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Petlitzer Prize Writing Contest Seeks Halloween-themed Pet-related Short Story Submissions

Animal-loving writers are invited to submit their pet-related short stories with a connection to Halloween to the Petlitzer Prize Contest by October 15, 2012. Winners will be announced live on the air on the Dog Works Radio Show on Halloween Eve.

Love animals? Love to write? Love Halloween? Animal-loving writers are invited to submit their pet-related, Halloween-themed short stories to the Petlitzer Prize Contest. “The name ‘Petlitzer Prize’ just came to me one day, as a kind of play on words, a sort of Pulitzer for animal-related works,” said multiple-award-winning author/animal chaplain, Sid Korpi, (“Good Grief: Finding Peace After Pet Loss,”, named “Best Book of the Year in the Self-Help Category” by Premier Book Awards) who came up with this contest to recognize quality efforts in writing regarding animals and celebrating the human-animal bond.

Winners will receive certificates of recognition and will have their stories read by Korpi on “Dog Works” Blog Talk Radio ( in early June. The first-place winner also will receive a handsome medallion.

This round of the Petlitzer Prize contest is devoted to pet-related short stories of a Halloween-themed nature. Stories may be fiction or creative nonfiction, 400–700 words in length. The deadline for submission is October 15, 2012 with winners announced live on the Dog Works Radio show on or around Halloween Eve. There is no fee for entering, but only one submission per category is allowed.

Here are some basic ground rules for Petlitzer Prize entries in any or all categories:

1. You must be the author of the piece. Plagiarism is an absolute no no!

2. Entries should not have been previously published in book form (on your own blog is fine) as of the date you submitted it. Meaning that if you get it snatched up by Random House the week after you send it to me, you’re still qualified for this prestigious contest—and congratulations! 🙂

3. Entries must be received by October 15, 2012. A winner will be chosen, aired and posted by no later than Oct. 30. (I and a panel of pet experts, including but not limited to Dr. Robert and Michelle Forto, dog trainers and co-hosts of popular “Dog Works” Blog Talk Radio show, will be judging the submissions.)

4. Please be sure to have a second pair of eyes proofread your entries well. Grievous typos/grammar gaffs will most likely disqualify you.

5. You may only enter one piece in any given round, but you may enter a different single piece in every subsequent category throughout the year. New categories will be posted shortly after the after the deadline is reached.

6. Winners (First, Second, Third  and/or Honorable Mention, depending on the number and quality of submissions) will receive a certificate of achievement for their efforts and have their work posted on my blog, Facebook fan page, Twitter, etc. (As well as on the Dog Works sites.) First place winners also will receive a handsome medallion. If you have a website, please be sure to submit your URL to be directly linked from my blog in case you win.

7. Winners will also have their works (or excerpts from them) read live on Dr. Robert Forto’s very popular Blog Talk Radio show “Dog Works.” (Air dates will be announced in advance, and the show will be available thereafter in archived form.)

8. No pornography whatsoever will be allowed. Nor will pieces depicting gratuitous violence toward animals (except for the purpose of decrying such acts or as truly salient parts of a story’s plot). I have the final say as to whether entries will be accepted. People of all ages and walks of life may be seeing or hearing these, so the work must be acceptable for a general audience.

9. Send your submission in a Word doc or pasted directly into an email with “Petlitzer Prize Entry” in the subject line, along with your full name, email address, mailing address, phone number, and a short (sentence or two) bio about yourself if you wish, to me at I will forward only your actual submitted story with your name to my fellow judges. None of your contact information will be shared without your express permission. They’re only so I can notify you of who won the contest and/or to mail you your certificate.

Sid Korpi is the award-winning author of “Good Grief: Finding Peace After Pet Loss” as well as a motivational speaker, professional editor/writer, actress and animal chaplain.



Congratulations to our talented writers who can proudly claim the following Petlitzer Prizes for their submissions to our Dark and Stormy Night short story prompt:

First Place: Elaine Garley, of Minneapolis, MN

Second Place: Liz Hartman, of Merritt Island, FL

Third Place: Kathi DuTilly, of Jeffersonton, VA

And here are those entries in their entirety:

First Place Winner by Elaine Garley 

It was a dark and stormy night, and my puppy was on his first camping trip in northern Minnesota. Just hours ago my husband, Teddy Bare the 10-week old Wheaten Terrier puppy, and I settled in our tent to enjoy the great sleeping weather. After a day of officiating at a white water kayak race, we were ready for some great outdoor sleeping. A slight breeze caused the tent to make flapping noises. Since it was the 1980’s, we didn’t have access to Doppler radar and had no idea what was headed our way!

Around midnight the tent started rocking from the winds and whipping the flaps. A loud clash of close thunder woke me.  The dark and stormy night was at our camp site! The sky lit up with lightening dancing across the sky. Well, I hoped it was dancing across the sky and not touching the ground near us. Since we camped in rain before, I knew we could handle it. Both John and Teddy Bare didn’t react and kept sleeping.  Crack! Flashing lightening and the rain came down in sheets. Oh no — reality started to settle in. Hmmm, a huge tent with a metal dog crate in a lightning storm. How wise was that?  Yikes, it was time to move!

