hush.

“You still miss her don’t you Old Ben?” Bones asked while scratching the skin underneath his spiked collar.

“Of course he does! Why else would he drone on and on every night about her?” CeCe the poodle snapped. She was Bones’ cellmate and was never a comfort to anyone around her. “He really needs to accept the fact that she’s not coming back for him.”

Words like that hurt Old Ben, but he never said anything. Instead, he just slumped down against the corner of his cell issuing a long drawn out sigh. Petey’s leg twitched as he continued to lay in slumber, oblivious to the conversation going on around him.

“Leave him alone, CeCe. Can’t you see that the poor bloke is hurting?”

CeCe stuck her nose up in the air and lay with her back away from the other dogs. Bones peered through the metal bars and into Old Ben’s eyes. Those deep hazel spheres told his entire sad story. Abandoned as a pup, he was forced to live the life of a vagabond. His keen sense of smell helped him scavenge food, but the scraps he found did not satisfy the hunger within his heart – the craving to be loved.

He found himself a master, but being man’s best friend does not work so well when that man is an alcoholic. The scars on Ben’s side proved that. He escaped the beatings and continued wandering from one back road to another. The chocolate brown hound spent many a night howling at the moon in despair, until something changed…Ben met Stella.

The cute little lady had wandered far from her suburban neighborhood and ended up lost in the country cornfields. It was love at first sight, and for the first time, Ben felt happiness.

That happiness was cut short after only three short days. Stella and Ben were trapped by the muzzles of the canine cops and transported to the prison that he now occupied. Stella’s owners soon bailed her out, but Ben was left to sit in the same cell for nearly a year, thinking about Stella’s last words to him as she was taken away…

“I’ll return for you Ben. Someday I’ll return.”

Ben was getting old, and sadly, no one had use for an elderly hound. It was the young pups that received homes, and Ben’s youthful days were long gone.

Bones took his eyes off Ben and looked up at the weak halogen bulb that hung high above the otherwise dark room.

Ben felt a paw against his side. The paw came from the cell on the right. Sitting there was a young retriever with golden fur that shined as a light of hope against otherwise unpromising surroundings.

“It’s ok, Ben. I got put here this morning, and I know that my master cares for me. He’s going to come bail me out, and when he does, I’m going to find a way to get him to take you with us. We’ll find Stella.”

“Puuuhleese! If your master really cared that much for you, then he would have made sure that he kept a tag around your neck.”

“Hush, CeCe!” Bones scolded. “Maybe the bloke is right. Maybe there is hope that someday we will get back home.”

Ben turned to the retriever and with a glint of water in his eye, he said…

“Thank you for caring, Kid.”

He picked his harmonica up and began to play again.

***Author’s Note: This is a no-kill shelter, which is why Ben has been able to stay there for a year.

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This article has been read 785 times
Member Comments
Member Date
Lyn Churchyard05/22/08
Wonderful story. I just loved Old Ben, and the thought of him playing a harmonica was just delightful; it really suits him. The voices of the different animals were just perfect and the attitudes fit them so well.
Oh I do hope Ben is reunited with Stella.
Well done, a really, really great entry.
Laury Hubrich 05/23/08
I really liked this. It had some humor and sadness and lost love all rolled up into what? 750 words, I would assume. Great job:)
Amy Michelle Wiley 05/26/08
Aww, bittersweet story. I did wonder how he could stay at the shelter for so long, so the postscript answered that question. :-) Good story!
Shirley McClay 05/26/08
Nice job of showing us! I could totally see everything... very detailed.
Chely Roach05/26/08
What a sweet story, and very well written. I loved the dialogue between the dogs. Well done!
Marlene Austin05/26/08
Very creative - you're really thinking "out-of-the-box" since you got that new car, aren't you?!? :) Nice characterization in this piece.
Joanne Sher 05/26/08
Lovely piece that was SO sweet - great characterization. I'm impressed :)
Verna Cole Mitchell 05/26/08
And here I thought they just barked. Very creative and fun.
Debbie Wistrom05/26/08
Loved the blues singing hound. Felt a bit like Lady and the Tramp meets the Aristocats.
Fun read.
Jan Ackerson 05/27/08
Oh man, I'm not a fan at all of "animal POV" stories, but this one just slayed me. The blues, the harmonica, the different voices for each dog...so, so, so good!
Leigh MacKelvey05/27/08
Way to write! Loved this! Again, your descritions were so good I could see everything. Kinda reminded me of Lady and the Tramp ... my fav Disney moive. This should do very well in the ratings!
Betty Castleberry05/28/08
You characterized each dog SO well. I can see this as a Disney movie. I really loved this!
Beckie Stewart05/28/08
I loved your Lady and the Tramp writing to this subject. Me thinks the Tramp needs the Lady to return! I loved this and it was so realistically written.
Aaron Morrow05/28/08
Excellent work! The blues playing hound was exceptional and the added details of his life added great color and texture to the story. Well written, it kept me very engaged. Keep up the great work!
Lauryn Abbott05/28/08
Great job, Josh! This was very entertaining, sad, but hopeful too! ~ Tracy
LauraLee Shaw05/28/08
Amazing and entertaining for SURE! Well done!
Sara Harricharan 05/28/08
Ohhh, poor Ben! I'm glad it's a No-kill shelter. I hope that he does get out and find his Stella soon and someday. This was simply great, the whole singing and harmonica bit. ^_^
LaNaye Perkins05/28/08
I love the voice you gave each animal. I also loved the way you give an animal POV about shelters and abandonment. Well done my FaithWriter friend. Well done!
Cheri Hardaway 05/28/08
Very nice job getting inside the old dog's head! Great characterization of the dogs' various personalities, too. Blessings, Cheri
Lollie Hofer05/28/08
Great imagination! Creative story-telling at its best.
Mariane Holbrook 05/28/08
How did you do that??? I'm so envious!! What a cute, sweet story told so very, very well!
Peter Stone05/28/08
Engaging story, which reminded me of Joseph stuck in prison and hoping someone would remember him. The only thing which I found distracting was the vowel-elongated words--I think simple italics would have sufficed.
Joanne Sher 05/31/08
Congratulations, Josh, on placing seventh in your level this week!
Norma-Anne Hough05/31/08
Way to go Josh. What an engaging tale. Really loved the different animals and am so glad it was a No kill shelter they were all in. You deserve your placing. Keep it up you are going from strenngth to strength.