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Applause, applause for all the entrants of this round of the Petlitzer Prize contest! You put us judges through our paces and made decision-making quite difficult, which is a tribute to the quality of the poems entered. But, alas, such is the nature of these contests, and not everyone can win.

Below, please see the 3rd-, 2nd-, and 1st-place winners’ poems. These will be read live on Dog Works radio on Wednesday, Nov. 16 between 9 and 10 p.m. Central time, and the show will be re-aired on Sunday, Nov. 19, time TBA; thereafter, I will post the archived recording on this blog for all eternity (or thereabouts) so all your friends and family members can have a chance to listen in.

Congratulations, winners!

Third Place: “Shilo’s ku” by Ron Palmer

A husky,
Second of three dogs.
On a walk,

she howls
acknowledgment to
all we pass.

Red and white,
she hopes all she greets
provide treats.

When back home
blue eyes, mouth laughing
stolen bone

Second Place: “A Conversation with My Cat” by Victoria Raphael

Oh cat, soft and beautiful,

you are so graceful…..

poised and alert, your dainty footsteps

tiptoe around my chair.

Your playful side emerges

as you chase the catnip mouse

until it slides under the cabinet,

then forlorn, yet utterly charming

your begging eyes plead for assistance.

I set my book down to retrieve your toy

just because I love you,

yet knowing you’ll reward me

 with some stolen moments on my lap

when we can perform our duet and meow at each other.

Dear cat, so full of mischief

you make me laugh as you run about

intent on cat business,

jumping into my suitcase when I am trying to pack it,

tapping me softly with your paw when you want attention,

or sitting by the table and eying my dinner…..

You always understand the importance of being “cat-ly.

Heavenly creature, so dignified and self assured….

I wonder what you think

as you sprawl across my quilt

keeping me from pulling up the covers.

Don’t worry. I won’t disturb your slumber,

even though I know you will wake me in the morning

with the tickle of your whiskers.

Instead, I will reflect on you, the beauty of your perfection.

and the purpose of your being.

You are friend and companion,

chair warmer, entertainer,

alarm clock, door keeper and often therapist.

Dear pet, the presence of your energy is mood altering.

In a difficult moment I can always manage a smile

just thinking about your cat antics

as I go about my day and the business of being human.

First Place: “Rescue Dog” by Lisa Sellman

I completely loathe the hours that I spend at work;

I file papers and type all day and my boss is a jerk.

My life was destined to be exciting, unique & thrilling;

Instead I spend my day longing for a job that is fulfilling.

I was a Fullbright scholar in my youth;

I was envied by all, if you want the truth.

My parents demanded that I attend law school;

Instead I became a mime and thought it was cool.

I adored Mercel Marceau and planned to be a star;

I stopped going to classes and told my teachers, au revoir.

My days were spent doing the art that I so adored;

Instead of reality, I lived via my vision board.

I only am now happy when I leave my desk at the DMV;

I rush home as fast as I can like a just released parolee.

My home is shared with someone who finds me perfect;

Instead of co-workers ready to judge my intellect.

I used to come home and my only friend was Judge Judy;

I now am languished by kisses from my dog Rudy.

My wit is amazing and my sense of humor divine;

Instead of a boss that hates me, I am loved by this canine.

I found him by accident while looking on Craig’s List;

I was taken with his beautiful eyes and could not resist.

My heart was so broken and needed repair;

Instead of me rescuing him, he was the answer to my prayer.

Submissions for round six of the Petlitzer Prize Poetry Contest can be emailed to me at any time, but the deadline will be May 15, 2012. See Petlitzer Prize Rules for more information.—Sid

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So sorry for the delay in my getting this review posted. Upon returning from Gunflint Lodge and the Wagalot Dog Lover’s Weekend, I was greeted by a week’s worth of work assignments and then had to head out to Fargo for the Fantastic Fargo Film Festival/ValleyCon event to promote “Attack of the Moon Zombies”—winner of the Roger and Julie Corman Award for Intrepid Filmmaking!

Now, much delayed, is my chance to say a big THANK YOU to organizer Lisa Sellman of Aloha Pet Care Service and the owners and staff of Gunflint Lodge. We had a marvelous time at this fabulous, pet-friendly lodge. First off, the food was incredible!! Their chef at Justine’s Restaurant on-site at the lodge easily equaled the culinary skills of any 5-star chefs in the Twin Cities. And all the food, three huge meals per day, were included in the cost of the weekend package. All we paid for was taxes and tips.

Anthony (L) and I (R) are joined by friends Keith Davis and Lori Soyring at Justine's Restaurant at Gunflint Lodge

Then there were the fun activities Lisa arranged, such as the baking of holiday dog treats in our cabin, where nearly a dozen people and their dogs joined us. Here are some shots of the cabin itself and our pooches checking it out.

