Writing Challenge: Girl Meets Boy Meets Dog

This week at So You Think You Can Write we’ve been talking about romantic comedy. As DARE author Rebecca Hunter wrote on Wednesday, “Right now, there are a lot of things going on in the world that can make us feel overwhelmed. Sometimes we need a break. We all need a place to go to recharge, and romantic comedies provide the very best of that.”

So true! And it’s not just the humor in romantic comedies that give us this escape – it’s the deeply felt emotion too. “While you can have emotion without humour, never forget that in romance, you cannot have humour without emotion,” says Liz Fielding in our Advice from the Archives post. And that’s your challenge for this week!

The setup:

Children’s book editor Carmen is getting over a breakup, so she’s adopting a dog. Patrick, an art director at Carmen’s office, is caring for his grandmother. He’s decided to adopt a dog for her. They both have an appointment at the animal shelter on Saturday morning, and due to a mixup, each thinks they’re going home with the same adorable mutt, Lila.

Write a short scene at the shelter, demonstrating both humor and emotion. Try not to use exposition; let Carmen and Patrick’s words and actions communicate their feelings.

Post your scene in the comments below any time between now and Sunday, June 2, 2019, and well check back with you on Monday!

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  1. Tracy

    “What are you doing here?” Carmen asked.
    “Picking up my grandmother’s new companion,” Patrick said.
    “That is so sweet. How is she?”
    “My grandmother or the dog?” Patrick laughed at his joke. “Doing well but I think Lila will really get her going.”
    “Lila?”
    “Yes.”
    “Lila is my dog. I am waiting for her now.”
    “This cute mutt here?” Patrick pulled up a picture on his phone.
    Carmen did the same and turned her identical pic to his.
    “She’s mine!” they both cried.
    “What do you need with a dog?” Patrick demanded.
    “I told you I broke up with my boyfriend.”
    “Lila can’t do what he used to and it would probably be illegal in this state anyway. She’s mine.”
    “That’s disgusting and I need a friend!”
    “There’s an app for that.” Patrick shook his phone. “Either get to swiping or there is a bar a block down. I’ll buy the first round.”
    “Forget it. Your grandmother wouldn’t know the difference if you brought home another dog.”
    “She won’t? She’s seen the pic. Lila is her new Ipad saver.” Patrick pointed his finger. “You find another dog. You just broke up with one so you have plenty of practice picking up another one.”
    “That’s not nice,” Carmen said placing a tissue to her eyes.
    “Save the tears,” Patrick said. “The Oscars are a year away and, even with that kind of time, fitting into the dress is still questionable with your candy bar habit.”
    Carmen sniffed. “Leave my Kit Kats out of this.”
    Patrick held up his hand. “I will buy you two wholesale boxes of candy and throw in one personally autographed sketch of the new dog you are going to rescue. Best and final offer.”
    “Three and a release to put said sketch on any Zazzle product of my choice.”
    Patrick pulled out a pencil from his pocket and placed it behind his ear. Throwing an arm over her shoulder, he said, “Come on. Let’s go find the new boy toy of your dreams.”

    • Connolly

      The banter between Carmen and Patrick is very witty and humorous. The dialogue moves the story along without too much exposition, but it would be nice to learn more about Carmen and Patrick through their actions. Great job overall, though!

  2. “Are you okay?” Patrick asked the young woman seated across from him.
    “Yes, thanks.” At his look of disbelief she continued, “It’s been a rough few weeks, but things are starting to look up. I’m adopting the sweetest dog I’ve ever seen.”
    Patrick smiled at the way her red-rimmed brown eyes lit up as she spoke.
    “I’m adopting today, too,” he shared. “I think having a dog will help my grandmother feel less lonely.”
    “Oh, that’s such a lovely thing to do for her. I know all about feeling lonely, so I can assure you this is the perfect gift.”
    When she smiled at him, Patrick felt a strange tightness in his chest. He wondered at this dark-haired woman’s story, but before he had a chance to ask another question the door leading to the kennels swung open and a staff member appeared holding the leash of his grandmother’s new dog.
    “And here’s Lila,” the handler announced to the room.
    Patrick stood. From the corner of his eye he saw that his companion was also on her feet. They took a step forward together before stopping and looking at each other. Then another step in the perfect synchronization of a bizarre dance before realization sank in.
    “You wanted—” he began.
    “Your grandmother—” she spoke at the same time.
    Patrick could have laughed at the ridiculousness of the situation, but he waited to see how she would react first. He didn’t expect her shoulders to drop as she gestured forward and sank back down to her seat. “I’m sure Lila will make her the perfect companion.”
    Patrick’s eyebrows drew together in a frown. “But what about you?”
    “Plenty of animals need adopting, right? I’m sure there’s another one out there for me.” Patrick couldn’t help noticing the way her delicate hand trembled as she waved off his concern.
    He finished crossing the room and took the lead from the shelter staff member, who had been standing and listening awkwardly. But when he turned to lead Lila out of the building he caught the look of longing in the woman’s eyes as she watched Lila walking beside him. Without breaking his stride he altered direction. He held out the leash to the woman who looked up at him with surprise and a glimmer of hope in her eyes.
    “My grandmother might not want the extra work,” Patrick explained hastily. “I’m starting to think a cat might be more her speed. She’s always complaining about having to put on pants to walk to the mailbox every day. I can’t imagine what she’d say about having to walk the neighbourhood three times a day.”
    Before he knew it his arms were full of feminine curves as she jumped into his arms, wrapped her arms around his neck, and hugged him tightly as she laughed. His heart jumped in response to the feel of her against him, and the lightness in her husky laugh, but as quickly as it had started the hug was over and she had dropped to her knees to lavish her new dog with hugs and kisses.
    “I was thinking,” she began softly, and Patrick leaned forward eager to hear her next words, “that maybe I could bring Lila over to visit your grandmother?”
    Patrick’s pulse raced and heat prickled along his skin. He grinned. “I think grams would really like that. Maybe you could help her scan the website for the perfect cat companion?”
    “It might take a while to find the perfect match.” She looked up at him and the dusky pink tinge added some much needed colour to her olive skin. Gone was the broken woman sitting across from him, and in her place was a vibrant and happy person that he really wanted to get to know.
    “Then we’d better get started.” Patrick held out his hand to help her to her feet.
    As her palm slid against his, something inside him shifted and clicked, like a puzzle piece slotting into place. For a moment they just stood and stared at each other, grinning, before Lila wiggled and broke the spell.
    “I’m Patrick,” he said.
    “Carmen.”
    “Can I buy you a drink to celebrate your new dog?”
    “I’d like that.”
    Without letting go of his hold on her, they walked out of the shelter together. Girl and boy and dog.

