Susanna Hill’s Holiday Writing Contest

Author Susanna Leonard Hill is having a Holiday writing contest where you could win prizes!

What you have to do is post your 350 (or fewer) word version of The Night Before Christmas (it can be about any winter holiday).  My entry is below! Please visit Ms. Hill’s website for all the details HERE.

I was going to make this funny (I think it’s easy for me to write funny things) but my mom challenged me to write it seriously so I took her challenge (and she owes me five  dollars)! The entry didn’t have to rhyme, but I wanted to try it. This is my first time writing a rhyme that is so long and it was kind of hard for me to do BUT I also got to use this for a writing assignment in school (I didn’t get my grade yet) so that was a bonus!

The Day Before Christmas

by Erik

On the day before Christmas

The shelter was busy.

For an old dog like me,

It was making me dizzy.


I was doing my best.

I sat nicely waging my tail,

But people kept going by me,

I felt like I could wail.


That family wanted a puppy.

That one a cat.

A little girl adopted an iguana,

Can you imagine that?


Out went Paul and Sal,

The adorable hamster twins.

I toss my ball against the wall to look cute,

But I just can’t win.


Two guinea pigs get chosen,

One dog and two kittens.

People keep passing me by,

As they put on their mittens.


I spy a couple looking at me,

But they walk away.

Alas, no one’s going to get me,

On this very day.


Wait! Isn’t anyone looking for a loyal dog?!?

I’ve wagged and played and even rolled over,

But nothing seems to help

This tired old rover.


The shelter’s closing,

I’ve nearly lost hope.

Then from around the corner,

A little boy’s head did poke.


He walked down the hall,

And up to my cage.

He pointed at me!

He loves me, despite my old age.


He took me to his cozy home,

I was barking for joy .

I am so thankful,

For this very nice boy.


End of entry


This is my good dog Bart who died last year in the fall. My parents adopted Bart before I was even born. Remember shelter dogs (and cats) make good pets!

Bart ???? - 2010

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59 replies

  1. Great poem, Erik! I’m so sorry Bart dies last year.

  2. Oh, Erik, this is beautiful! Brought tears to my eyes. About 4 years ago, I adopted an “old dog” from a rescue group the day before Christmas Eve! His name is Mr. Bojangles, and he’s my constant companion. (He’s snoozing next to my desk at this very moment.) Before that, I had another “old dog” that I adopted right after Christmas. She was such a sweetheart — another constant companion. Nothing beats an old dog!! 🙂

    • I agree that “old dogs” might not be the “cutest,” but they sure are loyal!
      P.S. I like the name Mr Bojangles a lot. Hmmmm. My parents said that Josie and I could get our own dogs… (that’d be two dogs, one for each of us 🙂 ) If you don’t mind, I might use Mr Bojangles as my dog’s name (or at least Bojangles…).

      • Wow, I hope you and your sister are both able to get dogs! And I don’t mind one bit if you want to name your dog Bojangles. Mine has lots of nicknames — Bo, Mr. Bo, Mr. Jingley, Bojingles, Bo-Bo, Mr. Boboli — it’s a very versatile name that you will never grow tired of!!

      • HA HA! I like Mr. Jingley and Boboli 😉

  3. Holy smoke, Erik! You floor me every time! What a fabulous, fabulous entry! It’s wonderful on so many levels. I confess I’m a total dog lover so you had me the second you mentioned an old dog in a shelter, but to write this story in rhyme, with themes of love, generosity, and caring so perfect for this time of year, with such a great message, and finish with such a nice ending – WELL DONE! I hope you get an A+ 🙂 (And Baxter looks like he was a Good Dog and great friend. I’m so sorry you lost him.) The link list is up now, so hop on over and add your link so everyone will get to see this great entry 🙂

  4. I’m a dog person, so I was shocked about the Iguana! Outraged really, but glad it turned out OK for this dog at the shelter. It’s also great that you were able to use this as a class assignment.

  5. I second everything Susanna said. And I hope Bojangles becomes every bit the friend Bart was. Thanks for highlighting these loveable fellas. I wish everyone would take one home! My own big, loyal friend is sitting on my feet at the end of my bed right now.

    When you get your grade, tell us in another comment! 🙂

    • I will!
      Thanks! 🙂 I, too, wish that everyone can atleast adopt a pet from a shelter. I don’t want any animal to be “put to sleep.” It’s just awful to IMAGINE that happening to ANY animal. 🙁
      Erik P.S. I just thought about the horrible “thing” when I wrote about it. Ugghhhhh! 🙁

  6. That was great, Erik! I’m so glad you highlighted the need of homes for “old dogs” — cute puppies and kittens are the ones who capture everyone’s attention, and it must be hard for the old dogs (and cats) to watch people go past their cages without even a second glance. I’ve never had a dog, but I had the great good fortune to be chosen by two old cats, who made my life so much richer.

    I hope you get an A on this — you certainly deserve it!

  7. What a wonderful poem, Erik. Love the message which is full of heart at this holiday season! Best, Marcie

  8. Wow! As Susanna said, you certainly floored me with this poem. It was so touching and well written. We rescured a cat from a center many years ago and was a great companion for our little dog Buddy. Both no longer with us. I too hope you get an A for this at school. Love to hear how you do.