Oliver peeks down through the oar-shaped railing surrounding the second-floor loft space in our cabin.

Oliver decides to come down from his "loft-y" perch.

Keely and Blanche keep a keen eye out for squirrels.

Ambrose snoozes on the bed while Oliver takes a nap nearby

Later on, I gave a talk about Pet Loss as Disenfranchised Grief to a receptive audience in the Conference Center.

Audience members take their seats before the talk gets underway.

Then we topped off the full day of events with a viewing of “Attack of the Moon Zombies.” As it turned out, Dan Moore, the man who is standing in the photo above, was one of the best friends of our director Christopher R. Mihm’s father, George Mihm! He was able to give us some terrific “dirt” on Chris’s 5th-grade exploits, which would have given us fodder for blackmail but Chris said all I could get from him was his “boatload of debt, a cat that pees on everything, and excess grumpiness” and besides, he’s proud of his shameful deeds involving drawing pictures of an illicit nature and photocopying them into little magazines for his friends to purchase. He dad apparently called this Chris’s “Larry Flynt Phase.”

"Whistleblower" Dan Moore and Kodi.

Lori Soyring (L) and Lisa Sellman with Jasmine and my Westie Blanche

Anthony with Keith, Lori and their fur-kid, Fletcher

Lisa's husband Rick sits next to Kodi and Dan. I'm in my '50s sweater and cat-eye glasses on the right.

Enjoying the B-movie

Blanche considers everyone part of the furniture.

Jasmine snoozes on Lisa's lap.

Anthony and Keith take Oliver's place upstairs

On the last day of the retreat, I performed an animal blessing ceremony. Participants tried to hide from the high winds off Gunflint Lake. (When you look across the lake, you see Canada!)

Some of the pet blessing participants.

Though we had a bit of rain the first couple of days, there was still some great hiking to be enjoyed in the Superior National Forest. Here, we wander along a Moose-siting trail.

Walking my pack.

We saw no moose, but Anthony found a 1955 Desoto carcass

In Grand Marais, we stopped by Gunflint Mercantile, owned by Chelsea Lueck (daughter of our friends Cal and Suzie Lueck, of Dad’s Belgian Waffles fame). Her fudge and candy shop was quaint, charming and demanded we buy a whole bunch of yummy stuff. Chelsea kindly offered to carry my book, “Good Grief: Finding Peace After Pet Loss” for sale and is sewing me a fabulous Westie apron for my upcoming instructional video on preparing raw dog food diets. (More on this as the scheme develops.)

My hair was a permanent mess all windy weekend, but Chelsea looks lovely here!

Finally, on our way home, we take nourishment (and a potty break for the dogs) at famed Betty’s Pies in Two Harbors.

Need an excuse to fit a glorious fall-color road trip into your schedule this autumn? Why not enjoy Northern Minnesota at its gorgeous best AND bring along your dog(s)? And do it to benefit an animal rescue? And attend a presentation on pet loss? And stay in a luxury cabin? And attend a Fox 9 reception with MA Rosko on Thursday evening with wine and cheese?  And perhaps watch a private viewing of “Attack of the Moon Zombies,” starring little old me? What are you waiting for? Make your reservations now! You’ll look forward to this weekend all sweltering summer long!—Sid

Well, I did it. The choices hurt so much to make that I nearly required medical assistance to withstand the pain! I was thrilled beyond measure with all the terrific submissions for this first-ever Petlitzer Prize contest and sincerely thank all those who submitted.

I should be downright ticked at these authors for making me go through the agony of having to pick just a few winners. Oh, crud. Did I type that out loud?

Congratulations to you all for your wonderfully creative endeavors in general and to those whose poems beckoned to receive additional recognition.

Next time, I’m assembling a whole panel of judges to help me bear the weight of these decisions.

I’ll include the names and poems of all those who received certificates of award here. Those and all the other fine submissions will be posted on the Petlitzer Prize link page, listed above. The top three poems will be forwarded to Dr. Robert Forto, host of “The Dog Doctor” blog talk radio show to be read during his upcoming broadcasts. I’ll post the date/time information and link here and on my Good Grief Pet Loss Facebook page when I have them.