    • Connolly

      You did a wonderful job pacing this story! It starts off strong and ends with a line the both wraps up the story and leaves the reader wanting more.

  3. Fiona Marsden

    “She’s gorgeous.”
    Carmen wiggled her fingers through the wire, laughing as the Shih Tzu licked them with a pink tongue. “Hello Lila. Do you want to come with me to your forever home?”
    The bright brown eyes seemed to understand as her fluffy tail wagged madly.
    “You clever girl. We are going to have so much fun.” Something Carmen needed badly at this point.
    A shadow fell over the cage.
    “Hey Carmen, what brings you here?”
    Oh my god. “Patrick?” Steadying herself on the wire mesh, Carmen stood, conscious of her messy hair and old jeans. “I wouldn’t have thought you were a pet kind of guy.”
    He looked down at his immaculate chinos and Italian leather loafers. “I’m not here for me. I’m picking up a dog for my grandmother. She needs the company.”
    “That’s nice.” She scanned the other dogs. “Which one is for your gran?”
    Her heart sank as he pointed to Lila.
    “This one. She’ll be perfect for a house pet. Gran doesn’t get out much.”
    “Are you sure? I made an appointment to pick up Lila early in the week.”

    Patrick stared at Carmen. He hated seeing her fold in on herself, her shoulders drooping and her mouth as well. She’d been wilting all week, ever since that skeezy so-called fiancé dumped her. But his gran had the prior claim. “I organised it last weekend.”
    “I guess that’s it then.”
    She looked a little lost as her gaze shifted over the other dogs. Most of them were big ones, not suitable for someone in her situation. She lived in a tiny flat near the office.
    “Sorry. If you aren’t in a hurry, another dog might come up.”
    “I guess. Not too many Shih Tsu females come up.”
    “What did you say?”
    She jerked her head up at his exclamation. “I said Shih Tsu females are hard to find in a shelter. They cost too much from a registered breeder.”
    “So, Lila is a Shitsue. Is that some kind of breed?”
    “Yes. Didn’t you know?”
    “Hell, I just picked her out from the picture.”
    He tapped his fingers against his cellphone, imagining his grandmother telling her friends about her new dog. Carmen must think he was insane the way he was grinning.
    “I think maybe I better look for a different dog for my grandmother.”
    Carmen’s brow creased and then her eyes brightened. “You don’t think your gran would like a Shih Tsu?”
    “Let’s just say, she would find enquiries about the breed rather daunting.”
    He liked the way Carmen’s dark eyes were glowing. Kind of like the ones of the fluffy little dog, gazing adoringly at her. “Looks like you gals are a match made in heaven.”
    “You really mean it. I can have her.”
    “I might want a little recompense for having to search out a new pet for gran.”
    Her smile was delicious. “I could offer you coffee and cookies.”
    He rubbed his chin, playing at giving it some thought. “I will need sustenance for my search.”
    She hesitated. “If you don’t mind waiting…”
    “For cookies, I’ll wait forever.”
    She laughed. “Just until I finalise the paperwork.”

  4. KIMBERLY A WEISS

    Carmen was a perfectionist. She had no time for people who made careless errors, especially of the clerical variety. So she really, really could not understand how this volunteer–good lord, she hoped nobody was paying this individual–could have made such a mistake.

    “Your name is Carmen? Your first name?” he asked. He was a tough looking guy with a tattooed arm and huge ear piercings. You could fit a dime through those holes, Carmen thought.

    “And your name is Carmen, too?”

    “My grandmother’s name is Mrs. Carmen,” said the tall man standing next to her. “My name is Patrick O’Malley.”

    O’Malley, of all people! Didn’t he draw an udder on Anibal the Bull in her award-winning book, “Rodrigo and Anibal Get Married?” It was supposed to be a LGBT book, for heaven’s sake, and he turned one of the bulls into a cow! They became a straight cow couple! And who had to calm down the editor? It wasn’t the man who made the mistake.

    No, her entire life was spent trying to clean up mistakes from the art department and their lax boss. Well, this was the last time. Patrick O’Malley could destroy her life at work, but not at home. It was her dog!

    “How come your grandmother’s name is different than yours?” the volunteer asked. That was it. Carmen (first name) could not stand stupidity.

