Marty and his puppy ShakiraModern medicine is discovering the remarkable power of animals to detect, treat and cure a host of diseases and conditions. There are Goldens who can sniff out cancers; others who can sense when their human is about to have a heart attack, seizure or panic attack; and, many who provide a safe passage in the world for the physically or emotionally challenged.

In his introduction to the book, Chicken Soup for the Cat & Dog Lover’s Soul, Dr. Becker wrote “Our pets lend a touch of grace to our lives. They teach us the real meaning of unconditional love and bring out the kindest and most generous impulses of humanity.” A leader in changing the way we interact with and take responsibility for our animal companions, Dr. Becker is the recipient of the prestigious 2002 Bustad Companion Animal Veterinarian of the Year Award, one of veterinary medicine's highest honors, recognizing the outstanding work of veterinarians in protecting and promoting the human-animal bond.

Click here to order this wonderful book!Surely, the Human-Golden bond is a powerful weapon in fighting disease and treating chronic conditions. This contest was created to showcase TRUE original stories, that with a blend of science and soul, demonstrated how such relationships had helped and healed people physically, emotionally and/or socially. And, it boldly celebrated Marty Becker's most pivotal book to date, The Healing Power of Pets: Harnessing the Ability of Pets to Make and Keep People Happy and Healthy. This book blends scientific discoveries with moving stories of people who have triumphed over chronic pain, phobias, sedentary lifestyles, and life threatening conditions through the unconditional love and companionship of a loyal animal companion. It also provides a step-by-step guide on how to deepen the relationships with our companion animals for the benefit of everyone.

Dr. Marty, a Labrador Retriever lover from way back, recently went Gold as reflected in this April 6, 2003 post that I received: "You'd better sit down Rochelle. We're getting a Golden!" He added that she's the last of a litter of 15, and that simultaneously, the family was looking for an older brother for her at the local shelter. The wonderful photo above of puppy Shakira was taken by Drexel Love.

So Many Wonderful Prizes!
Thirty persons provided entries for this contest, the winners announced on March 28, 2003. Our 1st, 2nd & 3rd place story writers each received a signed and personalized copy of The Healing Power of Pets and one of these three original Michael Johnson paintings.

"Follow us to see more of Michael's wonderful work!"      "Follow us to see more of Michael's wonderful work!"        "Follow us to see more of Michael's wonderful work!"

Our 4th through 6th place story writers received one of these wonderful Debi DeNardi Limited Edition numbered prints and one of Dr. Becker's publications.


Five Honorable Mentions each received one of Dr. Becker's publications. And, two special winners also shared some healthy Simon & Huey treats with their Golden kids.

Each participant was recognized by being presented with a Golden Healing Power Contest Certificate.  This is actually Golden Bello with his Mom Lori's Award for participating in our contest. Now, is this too cute or what?



Learn More about the Contest

     Contest Rules           Scoring Criteria         The Write Stuff             Contest Entries   

Meet our Prize Winners

First Place:  Alice Johnson for, "Alice & Abel (and 4 other CCI puppies)"

Rochelle, I am in shock! Thank you so very much! It was very therapeutic and maybe since it will remain on the website, some other people will be interested in either puppy raising or volunteering in some way, donating, or maybe even someone who didn't even realize they needed a wonderful canine companion will look into one. Thank you again for all you do and for your beautiful website.  ─ Alice & Abel

Alice has chosen to donate her Michael Johnson watercolor to CCI to be used to raise monies. As she commented to me, "It seems fitting since they played such a huge part in the change in my life." So, I approached Debi DeNardi and she of course was more than happy to provide this Peek-a-Boo Signed and Numbered Limited Edition Print for Alice.

Second Place:: Teresa Robinson for, "Each Golden has a Silver Lining"

Rochelle, We are honored to be a part of this very heartfelt project. Bringing people just a little more in touch with the wonderful healing love of our wonderful gift in Goldens, is indeed the goal for all of us who entered. In our eyes, anyone who is loved by a Golden Angel in their life is a winner. Thank you, for all you do to encourage and share that love with the world. That's what it's all about.

I just really must tell you, how nice this award is. You did such a terrific job with them. I just received mine, and the darling painting...which, by the way, looks sooooo much like Emma, and I'm going right down to find frames today. They are going to look terrific on my 'Therapy Dog' wall at work! The students are going to love this painting! Be sure and tell Michael how much we love it! Everyone always comes in to check out my wall about Emma. This is a perfect addition for the school. It looks like Michael painted Emma on the job! Please tell Michael thank you for his beautiful work.

