PW #235: Middle Grade Contemporary: FIGHT FOR THE DOG

Manuscript Status: Finished

Mentor Name: Heidi Stallman

Mentee Name: Kathleen Fox


Category: Middle Grade

Genre: Contemporary

Word Count: 50,000


Emmet sneaks a weak puppy from Daddy’s kennels and secretly raises it in the woods, hoping to save his father’s dog breeding business. But as his love for the puppy grows, so does his shame of Daddy’s other business—training dogs to fight. When Daddy finds out, Emmet must risk his family’s loyalty and livelihood to save his puppy’s life.


The barking of dogs from our kennels greeted me as I raced from the bus stop up our dirt road. Maxie was ready to whelp, and her puppies would come soon. Ne-Ne said so, and my grandma ain’t ever wrong.

Daddy whistled, and the dogs silenced.

I pulled the shed door open and peered in. Daddy’s strong hands stroked Maxie’s back, relaxing her as she paced between two blankets, her belly low to the ground.

“Will the puppies come tonight?” I stepped inside.

His face turned stern as his eyes met mine.

“First, Emmet, tell me what’s on your report card.”

I sucked in a breath. “Four As and two Bs.”

He broke into a grin that showed every tooth. “Well done, son. I’d expect no less.”

My pride soared.

“Bs in PE and Art?” he guessed, his eyes back on Maxie.

“Yes, sir.”

“Well, them things don’t count for much in the world.”

Those were the only two things my brother did well, so I was glad Cleveland wasn’t around to hear Daddy.

Maxie’s pacing slowed. She was a beautiful brown pit with black on her paws and a playful spirit, but what made Maxie special was her singing. She could string out a soft bark so it sounded like music. The day Daddy brought her home, it was like hope and happiness walked back through our door, her song a reminder our soured luck was finally turning sweet.

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