    “It’s his maternal grandmother, you. . . “

    “Temper, temper,” said Patrick. He turned to the shelter worker. “Look, you put down this Maltese for “Carmen,”right? And you have no idea that you talked to two separate women, correct?”

    “You talked to me first, I know it,” Carmen said.

    “How do you know?” asked Patrick.

    “I just know it.” It was the best she could do.

    “Look,” said Patrick. “Let my grandmother have the Maltese. You can take any of these other dogs.” The other dogs barked appreciatively. They were all huge and vicious looking.

    “I want the Maltese. I requested the Maltese. I have a vision of a perfect, fluffy white dog wearing a red sweater.”

    Patrick rolled his eyes. “Yeah, you have a vision of a lot of perfect things.”

    “What’s that supposed to mean?”

    “Like your vision of the perfect font in the perfect color. Do you know she cost the company $10,000 because I did the title of some book in Roboto Mono instead of Roboto? And it was in turquoise and she wanted aqua?”

    “It wasn’t $10,000!”

    “If you add up all the overtime and the cost of leaving the electricity on all night. . .”

    “All right, enough.” Mrs. Bonnie Carmen interjected, rolling over in her wheelchair. “I don’t know what goes on at work, but I think Paddy is right. There are so many dogs that need homes, I’ll take a different dog.”

    “No, Grandma. Every other dog here is a pitbull. You can’t manage a pitbull with your RA.”

    “That’s silly. Pitbulls have a bad rap for no reason. They’re gentle giants, I’m sure. Bring me the nicest pitbull that’s the closest to being put to sleep and bring Patrick’s friend the Maltese.”

    A few minutes later, Carmen held the Maltese in her hands and Bonnie Carmen held the leash of the largest pitbull she had ever seen.

    “She’s a real sweetheart,” said the shelter worker. “Daisy, her name is. She’s very docile.”

    “This will not end well,” said Patrick.

    “Of course it will,” said Carmen, snuggling her new best friend. “Don’t be so negative.”

    “Me, negative?”

    Before Carmen could respond, a cat jumped from the arms of its new owner across the warehouse-like shelter. Daisy, the gentle pitbull raised her ears and leaned back on her haunches.

    Carmen had seen people riding in chariots in the movies, of course, but it was different in person. Everyone stared in silence as Bonnie’s wheelchair was pulled across the cement floor at what looked like 100 mph. After a second, she was able to free her hand from the loop of the leash, so she didn’t fall out of the wheelchair. Daisy and the cat met in the middle and rubbed snoots.

    “Oh, I forgot. Those two have to be adopted together,” said the shelter employee. “I should’ve written it down.”
    She could not take a large dog and cat. She had room for only one small dog. As usual, she would be disappointed. Wordlessly, she handed the tiny dog to Bonnie.

    “I’ll check your website for another small dog,” she said, swallowing her tears. It could be weeks. Dejected, she started towards the door.

    “Hey,” said Patrick. She turned around. “That was a nice thing you did. Really nice. So listen, my grandma wants to know, can you come to dinner with us next week? You can play with the dog.”

    “I wanted my own dog. I have to have a small one.” There was news from the shelter guy, though.

    “Oh yeah, I forgot to tell you. That little white dog? She’s pregnant. The father was that little black scruffy dog that got adopted last week. I should’ve written it down.”

    “Well, there you go,” said Bonnie. “Would you like a puppy?”

    For the first time, Carmen smiled. A Maltese mutt might not be so bad. What would it be? Black, gray, white, spotted? Maybe a blue sweater would look nice.

    “Sure, I’d love to come to dinner.”

    • Connolly

      You’ve done a wonderful job of demonstrating Carmen and Patrick’s work relationship, which helped you to insert the enemies-to-lovers hook. The end is also really cute! Who doesn’t love a little puppy?

  5. Tolu Bakare

    “Hey Carmen what are you doing here?” Patrick asked giving her a kiss on both cheeks.
    “I’m getting a cute dog of my own today.” Carmen replied beaming.
    “Well someone’s happy. I’m also adopting a dog for Gram. She’s usually home alone so the dog would be her companion.”
    “Do you have a picture?”
    “Of Gram or Lila?”
    “Lila? Who’s that? I was talking about your dog.”
    “Yes Lila is my dog and no I don’t have her picture with me but I’ve paid for her already.”
    “Strange because I’m also picking up a Lila too.”
    “Probably another dog?”
    “Yeah I guess. Come on let’s go get our dogs.”
    “There she is!” Carmen squealed and knelt in front of a cage grinning at the dog inside.
    “That’s Lila.” Patrick said and started laughing.
    “She’s Lila alright.”
    “Oh Miss Carmen,we were waiting for you.” The handler said and brought Lila out, placing her in Carmen’s arms.
    “She’s such a cutie.”
    “It’s a shame though but she’s in good hands now. I guess Gram wouldn’t mind if I got another for her.”
    “Are you sure Pat?I mean I could adopt another…?”
    “No it’s okay and besides Lila can’t stop looking at you.”
    “I love her.”
    “Well she’s yours. Now would you help me find a cutie just like Lila?”
    “Sure let’s go. Come on Lila, we’d need your help.”
    “I’m sure Gram wouldn’t mind if Lila and I came over for dinner sometime?”
    “On the contrary Carmen, she’d be happy to have you both.”
    “I think I found the right one.”
    “Well let’s have a look.”

    • Patience Bloom

      A very cute scene, Tolu! This is a straightforward way to present this conundrum. What you could add to this is some description and action, which would show the scene a bit more for the reader. Well done! –Patience Bloom

  6. Cheryl Anne Graham

    “Sorry ma’am don’t know what a Benji is.”

