Pawsome Stories is a call out to all animal heroes in grades three to six!

Each year, we look for the next generation of animal welfare advocates. If you’re in grades three to six, we want to hear from you, so keep an eye out for our next Pawsome Stories competition in 2023!

The third annual Pawsome Stories writing competition was another great opportunity to showcase the love for animals, awesome writing skills and creative ideas – plus we also have some amazing prizes up for grabs.

This year (2022), there are two categories:
  • Fiction: the day I found out my pet has superpowers!
  • Non-fiction: how pets were important during the COVID 19 lockdowns.
And we had some AMAZING judges:

We were so excited to welcome renowned authors Cameron Macintosh and Melissa Keil as our special guest judges, who sat on the judging panel alongside RSPCA Victoria Chief Executive Officer Dr Liz Walker.

Cameron Macintosh

We’re tail-waggingly happy to welcome Cam back for his third year as a Pawsome Stories judge! Cam is a much-loved Australian author who has written more than 120 books including the popular Max Booth Future Sleuth series. His books have been published in many countries and are loved by children around the world! When he isn’t writing, he loves travel, old guitars and ‘80s comic books.

Melissa Keil

A big hello and welcome to our exciting new guest judge! Melissa is a writer and children’s book editor whose works have been published around the world. Her novels – Life in Outer Space, The Incredible Adventures of Cinnamon Girl and The Secret Science of Magic have been commended in numerous prizes, including the Ena Noël Award, the Prime Minister’s Literary Awards and the teens’ choice Gold Inky.

View 2022’s winning entires below…

Non-Fiction - Years 3/4

Alice Butler - First Place (tied)

How Our Pets Were Lockdown Lifesavers
By Alice Butler

Wasn’t it just awful when your alarm clock rang in the morning in the middle of a lockdown? Realising it was just the same old thing? Glitches and difficulty at virtual school, endless boredom, nothing to see or do, only 30 minutes of exercise. And, of course, a good old press conference to enforce more rules. Then, just before you broke down, you felt a little lick on your hand, or soft fur, or a little squeak that just made you feel a whole lot better and ready to face the day. During lockdown, our pets were our saviours. They gave us the crucial support, love and well-being that we needed to get through everything we faced.

Our pets really helped us with our emotions during COVID. Dogs especially could sense when their owners were feeling emotional, and they would try to cheer them up with affection. Some pets were great listeners, and would just be quiet and respectful while their owners told them all their worries. Animals were also great stress relief, being perfect for stroking when everyone was overwhelmed and needed a break. This pet support helped people hugely with their anxiety and coping with isolation.

Our animal friends were a great help when it came to getting us active and social as well. During COVID-19, restrictions were high, so there was a 30 minute outdoor exercise limit. Many people didn’t have the strength or willpower to go out at the end of a long day. But some pets can get pretty restless if they’re not exercised, so some owners had to. It was a great help to us to get out and get moving. Everyone who went out for a half hour a day had a superior mood, slept better, and it was amazing for people’s immune systems and physical and mental health. Even pet owners that didn’t need to walk their animals would still get a bit of activity training and playing with them. In isolation, nobody really saw anyone except the people they were living with, and some people were quite shy about meeting someone, but really wanted somebody to talk too. Pets were great at bringing people together, because people would meet someone else while walking with their pets, and could use their puppy to get a conversation or even friendship started. Pet WhatsApp groups became extremely popular, and people could chat about their animals and have social meet ups with members of the group sometimes. This was brilliant, as people were socialising more over their little critters.

