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Previous Challenge Entry (Level 3 – Advanced)
Topic: The Family Pet (05/15/08)

TITLE: The Problem with Tess


Seven-year-old Josh hurried inside looking for his father. He let the back door slam shut behind him and rushed from room to room calling as he went. “Dad, there’s something wrong with Tess. She won’t eat. She won’t chase her ball. She won’t do anything. I think she’s sick.”

“Okay, let’s see what’s wrong with her.” Tony started the washing machine and followed Josh to the back verandah.

Tess lay in her bed. Her head slumped over the edge of the oversized basket his wife Jenna had bought when Tess was only eight-weeks-old. It still made him smile every time he saw Tess’s Basset-sized body barely filling one side of the mattress. Tess’s droopy ears flopped over her eyes. The only movement was the gentle rising and falling of her chest.

“What is it, Girl?” Tony gently lifted one ear and peeked under, replaced it and lifted it again and repeated the process. It was a game they played since Tess was a pup and it usually made her growl in mocking fun…but not today.

“Do you think she’s sick, Dad?”

“I don’t know, Josh. You go finish getting ready for school.”

“I wish Mom was here. She’d know what to do.”

Tony tousled his son’s hair. “I’m afraid it’s just us…at least until your mother gets back from your Aunt Susan’s. Aunt Susan still isn’t doing too well after her surgery.” Tony stood and stretched. “I’ll tell you what…I’ll phone the vet later and see what he suggests about our dear-ole’ Tess. If she’s no better later today, I’ll take Tess for a check-up. Okay?”

“Okay, Dad.”


It was two o’clock and Tony began to worry. He had turned off his computer. Work would have to wait. His concern for Tess had intensified. “Hey, Tess. I think I’ll call Doc Frazer. You really don’t look well.”

Tony dialed the number and waited. Tess wasn’t much bigger than a rat when Doc Frazer first treated her. Tess liked Doc Frazer and he knew their lovable pet meant a lot to their family. Tony explained the symptoms to the vet.

Doc was concerned too. “Tony, it’s probably an upset stomach but bring her in and let me check her over.”

Tony placed Tess on the examination table. “Hey Doc, do you think she may have taken a bait or picked up a tick?”

Doc Frazer looked in Tess’s eye’s and throat and felt her abdomen before taking her temperature. Tess just laid there limp and quiet. He checked her completely over. “I’m not sure what’s wrong.” He stood back and pondered for a moment. “Her temperature’s fine. She didn’t whimper when I felt around her stomach and intestines. I can’t find any ticks…I honestly don’t know. I’ll take some blood tests and see if there’s an infection but she seems perfectly well. To me she looks…depressed.”

“Depressed?” Tony stroked Tess’s back and scratched behind her ears. “What would you be depressed about girl?”

Later, after that evening, Tony went to check on Josh. He’d been quiet since arriving home from school and had only picked at his dinner. Tony found his son huddled up and sound asleep alongside Tess in her basket. Tony chuckled. “Now I know why Jenna got the bigger basket.” He gently lifted Josh and took him to his own bed.

A short time later, he telephoned Jenna to see how things were with Susan, only to have to hang up before he had a chance to mention the problem with Tess. Tony had heard Josh crying.



Tony raced outside. “What up, Josh?”

“There’s really something wrong with Tess, Dad.”

Tony quickly checked Tess’s breathing. “She’s breathing okay but she seems weaker. You stay here while I call the vet and let him know we’re on our way.”

“Do you think she’s dying, Dad?”

“I don’t know, Son.”

“The blood tests are all fine,” Doc Frazer announced as Tony entered the examination room carrying Tess and Josh following close behind. “She’s definitely dehydrated today. I’ll give her some intravenous fluids overnight and keep an eye on her. Tell me, Josh, are you looking after Tess?”

“Yes, Sir. Especially while Mom’s away.”

Doc looked up at Tony. “Jenna’s away?”

“Yes, she’s at her sister’s. She’ll be back later today.

“Doc, is Tess going to die?” Josh began to cry.

“No, I don’t think so, Josh. I have a feeling she’ll be fine by supper.”