    “He was a shelter dog. Did some awesome movies in the seventies? You know, a hero to me as a child. How can you not know Benji?”

    The door’s chimes rang as it opened.

    “Who doesn’t know Benji?” Patrick walked up to the counter.

    “Benji was one of the best dogs ever!”

    The clerk looked at them with that, “mature people be crazy look.”

    “Wow Patrick, fancy meeting you here on a Saturday. Don’t you have some woman you’re attempting to bed later this evening?

    Laughing, he said,” Why yes but that is a bit later. Right now I’m here for my nanny. She is lonely and I can’t spend all my time with her. You know she is not completely fond of my girlfriends.”

    “You mean “girlfriends.”

    “Hey, you don’t need to use the air quotes!”

    “But you know how much I enjoy using them.”

    “You know, if you are good to me, I might let you come see my nanny’s dog. She looks just like Benji.”

    “Isn’t that a coincidence? “My new dog looks just like Benji too, that’s why I’m talking about it.”

    “Wow dog twins.”

    Patrick opened his phone. “See? “Here’s my dog.”

    “What a…Hey wait a minute! That’s my dog! Where did you get a photo of my dog!”

    “Your dog! She’s been picked out for me. Even put a deposit down. Did you put a deposit down?”

    “Why no! I didn’t think I had to.”

    They both stared at the eighteen year old clerk who put up his hands.

    “Let me go get the manager,” he said.

    “You know what this means?”

    “What?”

    “You’re going to have to move in with my grandmother if you want to see the dog.”

    “I have a better idea,” she said putting her hand on his chest.

    “Why don’t you move in with me? Your granny can come and visit.”

    “I’ll mull it over while I’m helping my nanny, with her dog,” he said smiling the sexiest smile she’d ever seen.

    “Woof,” “Benji” came out of the kennel entrance with the manager and the attendant.

    “Let’s see who she comes to. Here, Benji! Here girl,” Carmen raised her arms, and made come to me motions with them.

    Patrick chuckled. “Benji, here. I’ve got bacon in my pocket.”

    “You do not.”

    But Benji didn’t go to either of them. When they put her down she made a beeline for the outside lobby.

    “After that dog!” They all said together.

    • Patience Bloom

      Ha! This scene made me laugh, Cheryl. I love how the dog makes the decision in the end. Also nice is how you present the hero and heroine’s relationship through dialogue. Next time, don’t forget to give the reader some visuals–physical and setting descriptions. Nice job. –Patience Bloom

  7. David

    Always punctual, Carmen was mortified as she entered ten minutes late for her appointment. She wiped the sweat from her brow as she rushed and checked in at the front desk. Carmen had built in plenty of travel time when planning her day, but an accident had led to unexpected delays.
    “We’ll have her right out for you,” the receptionist said warmly. “You can have a seat over there.”
    Carmen turned toward the navy upholstered bench, but she didn’t move toward it once she saw who occupied it.
    “Well if it isn’t Newberry’s brightest young editor,” teased Patrick without rising to greet her. He has started as an art director at Newberry this earlier that year. Instead of the usual button up and slacks he wore around the office, this Saturday his strong physique was dressed casually in basketball shorts and a hoodie. She couldn’t help but take a peek up his shorts the way he was manspreading.
    “What are you doing here?” She finally moved to sit down. “Are you following me?”
    “As fun as that sounds, I’m actually here to meet a dog.”
    “Really?” Carmen let more of her surprise creep into her tone than she planned.
    “I know, meeting animals at an animal shelter is a novel concept.”
    “Sorry, I just never pegged you as a pet person.”
    Patrick feigned offense. “Now why would you say that?”
    “Well, it’s just that pets are a lot of work and you don’t seem like the kind of guy to do well with responsibility.” Past images sprang to kind of Patrick showing up late for work and pushing their deadlines.
    “The dog is for my grandmother.”
    “I knew it!”
    “Who I take care of. I thought having a dog around would keep her active and provide company when I’m not there.”
    Carmen immediately felt like a jerk. Here she was accusing him of being a slacker when he seemed to have more responsibilities than Carmen did.
    “That’s a nice gesture,” she told him seriously.
    “Besides, you’re the one I never pegged for a pet person.”
    “What is that supposed to mean?” Carmen turned in her seat to glare at him.
    “Well, you’re always such a control freak. How are you going to handle another living creature in your home, messing up your space?”
    “If you must know, my space has felt a little empty lately.”
    “Uh oh, trouble in paradise?”
    “Paradise is officially lost.” She sat back to avoid looking Patrick in the eye. “Javier broke up with me.”
    “I’m sorry to hear that,” he said softly. “It’s his loss.”
    “Yeah, right.”
    Carmen stared at the floor.
    “I’m serious,” Patrick reassured her. “You’ve got a good job and great stems,” he said, playfully smacking her thigh where the hem of her shorts stretched across.
    “And you’re back to being a pig.”
    “Why did Jose break up with you anyway? Was there someone else?”
    “It’s Javier, and no, nothing like that. He said I was too particular. Critical. Controlling.”
    Carmen regretted saying that last word as soon as it escaped her mouth. Patrick latched onto it and started laughing.
    “You couldn’t control your boyfriend, so you’re getting a dog?”
    “Shut up! What would you know? It’s not like your grandma can break up with you!”
    Carmen slid down to the other end of the bench.
    “Ouch! And here I was thinking there might be a human side to the uptight bitch of the children’s imprint.”
    The door to the back opened and the unmistakable sound of four paws prancing on linoleum could heard.
    “Here she is!”
    The cutest Yorkie Carmen had ever seen looked up at her eagerly, then looked to Patrick with her tail wagging.
    “Aww, are you ready to go to your forever home, Lila?” Patrick asked in a baby voice.
    “Yes, she is.” Carmen smiled at Patrick. “With me.”
    Patrick looked confused. “Um, get your own dog.”
    “I mean this IS the dog I’m here to see.”
    “Well there must be some mistake, because this is the dog I’m here to adopt.”
    “Oh dear.” The shelter worker was dismayed. “Not this again.”
    “You mean this has happened before?” Carmen’s tone was sharp. “What kind of place are you running here?”
    “Easy, Tiger,” Patrick tried to calm her down. “I’m sure it was just a simple mixup. They can find you another dog.”
    “You don’t understand,” she insisted. “I’ve spent the past week checking all of the local shelters looking for the perfect dog. You can get a different dog for your grandmother.”
    “We have plenty of other dogs avail-“
    “Stay out of this!” Carmen and Patrick snapped.
    “Come on, Patrick. I need this.”
    “So do I.”
    “I just need something to go according to plan. I feel like I’m spiraling without any control here,” she begged sincerely.
    “Look,” Patrick faced her and met her eyes. “I’ve already bought the collar and harness. I know it’s not going to be easy. I know it’s going to take long hours and sleepless nights for proper training. I’m not leaving here without a beautiful bitch to introduce to my grandmother!”
    Carmen breathed heavily, trying to quell her flaring temper.
    “So what do you say?” He winked at her. “I’ll let you bring the dog, too.”

