2018 Writing Competition Nominees

Special Award Categories


Thank you so much to our generous sponsors who make the DWAA Special Awards possible! We are so grateful to you for recognizing outstanding work by dog writers.


AKC Club Publication Excellence Award

Sponsored by the American Kennel Club, this award is for the best article in a national, regional or local AKC club publication in magazine or newsletter format. The award consists of a plaque and a $500 cash grant.

 Five Ways to Make Your Entle’s Walk Extra Special on “Walking the Dog Day” February 22nd by Linda Liebrand

 Safety, Comfort are the New Black by Laurren Darr

 Sheep du Soleil by Elizabeth M. Jarrell


AKC Reunite Microchip Awareness Award

Sponsored by AKC Reunite for the best article on how microchips can be used in pet recovery. Articles can include recovery stories of how dogs were identified or returned to owners, permanent identification in cases of theft, uses of microchips to confirm identity of dogs in competition, etc. The award is a $1,000 cash grant. For information about actual recovery stories, writers can contact AKC Reunite at microchip@akcreunite.org.

 A Tale of Two Lost Dogs by Caroline Coile

 Everyone Should Have Their Pets Microchipped by Susan Ewing


AKC Responsible Dog Ownership Public Service Award

Sponsored by the American Kennel Club, this award goes to the writer of a print or online feature article that best educates pet owners about responsible dog ownership. The award consists of a plaque and a $500 cash grant. To enter, submit one article, which must also be entered in this year’s contest in one of the regular categories.

 In Case of Accident… by Caroline Coile

 Is Heartworm Prevention a Scam? by Caroline Coile

 Protecting Your On-Leash Dog and What to Do Should the Worst Happen by Denise Alexandra Fleck


The AKC Family Dog Award

Sponsored by the American Kennel Club, this award is for the best writing (including books, articles and blog posts) about any or all of the good manners programs under the AKC Family Dog umbrella, including AKC Therapy Dog, AKC Trick Dog, AKC Canine Good Citizen, AKC Community Canine, Urban CGC and AKC S.T.A.R. Puppy. While participating in these activities that are fun for both dogs and people, dogs become well-socialized and develop a lifelong bond with their owners. This award consists of a $500 cash grant.

 AKC Trick Dog Perform Title: Starring William the Circus Ringmaster and his Uncaged Bear Act by Elizabeth M Jarrell

No Dog Left Behind? by Caroline Coile


The Canine Scribbles Award

Sponsored by Canine Scribbles, LLC, this is awarded for the best article that promotes the reasons to own a purebred canine. The fiction or nonfiction article of 1000 to 1500 words must be published in a print or online publication. The focus of the article should exemplify the virtues of owning a specific purebred dog. A high-resolution .jpeg (at least 300 dpi) should accompany the article that depicts the canine about which the article is written. The article should be clearly and succinctly written, and should outline the advantages of purebred dog ownership, with a unique journalistic voice. $350 cash grant.

 For Laughter and Little Ones by Mara Bovsun

 Salvation Of All-Breed Clubs by Linda E. Kornhi

 Search and Rescue Dogs: Making The Lost Found Again by Bev Thompson

 What Teddy Taught Us by Mara Bovsun


The Captain William Lewis Judy Award

Sponsored by American Legion Post 348 of Brick Township, New Jersey. For a submission in any form of media that educates the public about the important role our military dogs play in our Armed Forces, including issues affecting their emotional and physical care during their training, active service and retirement. The award consists of a $350 cash grant.

 Four-Legged Warriors – Pet Connection/Andrews McMeel Syndication by Kim Campbell Thornton

 Megan Leavey, K9 Rex and Bringing Home K9 Heroes by Laura Jane Reeves


The Ceva Heartworm Prevention Award

Sponsored by Ceva Animal Health, this award is for the best article that educates the public about heartworm awareness and prevention tips. The winner will receive a $1,500 grant.

 Heartworm Disease Deadly But Preventable by Christy Elizabeth Caplan

 Inside Heartworm – Pet Connection/Andrews McMeel by Kim Campbell Thornton

 Is Heartworm Prevention a Scam? – Canine Chronicle Magazine by Caroline Coile


DWAA Robert H. McKowen Memorial Friends of Rescue Award

Sponsored by his family and friends. For the best article describing the rescue process: adoption, fostering, transporting, home visits or other aspects of rescue. $300 cash grant.