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This article has been read 761 times
Member Comments
Member Date
Marilyn Schnepp 05/22/08
Depression will get you every time! Such a wonderful, and well written story, with a real creative ending. Nicely done! Enjoyed the read.
Verna Cole Mitchell 05/24/08
I enjoyed this story very much. The characterization is excellent.
Holly Westefeld05/26/08
This was a charming and engaging tale. It's amazing how emotional our pets can be at times.
Debbie Wistrom05/28/08
Perfect! There is nothing wrong with this tender well written entry.

I loved all of it.
Jan Ackerson 05/28/08
How sweet! Dogs are so sensitve and tender, aren't they?

Here's just a tiny thing that might improve your "hook"--avoid starting with a character's age. There are better ways to reel in a reader, and it's "telling", anyway. Show us how old the boy is by his behavior and speech. What do you think?

This was very visual--I could see the poor sad dog drooping, and the precious little boy, frantic in his worry. Very well done!
Beckie Stewart05/28/08
I loved this story. How sweet. I have seen our dog depressed and so I know it does happen. Good job!
Lyn Churchyard05/28/08
Awww, poor Tess was missing her Mummy. This is quite a common occurrence, and you have portrayed it really well. Good job Miss Chrissy :)
Aaron Morrow05/28/08
I really enjoyed the dialogue, it was very natural and realistic. The addition of Josh sleeping in Tess' basket was a great touch. Keep up the great work!
Joanne Sher 05/28/08
Great storytelling here - I was absolutely engaged. You did an especially good job with the emotions, and I LOVED your ending.
Laury Hubrich 05/28/08
Chrissy, very good. I really liked this. Loved your descriptions. Great job!
Sara Harricharan 05/28/08
Oooh, good job with the emotions/atmosphere here. I sort of figured out that Tess was missing Jenna, but then I got worried with Josh hoping that she was all right. Good job! ^_^
LaNaye Perkins05/28/08
Your Tess was so endearing. Can I take her home with me? Great writing my FaithWriter friend.
Mariane Holbrook 05/28/08
As a pet lover, I can surely relate to this story. It is such a tender sweet story and so well told!
Peter Stone05/28/08
Excellent story of an animal suffering from something that is not fully revealed until the end, although it is hinted at early. "Jenna’s away" is the cause of the dog's depression.
Dee Yoder 05/29/08
Chrissy, I love this story. The flow of the dialogue between the father and son seemed very natural to me. Poor Tess; she's lonely. Even the dog knows that when Mom's gone, nothing is the same. I like the title, too.
Verna Cole Mitchell 05/29/08
Congratulations Chrissy Dear!
Edmond Ng 05/29/08
Congratulations Chrissy on placing third in your level! This is great achievement, well deserving of a celebration!
Lyn Churchyard05/29/08
Chrissy, congratulations on placing 3rd with this wonderful story. love, Lynne
Sara Harricharan 05/29/08
***Congratulations!(My dear Aunt Chrissy!) ^_^ Awesome writing! ***
Betsy Markman05/29/08
Very good. Nobody likes missing their Mommy!
Marilyn Schnepp 05/29/08
Contrats Chrissy! Great job and well deserved! (*.*)!
Shari Armstrong 05/29/08
Way to go!!! it was a really cute story!
Joshua Janoski05/29/08
Congratulations on placing 14th overall with this entry, Chrissy!
Norma-Anne Hough06/01/08
Lovely and heartwarming story. Our collie Sheba used to starve herself for the first few days when we were away. I could relate to this story very well.
Helen Dowd06/01/08
Congratulations on your 3rd place win, Chrissie. Your story is very touching. Oh yes, when Mama isn't home, nothing is right. Tess had the right idea. It is MOM who makes a home...Mom is a necessary element. Even a dog knows that. Dads and little boys/girls are for fun, but it's MOM who keeps the home fires burning...Great job! And good ending, leading the reader right up to the solution of Tess's problem...MOM!
Jesus Puppy 06/05/08
Ha.. A child missing her Mommy.. :D Way to go. Congrats on third place.