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Please see below for the winners of our Movie Dog Essay Contest, and thank you to all the entrants for your wonderful stories!

First place:

My Wonder Dogs 
by Morgan Avila

When I first saw the movie, The Call of the Wild, I knew that I had to have one of those large,1 magnificent dogs. When I watched the movie, I thought to myself, that dog, named “Buck,” can do anything and I want a dog that can make a difference like him. Well, I didn’t know what kind of dog “Buck” was at first, but then, I found out that he was a Leonberger. This extra large majestic dog made such an impact on me, that I was determined to get one. It took me a grueling 2 years to get my first Leonberger, but it was definitely worth the wait and I finally got him.

Leonbergers, otherwise known as “the Lion Dog,” are extremely intelligent dogs. We drove from New York to Maryland and started to work with the Newfoundlands in water rescue and he loved it. Then I started to bring him to dog shows and he loved to socialize. I joined the Leonberger Club of America and met some wonderful people and their wonderful dogs and learned as much as I could about the breed. We went to Obedience class every week and he amazed the teachers with his natural skills and won his first High in Trial Obedience award.

Chunk was his name and we had a bond that went deep into the heart. Wherever I went, my dog went with me, until he sadly passed away in 2007. But, two months after he passed, his grand nephew was born and he brought the light back in my life again. We named him Furion, from the movie, The Chronicles of Riddick, with Vin Diesel. In the movie, a Furion, is a being with extra special powers and Leonbergers have that extra special something. He would have to fill some pretty big paws his Uncle Chunk left.

Furion is now a little over 2 years old and he works on film and TV productions, as well as AKC dog shows, and is a certified therapy dog. He works with the patients at the hospital helping them to recover. He is amazing on and off the set and many directors told me that they totally enjoy working with him. He is unbelievably smart and trained with hand and verbal commands and can even cry on cue. We call him Diva Dog or Movie Star Furion. Furion walks in village parades and works in the community events and fundraisers. All the children in our village know him and love him. He has a sweet, gentle kindness towards people and he’s always ready and raring to go and do.

So, because of the impact from the movie, and my love for Leonbergers, I had to have another one. We drove across the country from New York to the middle of Wisconsin to pick up our new baby Leonberger. The trip was 42 hours roundtrip and it was exhausting, but worth every mile. He was a big fluff ball playing with his sisters and brother. We named him Zanzibar and he is now 6 months old. His official registered name is Prince of Zanzibar. He was named this, because his father is a very big Leonberger with old royal blood and we were joking around and I said he will be as big as an Island. So we picked a grand place to name him after and Zanzibar was perfect. Of course, we nicknamed him Zannee. So, now we have a new addition to our family and lots more Leo love in our house.

Zannee loves to swim and roll around in the snow. He has big feet and long legs and he’s at that gawky stage where his legs and feet enter a room a half an hour before he does. Zannee has started his classes and has already won a first place ribbon in an AKC dog show. The AKC has announced that they are going to recognize the Leonberger breed in the working class in July 2010, so we are very excited about that.

I was so involved with my dogs that my daughter, Karen, followed suit and now she trains and shows dogs. She enjoys it just as much as I do, so it has brought us closer as mother and daughter. We have set up a website for Furion and Zanzibar, so the children they meet can follow their accomplishments and stories.

Movies can impact our lives so much that it can change how we feel forever. I never thought a movie with a dog could change my life as much as it has. When you’re watching a movie with a dog, whether you are a child or an adult, and it touches you, that’s what I someday hope to do with my dogs. I want to create that warm memory a child or an adult has when they remember a scene with a dog that touches them.

(Note: This story refers to the movie, The Call of the Wild: Dog of the Yukon (1997), which was released by Hallmark Home Entertainment.)


The Littlest Hobo
by Kerry Wallis

“Reel Dogs Press is holding a writing contest!
We are looking for …”

As I read the web page I could almost hear in the background the school bell ringing. Oh, how clearly I can remember those days. The bell would ring, announcing freedom at the end of a long day of learning. All the children would rush out of the classroom and escape through the front gates. My sisters, my brother and I would meet at the school gates and race each other home —tired but eager to reach our destination, ready to devour a snack and hurry out to play. But before we would rush out to soak up the last rays of the sun for the day, we had one very important mission to undertake. All four of us would settle into our own little chairs lined up in a row in our lounge room in front of the television. Quick! Sit down and be quiet!

“There’s a voice that keeps on calling me
Down the road, it’s where I’ll always be
Every stop I make, I make a new friend
Can’t stay for long and just turn around
And I’m gone again.
Maybe tomorrow I’ll want to settle down
Until tomorrow I’ll just keep moving on.”

Yes!  It’s time for The Littlest Hobo—with London the Wonder Dog!

Our little band of fans never tired of seeing that wonderful creature (but I’m kidding, of course: creature is hardly an appropriate description for The Littlest Hobo—the most “human” dog we had ever seen) hop off the latest mode of transport that he had hitched a ride on, and wander into a new town. So often he was mistaken for a wolf, and we would hold our collective breath, hoping that the bullets would miss their target. But he was an intelligent dog and would survive yet another “near miss”.

Invariably in the town there would be someone in trouble, maybe lonely or unwell, and the littlest hobo would be on his way to find a new friend. With his gentle ways and his immense wisdom he would teach his new friend (and his many fans, I believe) an important life lesson about honesty, trust, perseverance or compassion. Having made a huge difference in someone’s life, and having created for himself a special place in the heart of that friend, and many of the townspeople he would touch along the way, it was time for The Littlest Hobo to move on.  Although the townspeople would want him to stay and be part of their lives forever, he knew he had a calling and was needed elsewhere. So on he would go.

“So if you want to join me for a while
Just grab your hat and come travel light—that’s hobo style
Maybe tomorrow I’ll find what I call home
Until tomorrow you know I’m free to roam.”
Woof woof

I cannot speak for other homes around Australia—or around the world for that matter—but I can, with authority, confirm that in the house at 2 Greens Avenue, Dundas, New South Wales, Australia, there were four young children sitting in chairs in front of a television, sobbing quietly.