Another reason why pets were so important during COVID-19 is that they provided entertainment and motivation for us. If you were bored, you could go and teach your parrot to talk or play with your bunny! Some people came up with crazy ideas like at-home pet fashion shows for a laugh. There was always a funny meme or social media post online, and pets and their owners were constantly doing hilarious things, cheering everyone up and raising happiness and laughter levels sky high. Pets were our motivators, too. When you woke up in lockdown one day, you might have felt you didn’t want to get out of bed and live another day. Then you would realise your pet needed breakfast, or you could look forward to meeting a friend in the park with the dog. These thoughts inspired people to keep pushing through the hardships. ‘My daughter would have been bored witless without him and he is getting us all outside.’ – Marie Brown

It’s agreed that our pets were the heroines of lockdown! They helped us with our stress, our exercise, our socialising and provided entertainment and motivation. So let’s take a moment today to give a massive thank you to our pets for everything they’ve done!

Audrey Wallace-Wood - First Place (tied)

Pets Were Very Important During The COVID19 Lockdowns, Says New Study

By Audrey Wallace-Wood

Audrey Wallace-Wood, 10, interviewed her class of 27 grade 4 and 5 children to find out how many classified their pets as important in COVID 19. Audrey took a tally and discovered that 22 of her class of 27 children had at least one pet, and 13 of those 22 classified their pets as important things during the hard times of COVID 19.

Audrey also took individual interviews and found that there were several reasons for this. Live on the scene she interviewed Luelle Green, 10, who commented that “My dog, Sunday, kept people entertained by jumping on top of the table and licking the camera during our Webex meetings for school,” Webex was the video meeting company that Bendigo Violet Street Primary used for their school lessons, Audrey confirms. Following were comments from Ava Oakenfeld, 11, who said that “When I had a break, I wasn’t bored, and plus, when I was frustrated with a difficult math problem her soft fur calmed me down and cleared my mind.” Another reason from Saoirse, 11, was “My pets gave me produce and things to eat, like eggs from our chickens.” Audrey’s main interview was with classmate and friend Matilda Cowie. “My dog Ziggy was a puppy, and he distracted me from thinking about the poor people during COVID, and things on the news and stuff like that, because I was making sure, you know, that he knew where to eat and drink and didn’t pee inside, and stuff like that.”

Matilda also added that “he slept on my bed and kept me happy and able to laugh, with all the things going on. Plus, it was funny when he took up almost the whole couch by himself as a puppy. Now he takes up literally all of it. Like, Ziggy, I need space too!”

Audrey’s own personal experience was that her cat, Beryl, was a source of comfort during sad times. “At some points in COVID,” she said, “things just felt so overwhelming, and I felt I couldn’t take it anymore. But when I snuggled up in a heap on my bed, wishing the world would go away, Beryl would come up to me, like she knew what I was thinking. We might sit there, possibly for hours at a time, until I was ready to get up and face the scary, overwhelming world again. With her at my side, it just felt that little bit less scary, and that little bit less overwhelming. Like with her there, I might just be able to face it all.” Audrey’s cat died shortly after that, but she goes down to the pile of stones still, and sometimes just sits, until she feels she is strong enough to face the world once more.

Non-Fiction - Years 5/6

Leonie Chen - First Place

How Pets Were Important During Covid 19 Lockdowns
By Leonie Chen

How it all begins- 2020, Vic (Australia)

We all love and know how pets are so important to our lives, especially during desperate and difficult times. But we just didn’t know how important until the next following years ahead.

In late December 2019 a new-found virus called corona virus, or (covid-19) for short, was discovered in Wuhan, China. The globe didn’t take much notice. Until early 2020, cases and deaths started pouring in, from all over the world. Australia was one of them.

2020 was the year things didn’t go the way they seem, and one of them was lockdowns. People were isolated and stopped from doing the things they love to prevent mutating the virus, and some pets even lost their homes because of this.

By mid 2020, hundreds of pets poured into the shelters, simply because their owners could not afford to take care of them. They were trapped back into their own world, back to where they started. We thought that it was going to be like this until early 2021, people started adopting pets again.

 

People, of course suffered from the Lockdowns, and got mental illness, anxiety and depression. They thought that it would never heal. But that’s when our adorable fluffy friends come in.

Pets were proven to be a game changer during lockdowns and helped people through the toughest times. They made people feel less lonely and provide great comfort to those who needed it. They made people smile who haven’t smiled in ages, but most importantly, we gave them love and a home, and they bought friendship and joy.