    • Patience Bloom

      David, I like how you create emotional tension between the two characters. It’s hard to see them getting along, but their banter could lead to more. Nice description of the characters and POV to offset the dialogue. Nice job! –Patience Bloom

  8. Kendra Peterson

    “Your grandmother?”
    Patrick had seen that face before. It was the same kind of face Carmen made when she was staring at a word that didn’t belong in a sentence or a plot that just didn’t make sense. For someone who edited and crafted stories about lollipops and sunflowers, she sure was cynical.
    He nodded at her unbelieving glare. “Yes, my grandmother.”
    “Creating a sob story about an old lady waiting for a puppy is low, Patrick.” She grunted. “Everybody loves old people and pets.”
    Cynical. Very much so, Patrick didn’t know how much until now. As she stood there in her expensive peacoat with her arms full of every chew toy known to man and a huge bag of Chow Down food by her red high heels, it was clear that this woman never owned a dog in her life. Patrick never saw a picture of one on her desk or heard her mention an interest in animals. Except for the ones in the books they created but those were paintings, drawings, images — his images.
    “I would never lie about my grandmother and Lila is not a puppy, she’s a full-grown mutt. Do you even know her at all, Carmen?”
    “Of course, Patrick.”
    “And I supposed those books are going to tell you how to care for a dog?” He motioned to the pile of dog owner guides in the crook of her arm.
    “Okay, I get it.” Carmen plopped her purchases on the floor. “You were raised in Nebraska.”
    “Texas.” He corrected.
    “You grew up on a hog farm.”
    “There were other animals in attendance.” He corrected, again.
    “And you milked a million cows and helped a bull deliver a baby.”
    “Bulls are male, and it was a lamb. I helped deliver a lamb.” Pleased. Patrick felt pleased with himself. Carmen on the other hand was not impressed.
    “You may know animals better than me but that doesn’t mean I can’t give Jewel a loving home.”
    He scrunched his face. “Jewel?”
    “Yes, Jewel.”
    The mutt in question peeked up from her water bowl at the sound of a name that was foreign to her. Patrick bent down to her cage—something that her highness had yet to do in the thirty minutes they had been standing there—and rubbed the golden fur through the wire.
    “Did you hear that Lila? This stranger wants to change your name to Jewel.”
    “Don’t talk to her.” Carmen huffed.
    “What do you have against the name Lila anyway?”
    “Nothing.” There was a whole lot of something behind that simple ‘nothing’. Patrick cocked a brow and she folded a little. “It’s the name of my ex’s mother.”
    “And you hate her?”
    “I hate him.” She said with conviction. He stood, meeting her gaze. Carmen was always so guarded that the small vulnerable moment seemed surreal. He didn’t expect an explanation, after all they were just co-workers and they did co-worker things. Standing in the middle of an animal shelter on Valentine’s Day, arguing about a dog they both wanted was the most non- co-worker thing they had ever done. As much as he liked every minute of it, they had to make a choice.
    “Maybe the clerk was right. We should let her decide.” Patrick thought out loud. It was the manager’s solution to this mix up. How could they double book a pup was beyond him, but he was starting to see the value in unlocking the cage and seeing who Lila would come to.
    “I agree.” The smug look on Carmen’s face was odd. Too odd and too easy.
    Then it hit him. “Actually, never mind.”
    “Why?” She innocently asked as if she wasn’t standing there with squeaky toys and chew bones. Not to mention she looked as though she lived in a mansion in Hollywood. Meanwhile, he had nothing but a jean pocket full of lent and a shirt that had paint stains on the sleeves. He looked like he lived in an artsy cardboard box.
    “You’ve got the upper hand. Lila will take one step out that cage and haul ass to you. If I was Lila I would haul ass to you and go home in a minute.” That didn’t sound right. Patrick quickly clarified his words. “If I was a dog, of course.”
    “Of course.” She mocked him.

