2020-2021 Youth Writing Contest Winner – Senior Category – Maine (Grades 9–12)
Judy the Shed Dog
by Michael Maines, Grade 10, Gray-New Gloucester High School
Judy was no skinny beagle. She was stuffed full of kibble on that cold February evening as she sat by the warm fireplace that glowed yellow and amber.
You see, Judy would eat just about anything she could get her paws on – a dropped slice of pepperoni, a few crumbs of cookie left on the floor, an ounce of fallen beef. The day had been blizzardy, so Judy and I had holed up in the cabin. She lounged on her tweed-covered bed for hours, as I flipped through The Maine Sportsman, wishing the snow would let up a little so I could get outside.
By nightfall, snow was still falling. I bunked in early, knowing that the shed moose antlers would still be there in the morning.
The sun rose. My tired face lit up with excitement; today was the day to go shed hunting! I clambered out of bed, shook Judy awake, jumped into my boots, and headed out of town. I parked hastily on the side of the roadway and trotted for the woods, my chubby beagle hot on my heels.
We searched all day, Judy’s nose leading the way. She had found a couple of deer sheds, but no moose yet. The sun was dropping a bit now. I knew we’d have to head out soon to make it out by dark.
Judy was out of stamina, so I led the way. We made it out to the truck as the sun nestled down behind a hill in the distance. Well, at least I thought we were both out of the woods.
I looked back, expecting Judy to be right behind me, but she had disappeared. The sun was gone by now, leaving me calling for Judy in the darkness. After several failed attempts to locate her, I had to call it quits, or risk getting lost myself.
Things were not looking good the next morning. The temperature had gotten down well below freezing. I arrived just as the sun appeared.
As I jogged towards the woods, I glanced back to lock the truck. In the corner of my eye, I saw a furry white belly sticking out of the snow, in the ditch.
“Oh no! Poor Judy!” my mind screamed. I sprinted over to the body. Reached down. Touched it. It was stiff. Cold. Dead.
“Howooooo!” a howling bark came from the woods behind me, as I pulled a dead, frozen rabbit out of the ditch. I spun around to see Judy baying and howling, teeth locked onto a massive brown moose antler. I could see a narrow path, zigging and zagging into the woods, left by the antler as Judy had dragged it to the road.
Judy sat a little closer to the fireplace that evening. She got an extra bowl of food and a couple of biscuits to chew on. Her big round belly protruded out in front of her, the fireplace’s glow painting it yellow and amber. Judy was no skinny beagle.