So, whether people suffered from illnesses during lockdowns, or they just needed a friend pets were proven to be the right choice for most people. They got a home, and we got friend.

 

Fiction - Years 3/4

Angela Huang - First Place

The Day I Found Out My Pet Has Superpowers

By Angela Huang

The morning sun blazed through the curtains of my room as my eyes struggled to open. Straining my eyelids, I felt something wet streak across my face ‘pant, pant, pant’ filled my ear drums. Finally, fully awake, I saw Scruffy my golden retriever at my head licking my face.

“Hey, Scruffy, did Mum forgot to feed you?” I questioned, reaching out and scratching him behind his ears.

“Get up lazy sloth!” growled Scruffy, “I need your help.”

My jaw dropped to the floor. Did Scruffy just talk to me?

“Enough! Just follow me”, he interrupted. “COVID-King will destroy the world if we don’t destroy his lab.” Biting onto my pants, Scruffy dragged me towards my closet where a swirly green portal gradually opened.

Scruffy immediately leaped into the portal, and turning his head back shouted, “come on”. I was terrified, but somehow managed to jump through the lime entity. As soon as I stuck head out the other side, my vision was clouded by green. Broken buildings with factories pumping out green smoke filled the landscape all the way to the horizon.

Seeing my shock, Scruffy explained that this was his super world where the evil COVID-King had taken over and planned to spread his COVID germs to the rest of the multiverse. He explained that he had lost his family trying to fight the COVID germs and I knew that Scruffy was trying his best to hide a teardrop of sad and painful memories. I felt bad for him and promised to him that I would make this mission a success.

“The COVID-King’s lab should be very near us now,” Scruffy said as a huge factory that could fit millions of people loomed over us. Several green virus shaped guards patrolled the factory. Suddenly Scruffy barked three times and with a flash of blue light Scruffy was wearing a blue and red cape and mask with the letter S on them. As this happened, I heard an oddly stiff voice beeping “Non-Germ Detected, Non-Germ Detected…”, but before any of the germ guards reacted, Scruffy bravely shot the germs with red lasers from his eyes! The germs slowly disintegrated away, and as we entered the building, I saw a huge red virus that was the size of a house.

“That’s the germ who created this whole mess, COVID-King,” Scruffy whispered to me.

The huge germ turned around and saw us. All my limps shivering, a cold feeling tingled down my spine.

“You won’t stop me from multiverse domination,” COVID-King boomed.

Super Scruffy flew at him and tried to laser him. With a swat of his hand, COVID-King hit Scruffy to the floor. Turning to me, eyes bulging, the evil germ grinned with satisfaction.

“Once you are dealt with, your human world will be mine to conquer!” he cackled.

Arms shivering, I reached into my pocket and pulled out the bottle of hand sanitiser that mum always told me to use before eating and splashed it on him. Immediately, the germ began to shake violently. BOOM! COVID-King exploded, and the sky began to turn blue, and the factories began to fade. Lying in the rubble, Scruffy smiled at me and barked happily, “Thank you, and goodbye!”. My vision blurred and I passed out.

As I opened my eyes again, I was back in my bed waking up with Scruffy on my bed panting and licking me. He was no longer Super Scruffy, just normal Scruffy. As mum walked into my room asking why I was sweating and shaking I shrugged my shoulders as Scruffy barked happily at her. However, as Scruffy was carried out of the room by mum I swear I saw him turn his head and wink at me.

Fiction - Years 5/6

Oscar Tan - First Place

Nine Lives
By Oscar Tan

Gabe was an ordinary 11 year old Aussie boy. Kind, funny and caring were all qualities that he possessed, yet there was nothing that made him stick out from everybody else. The only thing that he could think of that made him slightly more extraordinary was that he used to be the only boy with a foster calico cat, but sadly, she died when he was 7. Her name was Millie.