I grabbed the metal crate with Teddy who was still sound asleep, my pillow and a blanket. I unzipped the huge door and stepped out under the awning. Then zipped the door shut. Was the van unlocked?  Crash, bang, clash, lighting flashing! The lightening provided wonderful lighting so I could see the fire pit. The rain came down in sheets and we got soaked in the 15 feet to the van. Fortunately the doors were unlocked and we settled in for the stormy night. Teddy Bare was calm and cuddly as he slept with his puppy breathe in my face. For a 10-week old puppy, he took everything in stride. This was normal to him.  I fell asleep on the hard rubber mat curled under the blanket.

Several hours later, I woke up to quiet. The rain stopped. It was a beautiful night with stars shining. I decided to go back to the comfort of a sleeping bag and the tent. I took Teddy Bare out for a quick visit to the woods and went to the tent. I quietly unzipped the door and stepped in. John said quietly, “What are you doing here?” I said I wanted to sleep in the sleeping bag. John laughed! “I’m on the only dry spot in the tent. Go back to the van!” So Teddy Bare and I went back to the van and slept until the sun rose. What a great way to spend a “dark and stormy night!”


Second Place Winner by Liz Hartman

The Thug and the Cat Carrier

It was a dark and stormy night, and my cat was hunkered down in the windowsill watching the thunder and lightening through eyes as big as the tops of tuna cans. How, I wondered, would my pampered house cat react to his first airplane ride and being ushered into the body of a large winged thing.

My cat is not your ordinary cat. His name is Thug. Why? He has been pushy and arrogant since he was a kitten, and he has not mellowed with the passage of time. However, he does have his moments of love and affection for me when he hears the can opener. I have learned to live with Thug’s likes and dislikes, because he has learned to live with mine. We live harmoniously in a home with various hiding places to accommodate Thug’s disappearing act when he hears the words vet and annual visit.

Close friends invited both of us to visit their new home in the country. To ensure an easy transition from house cat to airline passenger, I first spoke with Thug’s veterinarian and contacted the airlines.

My veterinarian laughed as we discussed Thug encountering an airplane. He was aware of Thug’s examining room antics, which consisted of puffed up fur, flattened ears, low guttural growls, and an overall bad-cat behavior. He said I could ease the transition by using perseverance and patience, and Thug must have time to adapt to the carrier. Under no circumstances should any pushing, shoving or screaming be allowed by either of us.

The airline representative explained a valid shot record, boarding fee, and airline approved cat carrier would be required. I purchased an approved carrier that could be hand-carried into the airplane and fit comfortably under my seat.

I arrived home with the carrier, and Thug greeted me at the door. I patted his head, scratched his ears, and placed the carrier in the living room. Thug began to check out this new addition to his domain. He carefully walked around the carrier stopping and sniffing every inch of it. He saw me watching and immediately walked away from the carrier, flopped down in his favorite chair (formerly mine), curled up, and went to sleep.

Thug totally ignored the cat carrier for the next several days, and I was becoming nervous and apprehensive about the upcoming trip. After day five, Thug and the cat carrier were resting in their respective places—Thug in his chair, the cat carrier still on the floor. I envisioned my well-planned trip disappearing like Thug’s favorite cat food.

I waited patiently for Thug’s curiosity to override his independent attitude. My patience was rewarded as I watched him place one paw into the carrier and slowly inch his body inside. He sniffed and shuffled around, walked out, ignored me, plopped in his chair and went to sleep.

The following day, Thug was noticeably absent. I checked most of his favorite hiding places, but I could not find him. I gave up looking for him, knowing he would grace my presence when he heard the can opener. As a last resort, I looked into the carrier. Thug was sleeping peacefully inside. I reached down and gently scratched his ears and spoke softly to him.

My patience and perseverance paid off, and Thug spent the next few days either sleeping in his favorite chair or inside the carrier. Trip preparations began. I finished packing, including Thug’s favorite cat toys and food, and went to collect my wonderful cat. I walked to the carrier. It was empty. I called for him, but there was no response. I looked for him, but he was gone, and I knew I would not find him in time to make our flight.

I stayed home with Thug who showed up after I had put the cat carrier away. My friends were disappointed Thug and I would not be visiting; however, I insisted they come and visit with me. I can hardly wait to tell Thug we are having visitors and they are bringing their cat, Spike. Thug may want to look for some new hiding places.


Third Place Winner by Kathi DuTilly

It was a dark and stormy night, and my humans looked just a bit silly crouched down on their knees peering under the bed trying to comfort me, obviously thinking that I was afraid and hiding out because of the storm.

