Congratulations to the winners of the 2009 Almanac Essay contest! Below are the submitted essays and names of the winners.
Topic: My Pet's Best Trick Ever
Our black lab, Bart, was 110 pounds of agreeable pal. He would follow the kids everywhere—especially my daughter, Wendy.
In the winter, Bart and Wendy would routinely ride together on a red plastic flying saucer, gliding down the hill that was our front yard. At the bottom, Bart would grab one of the canvas handles in his mouth and drag the saucer back up the hill.
The winter when Bart was 6 years old and Wendy was 14, they had been sliding as usual. One day, while Wendy was in school, I happened to look out the front room window. I saw that lovable mountain of a dog all alone sliding down the hill on the flying saucer. At the bottom, he grabbed the canvas handle, dragged the saucer to the top, and then went down again—four times in all. We knew that we had an unusual dog, but this sealed the deal.
–Jane F., Zephyrhills, Florida
At 10 years old, I should have been in school. That's where my mother thought I was when she heard the first faint call for her: "Mama!" She ignored it, but the call quickly became more insistent: "Mama, Mama!" She rushed to the living room of our old farmhouse, but when she looked around, I was nowhere to be seen. She tried the kitchen, tried my attic bedroom.
"Mama, help!" She ran to the back door. I was not in the yard.
Again she heard the call for help, and, to her ear, the voice was muffled, as if from behind a piece of furniture. Back to the living room she ran to look behind the couch and the big old oil stove.
Still puzzled, she stepped onto the front porch, leaving the door open behind her. "Mama! HELP!" came from the living room.
When she stepped back inside, the call came again—this time softly, without urgency. "Mama, help," said Turkey, the family parrot. Then he added his hearty "HA-HA-HA!" to the joke, having accomplished what he'd wanted all along: to have some company while his young best friend (me) was in class.
Turkey was quite the humorist.
–Petrina V., Ashford, Washington
My German shepherd, Duchess, was quick when it came to learning new tricks.
One day, I taught her to grab things when I made the motion of pinching my thumb and index finger together. My son was sitting in the den watching TV.
I motioned the dog with my thumb and finger and whispered, "Robert." Duchess ran into the den, grabbed my son's pant leg, and pulled him off the chair.
We all laughed.
It got even more hysterical when my friend Joan came to the house. My husband and I were standing in the kitchen and I said to Joan, "I taught the dog a new trick. Would you like to see it?" She nodded, and again I motioned the dog with my fingers and said, "Daddy." Duchess ran around the table, grabbed my husband by the seat of his pants, and pulled. With that, the top button of his pants popped open and the pants started to fall. I yelled for the dog to stop, as my husband ducked behind the table, trying to pull up and close his pants.
My friend laughed uncontrollably and then ran home to get her husband so that he could see Duchess's new trick, too.
–Ede A., Berkshire, New York