But today was different. He was the one who created the fundraiser to send his class to Africa, and he was the one who raised 50% of the money and he was the one who arranged everything. And now the fruits of his labour would come to harvest.

Gabe was excited. He was in Tanzania with his classmates, and on a night safari with his best friend Tom, off to see his favourite animal: Lions! Gabe and his classmates were on a crowded safari bus, riding to the site with the lions, when disaster struck. His foot slipped and he fell out of the bus! Gabe hit the floor, and crawled after the bus in vain. Suddenly, Gabe heard a deep growling behind him. He turned around, saw his own reflection in the eyes of a golden lion. He closed his eyes, prepared for the inevitable and… nothing happened. He opened his eyes and sure enough, he saw the lion stalking away and even better, the bus coming back for him. Gabe sprinted to the bus, threw himself on and clipped himself in. “You all good?” Tom asked. “Yeah,” Gabe replied. “Never been better.”

3 years later…

Gabe was now 14, living a good life and mostly unfazed by that very traumatic experience in Tanzania. He had a few weird incidents with cats now and then, and was quite terrified of them. One time, a creepy hairless cat started chasing him and Gabe swore that it kept on screeching,  “Come back here Gabe!”

Anyways, he was back to being that one kid that nobody notices, going to and from school every day. But every time that he walked just about anywhere, he felt like someone – or something – was watching him. He would be constantly turning around and yet, he couldn’t see anything or anyone.

One day, Gabe came home from school and saw a grey tabby cat sleeping on his front door step. Weird, Gabe thought. He didn’t want to alert or disturb the sleeping feline, so he got his spare key and climbed the side gate around to the back of his house. Gabe opened the rear entrance, and went inside. He walked over to the front door; checked if the cat was still there – which it was – and went to his room, put his bag down and went into bathroom to have a shower. He was just about to step into the steaming hot water when he heard a low, almost inaudible sort of purring. Gabe quickly wrapped a towel around his waist and walked into the living room, preparing to fight an intruder.

“Who’s there!” he shouted.

He screeched like a bird when he saw what was there. Sitting on the coffee table, grooming its fur was the tabby cat from outside which had somehow broke its way inside.

“Hello Gabe,” it said. “I’ve been looking forward to meeting you again.”

The next thing he knew, the wooden floor was rushing towards Gabe as he tried and failed to stay upright. The last thing he heard was a name. Millie.

When Gabe awoke, he looked around. He was lying on the couch, with a pillow under his head and his mum next to him.

“Did you have a good rest, sweetie?” she asked. “What do you mean?” Gabe replied.  “I found you sleeping on this couch with the shower on,” she said. “What do you mean?”

All of a sudden, the memories came back to Gabe. He remembered the sleeping-talking cat and breaking into his own house and trying to have a shower. He remembered fainting and that one name: Millie. Gabe decided that it would be in his best interests to not tell his mum the truth, so he told her he was just tired and said he wanted to go for a walk. He pulled his shoes on and stepped out the front door.

“By the way,” His mum called from the kitchen. “Have you seen a grey tabby cat anywhere? it may have soiled your shoes.” At that moment, Gabe felt a huge squish in my step and knew bad things had happened.

Car crashes are annoying. Getting involved in a car crash is even more annoying. And getting your pet’s supposed reincarnation killed in a car crash right before you get to talk to them about what the heck is going on, is purely and extremely infuriating. So you can imagine how Gabe was feeling right now, being nearly dead after watching his mysterious tabby follower getting flung 20 metres away from him by a car into an inconvenient nearby lake. Gabe ran over, and saw a cat coming out of the lake.

“Idiots.” the cat muttered to itself. But the strange thing was, this cat wasn’t a grey tabby. It was a short-haired Siamese cat which was now running away! Gabe bolted after it and grabbed it. It screeched and struggled but then looked at Gabe in his eyes and… it stopped. Gabe loosened his grip and the cat spoke.