 A Piglet State of Mind by Melissa S. Shapiro, DVM

 From Rescued to Rescuer  by Nancy Monson

 Points to consider when adopting a pet by Kim Campbell Thornton

 Rising from the ashes: Former shelter dog helps firefighters cope with stress and grief by Laura Teresa Coffey


The Fear Free Pets Award

Sponsored by Fear Free, LLC, this is awarded for the article, book, blog, TV segment, radio spot, video, column or other creative media format that best educates, promotes, or demonstrates the importance and benefits of taking a dog to a Fear Free certified veterinary professional. This may also include how a dog’s emotional well-being can play a role in all aspects of its life and health, including veterinary care, how decreasing fear, anxiety, and stress is beneficial to the patient and owner both during the veterinary visit and at home, a focus on Fear Free applications pre- and post-veterinary visit, successful case studies/stories of how a dog went from fearful to Fear Free during or throughout the course of a single or series of veterinary visits, positive experiences working with a Fear Free certified veterinary professional or anything that highlights how Fear Free and what it stands for is all around better for staff, patients, and clients. This award consists of a $2,000 cash grant and a one-of-a-kind commemorative award.

 Brave New World: Fear-Free Veterinary Visits by Caroline Coile

 Changing Behaviors by Sarah Rumple

 The Fear Free Revolution by Jen Reeder


Fear Free Dog Enrichment Award

Sponsored by Fear Free, LLC, this is awarded for the article, book, blog, TV segment, radio spot, video, column or other creative media formats that best educates, promotes, or demonstrates how enrichment activities (exercise, food puzzles, scent training, etc.) can benefit a dog’s emotional—not just physical—well-being and the role that has in their overall health. This may also include topics relating to how the resulting benefits of such enrichment to the dog’s emotional well-being can help set them up for more successful veterinary visits in the future, thus living a happier, healthier life. This award consists of a $2,000 cash grant and a one-of-a-kind commemorative award.

 How Good Breeders Raise Puppies Who Grow Into Happy, Confident Dogs by Linda C. Rehkopf

 Making Vet Visits Fear Free by Susan Ewing

 Never Fear by Caroline Coile


The GNFP Digital Canine Companion Award

Sponsored by GNFP Digital, this award is for the best digital story – online video, blog post or online article with photography that best demonstrates the bond between people and their canine companions. The content must be demonstrated as having been shared through digital media. The winner will receive a $1,000 grant and a special gift.

 A Piglet State of Mind by Melissa S. Shapiro, DVM

 Piglet, the Deaf Blind Pink Puppy’s Trip to the First Annual Special K9 Games by Melissa S. Shapiro, DVM

 Piglet, the Deaf Blind Pink Puppy Visits Classrooms to Educate, Inspire, and Create Smiles by Melissa S. Shapiro, DVM

 The Power of Rescue: How a Dog Helped 2 Boston Marathon Bombing Survivors Heal by Laura Teresa Coffey


The Harrison Stephens Inspirational Feature Award

Named in honor of Harrison Stephens, a newspaper editor who wrote thought-provoking features marked by journalistic integrity and humor until his death just before his 100th birthday. This award is for a feature article that highlights the human-canine bond and leaves the reader with a smile. Potential topics include working dogs (or a lazy dog with a winning personality), or dog-centric nonprofits that promote positive outcomes for pets and people. The award is sponsored by Sally and Tom Reeder and consists of a $300 grant.

 A Perfect Match by Susan Wroble

 Piglet, the Deaf Blind Pink Puppy’s Trip to the First Annual Special K9 Games by Melissa S. Shapiro, DVM

 Piglet, the Deaf Blind Pink Puppy Visits Classrooms to Educate, Inspire, and Create Smiles by Melissa S. Shapiro, DVM

 What Teddy Taught Us by Mara Bovsun


The Heroes for Healthy Pets Award

Sponsored by Merck Animal Health, this award is open to all forms of media that cover topics on infectious diseases that affect dogs. The winner will receive a plaque and a $1,500 cash grant.

 Canine Influenza Is Here to Stay by Debra M. Eldredge, DVM

 Congestive Heart Failure in Dogs by Christine Caplan

 Ticks’ Increasing Threat by Kim Campbell Thornton


James Colasanti, Jr. Poetry Award  

For the poem/poetry which best exemplifies the unconditional love of a dog. Sponsored by James Colasanti Jr. The award is a $200 cash grant.