    • Patience Bloom

      Dear Kendra, There is something so sweet between these two characters are they bicker over the dog. They seem complex, as well as compatible in some weird way. The dialogue is nicely-paced and I like how you include descriptions and give us a sense of setting. Well done! –Patience Bloom

  9. Libby Kay

    The thought of going home to an empty bed was too much for Carmen to bear. Her heart hammered in her chest as she roamed the lines of kennels at the animal shelter. Surely, she couldn’t find someone to replace her ex, but she could find someone to keep her company.

    The perky teenager at the front said all of the dogs were available, so all she had to do was fall in love. That shouldn’t be too hard, right?

    Just as Carmen thought she might not find true love, she stopped in front of Lila. A stout French bulldog, Lila jumped on her hind legs as soon as Carmen knelt in front of her.

    “You’re a beauty, aren’t you?” Carmen ruffled the top of Lila’s head, loving the soft feel of her fur.

    Before she had time to continue her love fest with Lila, Carmen hear the teen and a man approach. It wouldn’t have taken her away from the moment, but he had the most striking blue eyes she’d ever seen.

    The man stopped abruptly when he saw Carmen petting Lila, and he frowned. “Can I help you?”

    Carmen sprang to her feet and nodded. “Yes, I’m here to take Lila home.”

    The man shot a look to the teen, who was now studying the dirt pattern on her sneakers. “I thought you said everything was in order? I’m here to take Lila home.”

    At the sound of her name, Lila barked. But Carmen was not deterred. “Look, Mister. I’m sure you’re a nice guy, but Lila is coming home with me.” She crossed her arms over her chest. She meant business, gorgeous eyes be damned.

    “My name’s Patrick, and I don’t care if you’re the Queen of England, she’s coming home with me.”

    “I was told all of the dogs here were available.” She hesitated, “and I’m 25th in line to the throne.” Carmen cringed at the lie.

    “Now I’m going to burst your bubble, your highness, but this dog is coming with me. I got her for my grandmother, even if you’re the highest ranking royal in the kennel.” A smile tugged at Patrick’s lips at the decidedly un-royal woman standing before him in yoga pants.

    “Let’s let Lila decide, hm? Carmen felt confident she’d come out on top. Despite his looks, Carmen knew he was no match for her love of all God’s creatures. Well, for except her ex.

    Patrick flipped the kennel door open, and Lila scampered out in front of them. Patrick snapped his fingers and ordered Lila to come. Rather than respond, she continued to dance around them, stopping long enough to sneeze.

    “Seems like a perfect dog for a septuagenarian.”

    “What makes you think Lila isn’t the perfect dog for her?” Before he could continue his argument, Lila lifted her leg and relieved herself all over his pant leg.

    “You certainly have a way with the ladies, Patrick.” Carmen bit back a smile, because the look on his face was too precious.

    Straining to keep his composure, Patrick knelt down and tried to scoop Lila up. She bolted over to Carmen, nudging her at the ankles. “Wow, this is starting to get embarrassing.”

    Once more, Patrick frowned at the scene before him. He knew his grandmother would feel a million times better with a companion, especially this hound, who seemed to be in love with a royal wannabe from New Jersey.

    Another thing he knew was that Carmen was adorable, and he didn’t want to be the reason to make her sad. He could see a weight that was bringing her down, and he wanted to be the reason to make her smile.

    Carmen picked up Lila, who nestled into her arms. “Let’s compromise,” she said.

    In that exact moment, Patrick said, “let’s figure something out.”

    They both laughed, and Carmen felt a flush creep up her skin. She could get used to the sound of Patrick laughing. “How about I help you find the perfect dog for your grandmother, and you buy me lunch?”

    Patrick erupted with laughter. “So you’re telling me, you’d get the dog and a free meal? You might actually be the Queen of England.” Carmen curtsied, Lila yelping in agreement. Extending his arm, he looped it through her elbow and led the way into the kennel. The day had turned out better than he could have hoped.

  10. Yvette Martin

    Hi! I’m Carmen and I’m here to pick up my new best friend Lila, because dogs can be trusted more than men
    That’s impossible, Carmen because Lila is coming home with me. Hi, I’m Patrick.
    Just like a man to try and change things without asking first.
    I have an appointment too, so my feeble male mind didn’t just pull Lila out of thin air.
    Well Patrick, I was here first, so she’s going home with me.
    Excuse me sir/ma’am it seems there was a mix up and both of you were given the same rescue dog. If you would give me just a minute, I will straighten this mess out for both of you.
    Carmen, I came to puck up Lila for my sweet old Nana. I would feel better knowing she had some type of companionship while, I’m at work. You don’t want to be responsible for my Nana being alone?
    You don’t have to lay it thick, I’ll find another rescue dog. It’s just I had my heart set on Lila. Since, my boyfriend and I broke up. But, for your s_____
    Pati,Pati would you hurry it up! I told you girls I would make the margaritas before we head up to the casinos tonight. I need to be dressed and ready by 8:30. Step on it or you’re gonna get left.
    Nana, I’m taking care of that errand I had to run. Please wait in the car for me.
    Patrick gave Carmen a lopsided grin, you can’t blame a man for trying. I wanted to adopt a rescue dog to give my Nana something to do so she would stay out of my love life. She tries to fix me up with her friend’s daughters, granddaughters, nieces and since I declined she even wanted to know if a son would do!
    Grow up and tell Nana the truth, because Pati; Lila is coming home with me, bye-bye,said Carmen.