“Oh it’s you again.” Gabe was so scared that he threw the Siamese-tabby back into the lake… and a familiar calico came out. “Millie?” Gabe said.

Suddenly, Millie’s fur started to change. It became black, then blue and then her body grew twice the size and turned into a giant lion. “You were the lion as well!” Gabe realizing what was happening. “Goodbye” Millie said in a distorted voice.  “Wait, what do you mean?” “That was my last life Gabe.” Millie said.

Millie’s body started to change more rapidly now, changing in fur, size and colour. Gabe rushed forward, knowing that this was his last chance to be with his beloved pet. He hugged her and whispered in her ear

“Goodbye Millie.” and then… she was gone.

CEO category

Maya Falkens - CEO winner (tied)

Crumpet The Hero

By Maya Folkens

“Crumpet, hand.”
“Ok.”

What has just happened? My puppy just talked to me. Crumpet gave me his hand and looked at me blankly like he normally does. Maybe I was just imagining it, Covid has made me crazy. Yeah, I was just imagining it.

“Why do you look like you just saw a UFO?” Crumpet complained. Yes. I am definitely not imagining this.

“Because this is as crazy as seeing a UFO.” I replied. That was the day I realised my dog, Crumpet, has superpowers.

This is not the first time Crumpet had superpowers, apparently he had superpowers in his past life. In his past life he was saving an old woman, his owner who adopted him from the RSPCA, from cancer, but he died of old age before he could save her. Crumpet wants to save her in his present life, when he is still young. He wants to be a hero again.

“So… where is the hospital your owners are in?” Crumpet slowly points forward and I follow. After a long journey of twists and turns I see a hospital.

“Not that one, silly,” Crumpet groans. I follow him for 2 painful minutes until we reach the correct hospital.

I walk inside the hospital and wait for the reception lady.

“He is on level 6, next!” reception lady yells.

“Hi, where is-” bend down to Crumpet so he can whisper his owner’s name.

“Margaret Pilne”

“Where is Margaret Pilne?” I finally finish my sentence.

“She is on level 4, next!” reception lady shouts. Okay, level 4. Let’s go! Eventually I find where Margaret is and enter her hospital room.

“Margaret, it is your lucky day, you have not 1, but 2 visitors!”

“Who is it?” Margaret sadly says, “no one in my family is alive anymore.” Crumpet quickly shows himself and Margaret stops speaking immediately.

“Brownie? Is that you?” Crumpet slowly and proudly nods his head and jumps onto Margaret. Why is he jumping on her? Right when I think that, everything turns into slow motion.

A bright dazzling light appears surrounding Crumpet and it eventually surrounds the whole room. It takes 1 or 2 minutes for the slow motion to end. After it finishes, I feel like it is the end of a movie, when everyone reunites and is happy, and soft, playful music is playing in the background. There is no music in the background in this situation, but everyone is equally happy as they are in movies. A doctor walks in casually and coincidentally tests Margaret for remaining cancer cells. The doctor stops in his tracks as he sees that Margaret is 100% cancer free. Crumpet looks at the doctor blankly, pretending that he did not save the day, but he did. He did save the day. He should be proud. He is a hero. Crumpet is a hero.

Zahlia Glover - CEO winner (tied)

How were dogs important during Covid-19 lockdown
By Zahlia Glover

Do you know the feeling of coming home on a rainy day to sunshine?

A dog is a mysterious animal sent from god. Dogs bark and dance till night when they want to play but if their owner is sad they will ask for nothing but give you more.

Covid lockdown is a depressing time where all you need is human interaction, but I would rather have a ball of joy to lick my face, make me smile and love me unconditionally. A dog is a reason to get up, a dog is a special personalised companion and a dog is an umbrella in the rain to help you throughout the day.

It has been proven that for some owners during Covid lockdown it did increase stress levels because of finance issues but for me a dog is worth more than all the money in the world.

“ I have found that when you are deeply troubled there are things you get from the silent devoted companionship of a dog that you can get from no other source”- Daisy Day