Thank you all again!—Sid

*******************************************************************************

FIRST PLACE AWARD: LISA SELLMAN OF BROOKLYN CENTER, MN, FOR “DIVINE CANINE”

SECOND PLACE AWARD: PETER HAUTMAN OF STOCKHOLM, WI, FOR “NOTE FROM THE DOG”

THIRD PLACE AWARD: FRAN MENGAZIOL-ADAMS OF KNOXVILLE, TN, FOR “KATRINA ANIMALS LOST”

HONORABLE MENTIONS:

SUE STORMS OF EDEN PRAIRIE, MN, FOR “BOOKER”

AMY ROSENTHAL OF MINNEAPOLIS, MN, FOR “LOSING JAKE”

ANNETTE M. LARSON OF RUTLAND, VT, FOR “TELLING TIME”

JANICE BINIOK OF WAUKESHA, WI, FOR “FOR THE LOVE OF ALL CANINES”

And now, the poems themselves…

Divine Canine

My dog has issues that need to disappear

She is naughty, defiant and cavalier.

I have taken her to trainers and behaviorists, galore.

She will listen for a day or two but sadly no more.

I am frustrated and my mood is always black.

I am tired and the breeder won’t take her back.

With screams of anger, I yelled at the ceiling,

“Why is my life so hard?  I hate this feeling!”

Just then a soft muzzle licked at my hand,

She was the teacher and I listened for her command.

Embody the essence you seek in me

And we shall live in harmony.

When I am afraid be present and strong.

Loose your sense of right and wrong.

As I jump up on you and scratch your arm,

Give love to everyone and wish me no harm.

When I am distracted and hard to reach,

Caress me gently with hands that teach.

I am your dog but I will lead the way.

I will teach you peace without delay.

Breathe and let your troubles disappear,

Resistance may come, but we shall persevere.

All the answers of the universe are near,

All we have to do is choose love and not fear.

I knew my dog was special you see,

For she laid back down and winked at me.

Our future is glorious, for this woman and her canine.

Inner peace and stillness is now mine.

by Lisa Sellman, Top Dog ~ Aloha Pet Care & Dog Training

******************************************************************************

A Note From the Dog

When the freezer died
And the meat had to be eaten quickly
I was happy.

When you lost your job
And stayed home all day
I was overjoyed.

When you had your cardiac event
And the doctor told you to go for a walk every single day
I was ecstatic.

How would you live without me?

by Pete Hautman

*******************************************************************************

Katrina

Animals Lost

With all the tales lost

Among the rubble.

Broken trees scattered,

Covering the barks,

Pieces and odors of our

Hardest decisions.

The purrs and last licks,

Were received as final

Choices were made.

Too-familiar smells,

Little noses and paws,

Poking through to us all.

Those tender eyes

Can hold much more

Than the deepest flood.

For within them is the comfort,

The purest kind of love.

For those sweet beauties left,

Wagging, wandering and waiting.

For the moans and the cries

That are no more.

For those who are not found.

If you listen to the silence,

Pure as the day,

A mound of huddled tears,

A mass of hearts that say,

Their prints,

Will never, ever, ever

Wash away.

by Fran Mengaziol-Adams

****************************************************************************

Booker:

Booker

Beloved, bagpiping boy—

Barky boss begging biscuits, but bestowing bliss

Bearded, bewitching bachelor bursting babes’ bubbles.

Brainy, brave burglar burying bones below boulevards.

Bouncy bronco blindly bulldozing blizzards.

Booker:

Beautiful, blues-busting breed—

Behold! Best Buddy!

by Sue Storms

****************************************************************************

Losing Jake

There’s a hole in my heart where a dog used to be.

He’s nuzzled my soul and is now part of me.

His pain is his life and I know what to do.

But when I release him, I’m losing me, too.

The puppy I cradled three short years ago

is a ninety pound bundle of love, and I know

that he’d lick away all of my tears if he could.

It’s his sense of duty to make me feel good.

It’s my obligation to do what is best.

The love of his “master” is put to the test.

It’s a wrenching and sorrowful way that we part;

it doesn’t hurt less when the head rules the heart.

There’s a hole in my heart where my Jake has passed through.

When we say goodbye part of me will go, too.

by Amy Rosenthal

********************************************************************************

Telling Time

My old, cold cat

Follows the sun from room to room,
Even on cloudy days.

She is my clock.

by Annette M. Larson

*********************************************************************************

For the Love of All Canines

Whether fluffy, sleek,

or hairless skin,

Or blocky build

or cattail thin

Whether striped, spotted,

or large or small,

How can we not

love them all?

Whether bug-eyed, pea-eyed,

blue-eyed or brown,

Or flop-eared, prick-eared,

or folded down,

Whether coarse or curly,

or silky fall,

How can we not

love them all?

Whether spirited

or calm as night,

Or sweetly shy

or strong of might

Whether work or leisure

is their call,

How can we not

love them all?

For with their differences

put aside,

The same canine heart

beats inside

So faithful that

we must recall

We cannot fail

to love them all

by Janice Biniok

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