 Atlas by Nikolas Anthony Klimenko

 A Thousand Tears . . . Song For A Magical-Dawg by Amy Shojai

 She’s Just Like Me by Debra Lampert-Rudman


The Pet Fashion Guild Pet Fashion Award

Sponsored by Pet Fashion Guild, this award is for a submission in any form of media that demonstrates the enhanced bonds and connections between humans and their dog(s) through pet fashion. This award consists of a $350 cash grant.

 Quick and Easy Halloween Costumes by Bryn Nowell

 The Wedding…The World According to Rosebud and Brody by Ted Slupik and Gail Diedrichsen

 What Not to Wear – Dog Leashes by Kate Eldredge


The PSI Professional Pet Care Award

Sponsored by Pet Sitters International (PSI), this award is presented to the entry that best educates pet owners about the benefits of using professional pet sitters. Qualifying online or print entries include newspaper or magazine articles and blog posts. This award consists of a $300 cash prize.

 Bloat in Dogs: Signs, Symptoms and Prevention Tips by Carlotta Cooper

 No PAWS About It: Hiring a Professional Pet Sitter is the Right Move for Your Pet by Denise Alexandra Fleck

 Pet Separation Anxiety by Christy Caplan


The Rio Award

Sponsored by Jen Reeder and Bryan Fryklund in honor of their beloved Labrador retriever mix, Rio, this award is for an article, book or essay that profiles a dog who changed someone’s life in a profoundly positive way. The award consists of a $300 cash prize.

 Dogs with Jobs by Laura Greaves

 Let Dogs Be Dogs by Marc Goldberg and the Monks of New Skete

 My Deceased Dog Connected With Me In The Twilight Zone by Carol Bryant


The Sleepypod Pet Safety Award

Sponsored by Sleepypod, this award is for the best article or book that shares tips for pet safety during travel and/or anecdotes of dogs helped by owners who take safety precautions. The award consists of a $500 cash grant.

 Chloe’s Adventure Cori’s Nightmare: A Lost Dog Rescue Story by Cori Solomon

 On The Move With Your Best Friend by Denise Alexandra Fleck

 The Ultimate Pet Friendly Road Trip by Amy Burkert

 Top 12 Dangers of Traveling With Dogs By Car by Carol Bryant


The Take Your Dog Award

Sponsored by Take Your Dog To Work Day® creator Pet Sitters International, this award is presented to the entry that best highlights the special human-canine bond and importance of pet adoptions. Qualifying print or online entries include newspaper or magazine articles, blog posts and personal essays. The award consists of a $300 cash prize.

 A Mighty Pip: Grief, Reflection, and Four Years Gone by Kristin M. Avery

 Piglet, the Deaf Blind Pink Puppy Visits Classrooms to Educate, Inspire, and Create Smiles by Melissa S. Shapiro, DVM

 The Soul of Saving a Senior Pet by Christy A. Doherty


The Walter R. Fletcher Memorial Award

Sponsored by The Westminster Kennel Club in memory of legendary dog show reporter Walter Fletcher, this annual award goes to the reporter who best exemplifies continued press coverage of dog shows in America. The writer must have written a bylined article in a print or online general interest publication about a dog show (or shows). The winner will be honored with a reserved seat in the Walter Fletcher Memorial Chair for both nights of the 2018 Westminster Kennel Club Dog Show. The chair is located at the end of the front row, in the working press section, on the arena floor of Madison Square Garden. The winner will also receive $300.

 American Cocker Spaniel Striker Comes Close at Westminster by Carol Bryant

 Four Dog Shows – The Post-Journal by Susan Ewing

 Our New York City Adventures: Progressive, Meadowlands and Westminster 2018 by Barbara E. Magera and Elaine L. Mitchell


Dogwise Best Book Award

Sponsored by Dogwise Publishing. $500 to the author of the best book. The winner will be chosen by the president of DWAA from the winners of all the book categories. The award is a $500 cash grant and will be announced at the Feb. 10 DWAA Awards Banquet.


DWAA Distinguished Service Award

Sponsored by the American Kennel Club, this award honors extraordinary achievement and communications excellence. It recognizes the person who, by word, deed, exemplary conduct, public communication and professional excellence, best promotes the interest of the sport of dogs. The award consists of a plaque and a $1,000 cash grant.

 And the winner is … Mara Bovsun


DWAA Hall of Fame Inductee

 Deborah Wood



Nominees & Winners: Regular Categories
Previous Year’s Nominees and Winners
Writing Competition Logo

Celebrate the winners at the DWAA Awards Banquet on February 10, 2019. All nominees receive certificates. Winners receive the DWAA Maxwell Medallion, named in honor of the late Maxwell Riddle.

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