    • Deirdre

      You hooked me with your first line! I’m enjoying all the lively Carmens in this challenge, and it’s really fun to see how everyone uses humour. Yvette, I had a little trouble following what was happening because of the missing quotation marks. But I enjoyed your scene – and Patrick’s margarita-drinking grandma!

  11. Wendy

    Carmen strode into the shelter full of confidence. Today, she would take home Lila, the adorable little dog in the picture online. Unsure about adopting a pet at first, the photo of Lila had changed her mind. And once Carmen made up her mind, there was little that could be done to change it.
    “I am here to pick up Lila,” she beamed at the girl at the front desk.
    Nervously twisting her hair, the girl hesitatingly answered, “I’m sorry. We have had a mix-up.”
    Before the young woman could finish, Carmen heard a familiar male voice, “Lila was actually already promised to me.”
    “You?” Carmen turned to face Patrick, the new guy from the office. “You already have a dog.”
    “How do you know I have a dog?”
    “Your dog’s picture is all over your computer screen.”
    “When did you ever see my computer screen?” he asked, looking thoroughly perplexed.
    Suddenly realizing her mistake, Carmen fumbled for words. She couldn’t tell him she had a friend in his department that had been checking him out for her.
    “Everyone knows you have a dog!” She protested in an effort to distract him, then emphasized, “Besides, I need this dog.”
    Tilting his head, he looked at her as if she were a young child, and asked with a note of sarcasm, “Why exactly do you need this dog?”
    Shifting uneasily, not really wanting to tell him the truth, but figuring it couldn’t hurt anything now, she proceeded, “I just went through a very difficult breakup with my boyfriend and some people have suggested I get a dog.”
    “By difficult, you mean he dumped you and by some people you probably mean your therapist.”
    Stunned by his response, Carmen just stood there a moment before hesitatingly replying, “And what exactly makes you say that?”
    To her surprise, she could see the red creeping up his neck as he cleared his throat. Could it be that he had been asking around about her?
    His demeanor, that had been so sarcastic, had suddenly softened, “Look, I’ll just tell grams the dog wasn’t right for her. You go ahead and take it.”
    Standing there shocked, blinking, as she saw him in a new light, she touched his arm as she asked, “By grams, do you mean this dog was for your grandmother?”
    “That’s correct, but you take it.”
    He seemed in a hurry to go now. Making a split-second decision, Carmen rushed out the shelter door after him.
    “Wait! I think grams should have her.”
    “Are you sure? What about your break-up?” he asked, his voice full of concern.
    “I’ll manage.”
    The smile they exchanged as she handed him the dog let her know she probably wouldn’t be bemoaning her ex much longer.

  12. Lakisha Friday

    Carmen pulled up to the Pooches and Caboodles Animal Shelter. She was about to get out of her car when another vehicle pulled up beside her blocking her exit. Fuming she rolled down the window of the driver’s side and yelled at the the driver of the car next to her. Come to find out the driver is Patrick.
    “Patrick! Move your car over! Didn’t you see my door open? You nearly hit my car!” Carmen yelled.
    “Sorry! Patrick apologizes, I wasn’t paying any attention. I was talking to my grandma on the phone.” But he doesn’t bother repositioning his car so she could get out.
    Instead he hurries into the shelter. Furious even more Carmen had to get out of the other side and ran into the shelter to give him a piece of her mind when she saw him holding the cutest pup she had ever seen and the pup she had came to get.
    “Patrick! First of all you better move your car and if you dent or scratch it your butt is grass. Second of all put down my dog! Carmen said reaching for the puppy whose name is Lila.
    “No! She’s my grandma’s dog. I came to pick her up. They look at each other then realized they were after the same dog.
    “So… What are we going to do? Carmen asked.
    “Well since I got here first, she’s mine. Patrick said rubbing the puppy’s head.
    “If you hadn’t blocked me in you nitwit, I would have gotten her first. Carmen pointed out.
    “Is that what you called that boyfriend of yours? Patrick teased.
    “Nope, Carmen smiled mischievously, I called him much, much, worst. Now hand over my dog.
    Patrick holds Lila away from Carmen. “Nope, she’s my grandma’s baby now.
    “No, Baby Lila is mine and you know it. Carmen said. You’d knew I would be interested in her and you tried to get her first. ” Carmen detected. Patrick laughed and admitted he knew but insisted that he didn’t know they were getting the same dog.
    “Okay, let’s fix this here and now, Patrick said putting Lila on the floor. How about Rock, Paper, Scissors?
    “What? Carmen laughs. Are you serious right now?
    Yeah. Patrick said. Let’s play.
    “Alright then. Carmen agrees, winner takes Lila home, and if you lose-
    “I won’t lose. Patrick interrupts, now let’s do this.
    Rock! Paper! Scissors! Shoot!

    • Deirdre

      I love that you named the animal shelter. 🙂 And your dialogue is lively and natural. Closer attention to tenses, punctuation and the little editorial details will help keep the reader in the moment. Thanks for a fun scene, Lakisha!

  13. Kathryn

    It was not every day you adopted a dog. Patrick was belting out that song, the one that came out in 2000, “who let the dogs out, woof, woof, woof, woof, woof.” The year he lived with his grandma, she put the song on repeat when he had trouble getting up for school and it had made things easier. Now that she was getting frail he was surprising her with a cute dog as a birthday present.

    He had to do some negotiating with the nursing staff but Little Lila would make her move to a care home easier.
    You haven’t heard loud until you walk into an animal shelter. The dogs waiting for adoption barked wildly as he walked in. He cranked up the volume as high as it could go to let them know he understood what it was like waiting for someone to say that they loved you enough to take you home.

