“Give Me A Hug, Give Me a Break” Wins 3rd Place in PetLitzer Prize Short Story Contest!

My story, “Give Me a Hug, Give Me a Break” won 3rd place in the recent Petlitzer Prize (Round 2) Short Story Contest. Click here to learn more about the Petlitzers, including upcoming contests. Here’s my prize-winning story:

Give Me a Hug, Give Me a Break

by Jenny Pavlovic of Afton, Minnesota

My friend Sarah in Virginia rescued Chase, a suspected cattle dog-collie mix, from a violent man who was going to shoot him for chasing sheep. When Chase first came to live with us, he discovered that he could get my undivided attention when I was, ah, sitting on the toilet. That’s right, I said sitting on the toilet. When I’m the only person around, I don’t usually latch the door. There’s a stool next to the toilet that I use when bathing dogs or reaching for high places. One day Chase pushed his way into the bathroom and put his front feet up on that stool. I hugged him and told him how handsome he was, and how lucky we were that he traveled all the way from Virginia to Minnesota to live with us. He ate that up (making up for lost time on the love front) and developed the habit of following me into the bathroom and putting his front feet up on that stool. Now he sometimes even does that when I’m standing at the sink. I used to think it was a sign that he needed a hug and would love to hear me tell him how handsome he is and how lucky we are to have him here. But now I know it’s more than that. If I’m having a really bad day, Chase might actually lead me into the bathroom to give me the hint, at which point I realize that I’m badly in need of a hug.

Bandit the Australian Cattle Dog has the habit of bringing me the ball, rubber chicken, or tennis ball bone when I’m sitting at the computer. If I don’t notice him right away, he’ll whack me on the leg with the rubber chicken, or drop the ball in my lap. He’s not a very subtle guy. After all, he was bred to push a herd of cows around. What’s one person? I used to think he was just ball obsessed, but I’ve come to believe that he also pesters me because he doesn’t want my fingers to grow onto the computer keys. He knows I need a break and wants to get me out to play. I call him my recreation director.

It’s the same deal with Chase, especially when he goes to that stool when I’m not sitting on the toilet. Chase just knows when I need a hug, just as Bandit knows when I need a break. They’re really looking out for me, aren’t they?

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Click here to read the other Petlitzer Prize-winning stories and learn how to enter future contests.

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