I think sometimes they forget that I am feral born and quite accustomed to the elements.  I know that not only will the rain nourish the earth but it also provides quite nice puddles of water for ferals less fortunate than I have been.  It is nights such as these that take me back to the old building I lived in with my mom and siblings; we would huddle together for warmth and my mom would wash the dirt of the day off of us one by one.  She taught us how to find the best spots to stay warm and dry; and when the rain would stop and the sun would shine we would tumble outside for a little roughhousing in the tall grass.  Life seemed good and I am forever grateful to have had the experiences that I did because now I know how much better it can be with humans who have made me a part of their family and have washed the dirt of the day off of me for good.  I only wish that we could have all gotten out, but only the young are taken and brought to loving homes like this one.  For the older cats, like my mom, it is too late in their development to be socialized to people.  But thanks to humans like mine, I know that my mom and others like her in my colony are well cared for and that there will be no more babies born into the feral existence.  Now she and the colony are free to enjoy their lives knowing there will be a meal at the end of the day from people who will not hurt them, hay is provided in the winter time to ensure their warmth and if anyone needs special care, there will be help for them as well.

Sometimes, after they have gone to visit and feed my mom and the colony, they will come home and tell me how she is, they have even brought me a picture of her from time to time.  Sounds silly to you I am sure, but my humans are more evolved than most and believe that I understand what they are telling me….which of course I do.  I understand so much more than they could ever guess – we all do you know.  I am forever grateful to them for loving me enough to love my colony family, for making me feel as important to them as I was to my own mom and most of all for understanding that it is people who have caused the sad existence of feral colonies and it is people who must be responsible for stopping the birth of hundreds and thousands more.

Ahhh, such digression from the point of my story.  For some reason these dark and stormy nights do cause me to become quite maudlin.  Perhaps it is because my humans love me so much they are willing to risk looking quite silly just to make me feel better.  Hmmm, they now seem to be performing some type of stupid human tricks thinking it will entice me to leave my very warm nest.  But I think we all know how absolutely cozy the slippers of someone we love can be on such a night; it is one of my most favorite things ever to snuggle in with something that smells like the humans I love best.  Snuggling deeper….zzzzz….hmmm??  A different scent has just wafted past my keen feline sniffer.  Waaaait a minute…. is it….can it be??  Yep, TREATS!!!   Oh….fine….languidly I open my eyes, I stretch, I yawn….and ….out I go so they can “comfort” me.   Did I mention that life really IS good?


Hear the stories by the winners of the Petlitzer Prize writing contest read live on Dog Works radio Friday, June 17 at 3 p.m. Central time.

How hard can it be? Write a short pet-related story starting with “It was a dark and stormy night, and my [pet]…” Win and get it read on the air on Dog Works radio, get a certificate and possibly a medallion, and secure bragging rights! Click the Petlitzer Prize Round 4 link above for info.

Remember to submit your short story, starting with the prompt: “It was a dark and stormy night, and my [dog, cat, horse, etc.]…” to the Petlitzer Prize contest! The deadline is May 31. FFI click on the Round 4 Petlitzer Prize link above!

Tune in live online at 2:30 MT/3:30 Central (note time change) at Dog Works Radio with hosts Dr. Robert Forto and his wife Michelle to hear the winning stories from Round 2 of the Petlitzer Prize contest. This episode will also be available soon in archived podcast form both on the Dog Works site and on this blog on the “Listen to Radio Interviews” link above.

So sorry folks for my calendar snafu. The reading of the Petlitzer Prize short stories on Dog Works blog talk radio will take place on Friday, Feb. 11 (not the 4th as previously indicated). Oopsie. Same bat-time, same bat-blogtalkradiosite. (If you’re old enough, you may have caught that allusion to the original “Batman” series.)

I will be reading the winning entries of the Petlitzer Prize contest on Friday, February 4 at 2:30 p.m. Central time. Listen in live or catch the Dog Works blog talk radio show (with hosts Dr. Robert Forto and his wife Michelle) online.

New to the Petlitzer Prize contest: first place winners, in addition to a suitable-for-framing award certificate, will also win a handsome gold pawprint medal engraved with “Petlitzer Prize 1st Place.” Go for the gold, writers! Click on the Petlitzer Prize link above for the rules for round 3.

Whether you’re a Schnauzer’s Shakespeare or a Hound Dog’s Hemmingway in the making, perk up your ears. DogWorks radio is teaming up with animal chaplain Sid Korpi, author of the award-winning book “Good Grief: Finding Peace After Pet Loss,” in presenting the Petlitzer Prize contest—the pet-related-writer’s Pulitzer. Animal lovers can showcase their creative writing abilities for nifty awards and for the chance to have their works read live on DogWorks radio. Categories range from poetry to short stories to persuasive essays, and more. For more information, visit the blog page at and click on the Petlitzer Prize link.

Click on the Petlitzer Prize link above to read the terrific winning entries for round two, the short stories contest! Fabulous job, winners! And special thanks to all the creative writers who entered. We judges really did have to agonize to pick the finalists. You’re all deserving of praise for your efforts.—Sid

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