The book arrived as well, which is a terrific book, and it was so nice of Dr. Marty to write inside. It will be a wonderful memory, always, of my Emma Girl. You put so much work into the contest, and it was just inspiring to read the fabulous, and heart touching stories. I shared them with our entire Helping Paws List and beyond. Thank you again, for all you do, it expands G-d's love far beyond where we can ever imagine. Teresa and Miss Em

Third Place:  Lore Heavilin for, "Golden Therapy"

Rochelle, Thank you so very much. I do not consider myself a writer. So it must be the relationship that made the story work. Lore

UPDATE  Sadly, we must tell you that the very special relationship between toddler Trisha and Golden Cody, so detailed in this story entry, has come to an end. Born with quite serious medical problems that included spina bifida, cerebral palsy, and epilepsy, Trisha recently experienced serious complications from a kidney infection that resulted in her being taken from us on April 29, 2003. The following is a message that Lore provided to Heartland Golden Retriever Rescue, the wonderful group that provided Golden Cody to her family.

"We had to pull a lot of strings to get this to happen. They actually had to take it to the upper board of Children's Hospital. Fortunately there is a big dog lover on that board. So the visit got passed as long as all the other parents in the ICU ward were willing to let it happen and as long as no one had any dog allergies.

Now the ward was quite full. There was a great chance that someone had allergies to dogs. Praise G-d no one did. He had to come up the back elevator and only had a 15 minute visit. When we went in to see Trisha he immediately went to her bed and looked at the chair we had there for him to get on so he could be by her. He has never thought of getting on any furniture in our house so he was hesitant to do that.

My sister put him up on the chair. He put his paw on Trisha's bed by her foot the only free spot on her little body. We put her foot on his paw and her blood pressure and heart rate went up. She knew he was there with her. After awhile Cody took his foot down, looked at all the IV and med lines that were hooked to Trisha, the pumps they were attached to, and then went back at Trisha. Then he looked at the respirator and back at Trisha. Finally he looked at the monitor that had her vital signs on it and then looked at Trisha. After that he had a very sad look on his face and kissed her foot. Then he kept trying to inch his way closer to Trisha. Only he could not get any closer. So he decided fine, I will just curl up her on this chair and wait with her. When his visit time was up he reluctantly left her side.

He is sad but at peace with it. When he got home yesterday our house was full of people. He went to Trisha's room and laid on his bed next to her bed for a little while. Then he came out and greeted all those that were here for us. He is one very special dog with a huge sensitive heart. Thank you Heartland for helping us with this precious match."

Fourth Place:  Rebecca Kragnes for, "More than a Guide"

Rochelle, I never expected that I would place so highly, but I reread my entry last night and am pretty proud of it. I'll look forward to the personalized book and the award certificate. I'll probably have my reader read some of the book each week we get together.  ─ Rebecca

Fifth Place:  Mike Chytracek for, "Messenger From Above"

You know, this really chokes me up. All I really did was tell folks about my Jordan. He's the true winner here. All the credit really goes to him. I'm going to read Dr. Becker's book to him like the kids do on one of the articles that I read on your site. Jordan is always by my side and really pays attention, something that has to be seen to be believed. Again, many heartfelt thanks to you Rochelle, and Dr. Marty Becker. We will treasure this forever. Mike & Golden Jordan

Sixth Place:  Karen Mier for, "My Little Golden Ambassador"

Rochelle, wow, we are honored to be selected among the winners. I knew from the start when I adopted that little blind 8-week-old pup she would be very special. It has been a joy to share my Kaytee with folks, to let them see how happy and full a life can still be lead with a disability.  Karen Mier & 'Special K'

Honorable Mention:  Suzi Beber for, "There Will Always be Smiling Blue Skies"

Rochelle, thanks so much for your note. It seems very fitting, that I would find this out on the second anniversary of losing my beloved Blues. It keeps his memory alive, and I am glad, that I shared the story with my father, who celebrated his 75th birthday today. I will look forward to receiving my book!  ─ Suzi

Honorable Mention:  Isabelle Cully Bruce for, "You Are The One"

Thank you Rochelle, Yes, Isabelle will be smiling down on us all. And as of last week, "Bay" too will be smiling with her. She crossed the bridge and is romping along with her beloved Isabelle. I was so very blessed to have them both in my life and from now on as guardian angels. Thank you for letting me share their story, and honoring them in this way.  
Pat Lawson  

Honorable Mention:  Janis R. Musante for, "My Golden Nurses"

Wow, I can't believe it. Rochelle, every time, I get down and wonder what life is really about for me, you do something like this and rekindle my soul. Again, G-d didn't just make dogs and then perfect them with Goldens, he made people and perfected them with folks like you. Thank you.  Janis

Honorable Mention:  Neal C. Jennings for, "Sweet Encounters of a Golden Kind"
Honorable Mention:  Ruth Kluetz for, "Joe's Friend, Buddy"


Contest Rules
TO ENTER: Each contestant may submit one composition only. This composition is to : (1) Be written in English; (2) Be no more than 3,000 words in length; (3) Include a title; and, (4) Be written in appropriate mixed case (i.e., not all in upper case letters). Entries MUST be original, truthful to the best knowledge of the person submitting it (i.e., the events detailed in the piece actually took place), unpublished or unproduced (on web or paper media), and not accepted by any other publisher at the time of submission.