  9. I’m disappointed a certain Chinchilla named Smokey didn’t get a cameo appearance in the poem.

  10. Erik,
    That was a fabulous poem! I’m so impressed that a young man like you put so much thought, care, heart, and story arc in your FIRST long, serious poem. Keep writing them, you’re awesome!

  11. Great job. I loved it.

  12. Great job Erik! It was so touching with emotion. My family also got our dog from the shelter. I think those cats and dogs love their owners most. I’m sure you have special memories with your dog. Take care.

  13. Man, you really hit a soft spot. Great job Erik. I am so impressed with your work and that you accepted the challenge from your mom! (My dad would bribe me with money to change things up too, sometimes.) =)

    I must say that it is great when you get to combine both something that you love to do (such as writing) with something you are required to do (homework assignments). It makes life meaningful and fun. Sounds like you have a teacher that gives you options! (Pat them on the back for me-I am a former teacher!) =) Great work.

    • Thanks! My mom and dad do try to challenge me and not do the “easy” thing. My sister’s class is collecting donations for an animal shelter near us for the holidays, that’s kind of what gave me the idea. My teacher is nice 🙂

  14. This is wonderful. I am a retired teacher and am so impressed by you. What a wonderful blog you have. Your blog is a great resource for teachers, parents, kids, and librarians! I have sent some folks your way. Your writing skills are phenomenal. Keep up the great work and good luck in the contest.

  15. Hi Erik, that is brilliant and good on you for choosing this subject at Christmas when so many dogs are bought as presents and then abandoned. Lovely poem.

    p.s. I just noticed you train in TKD, I used to train too 🙂

  16. Well done – great topic.

  17. A very sweet poem indeed… Merry Christmas Erik

  18. You did a great job writing a serious topic. A fitting theme for Christmas.

  19. An iguana? Come on – poor dog! Seriously, this was a lovely poem. I got a little misty reading it, especially since we adopted our dog two years ago right after Christmas. He was a full year old and a large dog, so not as adoptable as a puppy or a smaller dog. I think it’s important that people consider older dogs too. They are often the most in need of a home (our dog had spent his whole first year of life in a cage).

    I’m sorry about the loss of your dog Bart. Do you have another dog now?

    • I am glad that you adopted your dog when he wasn’t a puppy (just because he was an old dog. I have nothing against puppies. 😉 ).
      We are thinking about getting a dog for me and a dog for Josie, but we haven’t fulfilled our destiny… yet. 🙂

  20. Nice poem! Good luck in the contest. Isn’t it hard to write in such a flash? I just tried for the first time ( All the best to you and Merry Christmas!

  21. This is such a special poem, Erik….one that touched my heart! I get very attached to my pets, and cry buckets of tears when they die. Good tension in your entry. I felt sorry for the poor masterless dog, and was so relieved when the little boy chose him! Bart sounded like a memorable pet. I’m so glad that he was yours for a number of years…dogs in particular, are pals for life!

  22. Great poem, Erik! You really captured the desperation and hurt old shelter dogs must feel! If I didn’t already have two dogs (both adopted from shelters) I’d go get one right now!

    I’m so sorry about Bart 🙁 It’s never easy losing a pet!

  23. Erik – You’ve knocked another great entry out of the park! Congrats!

    My 8 yr old has “Dog” on the top of her Christmas list. Unfortunately her brother is terrified of dogs, so we won’t get one until he is more at ease. I miss having a four footed friend in the house! I hope your entry inspires a lot of folks to adopt shelter pets or donate funds to help support a shelter.

    Merry Christmas!

  24. I loved your entry Erik! I’m so glad the dog found a home. I’m sorry to hear about your own dog Bart. You must miss him very much! I agree with you — shelter dogs can make wonderful, loving pets…it is always good to remember them! Good luck in the contest! Happy Holidays!

  25. Awww. This is so touching. Very well done. I love that you chose to do your story like this. It really is important to remember the animals at the shelters too. They all need good homes. 🙂 Merry Christmas.

  26. Boy Erik, did this go viral?

    Sure, I’m late to the party, don’t recall why. When I read your poem and read Shelter dogs, I was hooked and had to comment, even though it is now February, in a new year. I LOVE your message of adopt rescue dogs. Sitting next to me, watching my fingers run around the keyboard (don’t attack, not yet), is my new dog, a rescue dog. Not a big stretch since I help run a dog rescue, but they all matter.

    I want to thank you for your passion. More kids like you and maybe rescues will no longer be needed – – except for iguanas. Soon it will be up to your generation to help the millions of dogs and cats needing rescued from a sure death (due to lack of space), not because they are bad pets, but because someone abused, neglected, or abandoned the dog or cat.

    Please take Erik’s example to heart and adopt a rescued dog or cat. They will be one of the best, most loyal pet you cold ever want. And PLEASE, take a look at the older animals and the special needs ones. They are most often overlooked, but are not as needy as you might think.

    Fantastic Job, Erik. I bow in your presence. 😆

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