SJWC’s Best Furry Friends Group hosted the PAWspectives Writing Contest to recognize creative writers, inspire joy, and support two local animal charities, 13th Street Cat Rescue and Silicon Valley Pet Project. In 500 words or less, writers told how their furry friend impacted them or has been impacted by the Covid-19 pandemic and the past seven months of isolated living. Submissions were accepted from October 15, 2020 to November 15, 2020. Submissions were judged by the charities and we are excited to announce the winners:
First Place: Marina Birman, $250
Second Place: Lisa Wangsness, $150
Third Place: Millie Matyjasik, $100
Read their PAWSpectives below.
Thanks to our generous sponsors, who made this contest possible! In addition to providing cash prizes to the first, second and third place winners, we raised more than $1,000 for our supported animal charities: 13th Street Cat Rescue and Silicon Valley Pet Project.
BFF New Beginnings
Lisa Buchanan and John Blair
Betty Sleeth, in honor of my companion Jessie
Marion Hatland, for all precious ones that have passed
Lynda Sereno, in honor of my PAWsitive Pal, Lucky
First Place Winner Maria Birman’s PAWSpective:
“Chesterfield Birman-Bond Glover is a 20lb blind street mutt. Don’t feel bad for him, though, because he doesn’t waste any time worrying about it. Chet came into my life in January of 2011. At 14 weeks, he had already outlived nature’s plan for him. Born blind, discarded to the streets of San Jose and suffering from Giardia by the time he was rescued at 11 weeks, this dog had plenty of reasons to be grumpy. And yet, not a day goes by that Chet doesn’t summon the energy of 100 Huskies and the will of a stubborn mule and goes about his business of ball-chasing, barking at noises only he hears, towing the human at the other end of his leash, and snuggling.
When the lockdown orders were announced, dog walks became the highlight of my day, just as they had always been the highlight of Chet’s days. I started to more closely observe the way Chet maneuvers through a world of obstacles that he cannot anticipate with his eyes. He pulls with all his body weight into the unknown, taking each next step without assurance of what will be beneath his paws. When he undoubtedly stumbles over rough terrain, he quickly regains his footing and trots on without dwelling on that fall. When we take a turn from one street to another and he needs to be guided to change directions, he accepts the guidance wholeheartedly, trusting that the human on the other end of his leash knows best which direction to go. On this new street, though it wasn’t where he thought he was originally going, he finds new aromas to captivate his heightened sense of smell and he is a happy dog once again. When July 4th fireworks are exploding all around our home, Chet’s adopted dog sister, Roxie, hunkers down and pants in her crate. Chet, on the other hand, is the definition of unbothered. He happily trots along on a walk while other dogs look on from behind living room windows in horror.
Chet doesn’t know there’s a pandemic outside. He doesn’t see people with masks on. He has no idea how many have suffered and how many will suffer. With each walk, Chet reinforces the lessons that he’s been trying to teach me his whole life: (1) go boldly into the unknown, (2) if you stumble, keep it moving, and (3) when you’re being guided into a new direction that you didn’t expect, find new things to appreciate in this new place.”
Second Place Winner Lisa Wangsness’s PAWspective:
“A Poem for You (written because your Lucy is gone)
For her I am writing this because,
even though, of all my talents, poetry is not my strongest,
she has asked me to write for her
to tell you like it is, to tell you what we know,
that you so often forget
(although to her credit she did read a book of poetry once
written by other dogs and tried to find the right kind of message—
and plenty of them were sad enough and made her cry,
but none of them said it quite rightly)
So for you and for her I will tell you what we know
I will state the obvious
We know where you think you’ve hidden all of the biscuits
We know that the kibble is kept on the counter, well out of reach
How to appreciate the best smells, when you are coming home,
everywhere you’ve been
Where we left that last unfinished treat
Ways to make you scratch and touch every inch of us
How to touch your heart and break it, without even trying
Traveling to your house I know that you will both be there
The house is always filled with your scents, even though one of you is missing
Of course we know all of this without understanding any of it
Who needs to understand when you simply know and accept?
You are the ones who need to understand,
who need poetry and our help to learn and remember
that is why we help you and remind you,
because we go on knowing, uncomprehending, loving you, without end
Third Place Winner Millie Matyjasik’s PAWspective
Cuddles were well not good but
My name is Ana. I am a cat living in San Jose, California.
Where the weather is nice and well
Let’s just say the fears were high
Are the worst
Just because he is my brother doesn’t mean I’m his friend.
We don’t get along too well.
We were born in St. Croix
Very far away from here.
Trust me that ride,
Stuck in a cage,
Up in the sky,
Just me and him.
When we finally got out of there we were with a family.
Head so tall I can’t see it,
I know I can’t get mad because I have
Peed on the rug
Meowed all night
Sleep on duffel bags
And drink his water.
But I still can’t help but think…
What would life be like if…
He liked me
He pet me
He let me in his room at night
Let me be his fried,
His loved one
When she pets me it feels like I don’t have to be scared.
When she hugs me I feel like a feast is getting made for me.
When I got to territorial over Beau Beau
I peed all over her
In her sleep
Without her knowing until later
Slammed in my face
Never in the bedroom again
Stuck staring at the door
Nothing else to see.
She still likes me but,
Her love is not the same as before
Now all her love is towards Beau Beau.
When he picks me up
It’s like a nightmare.
A choking sensation that
Makes my throat
And makes me want to drink water.
I like it when he pets me though…
My own mother Millie.
I love her with the world.
But I am still to skittish
To be around her
Even when she was little and so was I
Her. Just her.
Cuddles are fine.
Love is huge.
And she actually cares for me.
They’re always at home.
They used to go and leave the house
But now they are just here
ALL THE TIME!
It does not seem to bother Beau Beau…
He loves to go outside in any season.
I only go out in the summer.
I hate winter
This has been fun.
You know talking to you.
I know I am just a silly cat.
But they also sometimes call me skittish.
Or an old lady
I mean I am 11.
So this is it though.
The final ending.