GRANT OF RIGHTS: By entering the 'Healing Power of Gold Storywriting Contest' you hereby grant to a worldwide, royalty free license to reproduce, publish, display, and distribute your Story/Essay in any manner or means, now or hereinafter invented, including creating derivative works from your Story/Essay.

PRIZES: Prizes will be mailed to winners via regular U.S. postal service or priority mail within a week of their posting on this page. No substitute of the offered prize will be given.




Scoring Criteria

  • Ideas and Content: Does the writer demonstrate an intelligent vision of  the topic? Does the writer present convincing information to support the central premise of the story/essay? Are the supporting ideas & examples appropriate for the topic? Is there some evidence of research to accompany the personal aspects of the story/essay?
  • Originality and Community Contribution: Does the writer convey a commitment to canine welfare or present an example that is set for others to emulate, etc.? Has the writer evidenced originality in his/her approach and treatment of the topic? Is artistic expression (use of visual accompaniment such as photographs, illustrations, etc.) utilized to enhance the entry?
  • Organization: Does the writer use a logical sequence in presenting ideas & information? Is the piece broken into appropriate paragraphs? Are transitions (from sentence to sentence, paragraph to paragraph) smooth?
  • Use of Language: Is the wording clear and straightforward? Does the wording clearly and effectively communicate information? Is there an economical use of words, strong, active verbs, fresh words and phrases?
  • Conventions: Does the story/essay show mechanical polish? Are punctuation, spelling and usage correct? Does the writer use punctuation to enhance the writing?
  • Style: Is the story or essay compelling? Has the writer held the reader’s attention, connecting with him due to his/her storytelling or writing ability?


Do You Have The Write Stuff?

ENTERING. Get going and apply! If you don't try, you have absolutely NO chance of winning. But if you do enter, your chances greatly multiply. Just talking about it or thinking about it won't do an ounce of good unless you write it down. Lots of contest winners talk about how they almost didn't enter. Please don't let that happen to you.

FOLLOWING THE RULES. Be sure to follow the stated rules. There is no point in writing a prize piece if it gets disqualified. And, it will be if the criteria aren't exactly met. So, check, double check and triple check your entry. You have really got to take the time to present your entry well. Hey guys, that's one of the reasons spell and grammar checkers were invented.

QUALITY OF IDEAS. Is the quality of ideas in your creative work interesting, original, and/or does it explore a different angle? 

DOING RESEARCH. If you are writing about a story involving a service dog relationship, then research the topic in the literature. And, provide scholarly information to complement your personal story.

TIME MANAGEMENT. Try to avoid the last minute rush. There are a couple of good reasons for this. The first is that your submitted work may then not be as polished and powerful as it might have been. That one last rewrite could make for a winning entry, so make sure you have the time and proper planning to do so. The other problem with a last-minute entry is that your prized piece will be partner to all of the other entries that tend to flood in with only seconds to spare!

ONE DAY AT A TIME. Long journeys are made up of small steps. Dedicating one hour of quality time every day to your writing can really result in a wonderful piece of work. Write little, but write OFTEN! Find the most productive time for you, yourself, to work in. And, then keep at it.

WORKING AND RE-WORKING. Keep polishing. With that one extra draft, your story could go from so-so to superb (or much better anyway). Revise, Revise, Revise. Rome wasn't built in a day, and neither are most compositions. Write, then question it, then write it again, then question it again, then write it again. If you want to write a really great piece, you need to keep coming back to it. The number of drafts a writer goes through varies, but a minimum of six rewrites (only a word or line may change) after initial completion is recommended.

CONSTRUCTIVE FEEDBACK. Handling criticism is a hard thing for many writers to deal with. The trick is to find a balance between what you believe about your work and what others have to say. Obviously less importance should be given to your relative's advice compared with that of an established writer. 

WRITING ENVIRONMENT. Creating the right working space for writing is extremely important. A space with natural light and plenty of room can help your writing output. In this space, you could have favorite quotes and poems, books, canine art and collectibles, etc. But, make sure it is a space that you like being in, feel creative in and can work in.

READER ENGAGEMENT. In your stories or essays, become proficient at using an enigma. Enigmas (problems/questions) are a powerful device for keeping  reader interest as we all want to know the answers to questions that are posed. Think of some GReat stories you've read and determine what it was that kept you hooked. The stronger the enigma, the greater your reading pleasure probably was.