A Dog’s Tale: The Story Behind the Story

As Crufts is on at the moment (I love it!), it’s rather appropriate that I’ve got a doggy story in the current Woman’s Weekly Fiction Special.

It’s called ‘Borrowing Billy’ and the idea came from something rather sad, so if you’re not in the mood for sad, perhaps you should skip this bit (and scroll down to the competition news).

Several years ago, my elderly Auntie Molly was very ill in hospital. In fact (I told you this was sad), she never came home again. When I went to visit her before she died, she was really distressed about the fact that she couldn’t see her little Yorkshire terrier, Tom. She’d have given anything, I think, to have had a few minutes cuddling him in her hospital bed.

Of course, dogs aren’t allowed in hospitals, unless they’re guide dogs or therapy dogs, so, as far as I know, she never got her final wish and that’s something I’ve never forgotten. I really regret not being able to help her. It’s too late now, of course but in my story ‘Borrowing Billy’, I put things right, albeit ‘only’ in fiction and well, you’ll have to read the story to find out what happens.

But it made me think: in fiction we can right wrongs, give good people the happy endings they deserve and, in a nutshell, make everything OK. Is there anything from your past that you could ‘put right’ in fiction?

Evesham Festival of Words – Short Story Competition closing 23rd March 2018

You’ve still got a couple of weeks to get your entry in for this short story competition, which closes on 23rd March. It’s open to all, published or unpublished, regardless of where in the world you live. Max 2,500 words, there’s no theme, entry fee is £5 and the judge is Lynne Hackles.

More details here.

Retreat West – Photo Flash Challenge

If you fancy flexing your writing muscles over the weekend (or anytime, in fact, up to 25th March), there’s a free flash fiction competition on the Retreat West website, closing on 25th March.

More details here.

There’s a photo that you have to use for your inspiration and they’re looking for a maximum of 300 words. You can even enter twice, if you feel so inclined.

Up to 5 shortlisted stories will be up for a ‘public vote’ and the winner will win a free entry (worth £8) to one of Retreat West’s quarterly flash fiction competitions.

Good luck!

My dog Bonnie & her best friend, Rosie

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9 Responses to A Dog’s Tale: The Story Behind the Story

  1. Ninette90 says:

    I’m not a fan of Crufts (sorry) and after reading an article today in the Independent about dogs being inbred etc., to create the perfect, or more correctly, imperfect dog and how it leads to so many physical problems, I’m even less of a fan. However, that’s just my point of view. There have been a few things in my life I might be able to ‘put right’ in a fictional story – it’s a good prompt for a writing exercise. I’ll suggest it at my writers’ meeting this week. I think dogs should be allowed in hospitals and I believe/hope they are changing that rule. I do know that a dog was allowed into a psychiatric ward to visit their owner and it was lovely for both of them.

    • Ninette, I agree with you that in/over breeding which can create physical problems in dogs is not a good thing (and was, presumably, what the protest was about in the final of Crufts tonight). The actual showing of ‘perfect’ dogs is not the part of Crufts that I enjoy. I like the flyball, the agility the ‘dog as best friend’ award, which is a real tear-jerker and all the silly bits that Clare Balding and Alan Carr were doing (photos of people who look like their dogs, etc). It’s the ‘love of dogs’ bit that I like, not the ‘best in show’, which I hardly watch. Glad I might have given you an idea for your writers’ meeting! Thanks for your comment, I appreciate it!

      • Ninette90 says:

        Yes…I like the agility etc., and I love Clare Balding (have you read her books?) I think the point about the Crufts article was that every year when they crown a ‘specialist breed’ then everybody wants to buy one and the breeders go mad breeding hundreds of puppies. I love dogs. My dog is a mongrel – Italian at that! She would be good at agility but I never got round to training her and she’s nine now. Your Bonnie is gorgeous.

      • I’ve read Clare Balding’s book about dogs – really enjoyed that!

  2. juliathorley says:

    My cousin lives in Arizona and her little dog Ricky is a certified hospital visitor. He (with my cousin, of course) regularly visits the local hospital and brings comfort to patients of all ages and to their visitors and carers.

  3. Teresa Ashby says:

    I read and enjoyed your story this week. It is nice to be able to put things right in fiction even if we can’t always do that in real life. Love the photo of Bonnie and Rosie xx

  4. Kate Hogan says:

    Lovely story, Helen. I was scared to read it at first in case I got weepy, but took the plunge. I’m sure your Aunt Molly will appreciate your wish to rewrite a sad event into a happy one. Mad as it may seem, I’m sure she, and Tom, her little Yorkie will have met up again. All good wishes Kate Hogan

    • Helen Yendall says:

      Aw, thanks Kate, that brought a little tear to my eye. I hope you’re right (about them meeting up again). It’s certainly a comforting thought, isn’t it?

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