    Was it inevitable that a girl would walk in to shush the party?
    Except this wasn’t a soft shush, it was a decisive “No way I am letting you take my dog even if you are giving her to your Grandmother.”
    Things would have been easier if Patrick had not been trying to bust a move and holding the paws of a Great Dane who liked to run circles around him. It was hard to pay attention to someone and dance with a dog nearly as big as you.

    He fell right into the arms of Carmen, the children’s book editor from work. Her pale skin was stained red and she stamped her foot. Avoiding her outbursts was taking up too much of his time at work and now here she was on a Saturday morning, all five foot two of her.
    “LL is with me,” Patrick said picking up the little ball of fluff out of her arms. “Thanks for bringing her up I got turned around trying to find reception.”
    “I came in last week,” Carmen yelled.
    “I got a receipt,” Patrick shot back pulling out a printed slip with dog care instructions.
    The standoff made all the dogs sit down and look at them.
    “Who is the grown-up here?” the Great Dane seemed to say and ate the receipt.

    “You seem a little down lately?” he asked her.
    “What would you know?” Carmen demanded.
    “Red lines all over the design I did for that children’s book, last week, you were supposed to do an edit not destroy it. Now it’s Saturday and you are here yelling at me.”
    “My boyfriend took a job in Australia and didn’t leave me an address,” she said before she could stop herself.
    LL stood up and nuzzled Carmen. She reached down smiling and picked up the ball of fluff.
    “Doggone lovable,” Patrick said. “You keep her, Lila’s a real friend and she made her choice.”
    “What about your grandmother, the reception told me you were first in line for her?”
    “What the heck, Granny told me once she always wanted a Great Dane for company. Nobody can ignore a lady in a wheelchair with a huge dog.”
    “Her care home doesn’t have rules?” Carmen asked faintly.
    “No restrictions on companion dogs,” he laughed.
    Her face went from laughing to serious, “I can’t let you do that to a nursing staff,” she said, handing him Lila.
    The joke had gone too far, her eyes were full of tears.
    He took her face in his hands and kissed her cheek, “I’m not giving Granny the Great Dane, and I’m taking him home. The shelter found Granny a toy poodle called “oodles”, and he’s perfect.”
    Carmen grinned at him, “Want to go shopping for a pet bed with me?”
    He nodded.
    “Oh, and by the way it’s who, who, who, who, who!” she said.
    “What?” he yelled.
    “Not what! It’s who let the dogs out, who who, who, who, who.”
    “Editors,” he said, “you can’t live with them, you can’t live without them.”

  14. Marianne

    “Carmen, so great to see you. And on my day off too.”
    Carmen never could tell when Patrick was being sarcastic. She suspected he walked that humour line for his own amusement.
    “Patrick.” She acknowledged, without making eye contact.
    “Not a morning person then.” He moved the Paw Prints sign aside and leaned on the receptionist’s counter. There was no receptionist telling him not to. “Or is it a Saturday thing?”
    “Maybe it’s a ‘I like my privacy thing.’”
    “Sure. I won’t tell anyone in the office there’s a heart under that frosty exterior.” He looked left and right then whispered, “And the heart yearns for cute little rescue dogs.” He exaggerated a zipping of the lips action.
    She rolled her eyes at him.
    “Oh, so it’s big scary dogs then?”
    She couldn’t help smile. “No. Lila is in fact, a cute little mutt of indeterminable breed.”
    “Lila?”
    “Yes. From today forward it’ll be Lila and me against the world.”
    “Power to you.”
    They waited in silence for several seconds. “Bad break up then?” he asked.
    Her eyebrows shot to her hairline. “I beg your pardon.”
    “You know, girls against the world sounds like some rat-fink boy did you wrong.”
    Colin was definitely rat-fink.
    “Again, the privacy thing.”
    “Was it Colin from marketing? Or should I say Commitment-phobe Colin?”
    “You know Colin?” she blurted. One day she would think before she spoke.
    Compassion flashed through his eyes for a second. “Everyone knows Colin.”
    Everyone knew. Well isn’t that dandy.
    Patrick coughed. Not in the way someone did when they were sick but in the way someone did when they didn’t know what to say. “Ah, did you say you’re getting Lila?”
    “Yes.”
    “Scruffy mutt?”
    “Yes.”
    “Well, Carmen, your Saturday is about to get a whole lot worse.”
    “Why is that?”
    “Because I’m also here to collect Lila, of the mongrel variety.”
    “What?”
    “It seems there is a mix up.”
    “Perfect.”
    “I propose we just buzz saw straight through Lila. You keep half and my gran keeps half. Which side would you like? Left or right?”
    She was speechless.
    “Not fussy then. Well, how about Gran takes the right? Though when you meet her for your weekly put-Lila-together catch-ups be sure not to call her Gran. Her name is ‘Evelyn-thank-you-very-much.’”
    Despite herself, she smiled. When was the last time she actually spoke with Patrick? The office Christmas party? She couldn’t remember. She had been too busy falling for the charms of smarmy Colin.
    “So, it seems I’m going to have to encroach on your privacy a little longer while we work this out. You can tell me all about the horrible Colin if you like.”
    “Unlikely.” She ran her hand through her hair. “You can tell me about your Gran though.”
    “Ah, excuse me?” A young couple entered the shelter and approached the desk. “We’re here to collect Lila.”
    Carmen and Patrick looked at each other. ‘She’s ours,’ they said in unison.