By Kathe Malouf
Special to the Sun
Like many 6th grade students, Jillian Barr has a best friend.
But Barr’s best friend is not your typical BFF. He is five years old, a rather tall and hairy red head who has four legs and outweighs the Lake Isabella girl by about 40 pounds.
Barr’s best friend is her dog, “Hudson,” a mixed breed of Retriever/Nova Scotia Toller. And while she loves talking about Hudson, last month, Barr put her passion for her pooch on to paper in the form of an essay for the Kern County Pet Fair’s Greatest Pet Story writing competition.
And the little girl with the big dog won first place.
Barr learned about the Kern County Pet Fair essay contest from one of her teachers, Sherry Lanza. Students from throughout the county were asked to write a story about the friendship and love they have for their pet.
The 60-pound girl loves to talk about her 100-pound dog. So, writing a story about Hudson was a simple task for Barr because to her, Hudson is the greatest pet.
She wasn’t expecting to win, although Barr admitted that she was hoping to win in her age division, which included 5th and 6th grade students from throughout Kern County. But much to her surprise and delight, she took first place over all the other 70 entrees.
Barr was invited to read her winning essay to a large crowd of students, parents and contest personnel during the Kern County Pet Fair held in Bakersfield at the fairgrounds on Oct. 14.
“I was nervous,” Barr said. “My mom and Hudson were the only people in the audience that I knew.”
Barr was limited to 500 words for her essay, although she could have written volumes more about her big red dog. She talks excitedly about how Hudson loves cats and kittens, loves hikes, camping, and water – to a certain extent.
“When he sees water, he is in it, but he does not swim and he won’t go in all the way, just up to his neck. He stays on shore and cries,” she said. “But he likes jumping over the waves when we take him to the beach.”
The Wallace Middle School student said she enjoys writing, something that seems to run in the family. Her father, Dave Barr, has written and published several books. Her mother, Susan Barr, is the former editor of the Kern Valley Sun.
“I was really proud of Jillian up on stage reading her story in front of all those people,” Susan Barr said. “She was a little nervous but her great story really conveyed how our pets, and Hudson in particular, are such an important part of our lives.”
As the first place winner, Barr received a trophy and a professional photo portrait of her and Hudson courtesy of Brandon Rose of Moment Portraits of Bakersfield. For Hudson, all the attention was a bit much, and posing for the portrait was something of a challenge, Barr said with a smile.
“He would not sit still,” Barr said. “He kept rolling around and sticking his nose in my hair.”
Barr’s entry about her beloved dog captured the essence of the essay theme, said contest coordinator Pat Moland.
“Jillian Barr’s entry won the 2017 distinction of the Kern County Pet Fair’s Greatest Pet Story because her story exemplified on all counts the irreplaceable an invaluable role our wonderful pets play in our families and community,” Moland said. “Hudson, Jillian’s pet Retriever/Nova Scotia Duck Toller has more than shown his gratitude after rescued and adopted into the Barr family. He is a protector, but most of all, a best friend.”
Following is Jillian Barr’s first-place essay:
“A Girl’s Best Friend”
Some people say diamonds are a girl’s best friend. That does not apply to me though, because my best friend is my dog Hudson.
Hudson is probably one of the best things that ever happened to my family. So I’m going to tell you the story about my best friend. It all started when my mom was in the Harbor Freight parking lot in Bakersfield and she saw a beautiful dog limping across the parking lot. She called him over and he came right to her. When she crouched down to pat him, he leaned up against her and she smelled a really bad smell and when she looked down she saw a huge gash where his stomach had been cut open.
My mom immediately called animal control to come and help. While she was waiting for them to come she sat on the ground and he lay down and he rested his head in her lap. Up until then my mom always said she was a cat person. She told us afterwards that she became a dog person that morning when she fell in love with Hudson.
When the animal control officer came she looked at Hudson and said it looked like he had jumped a chain link fence and had ripped his belly open. She thought he had been walking around a few days like that because the cut had gangrene. She asked my mom if she would be willing to adopt him if they could save his life. She said yes right away.
About two weeks later, we got a call to come down and get our beautiful dog and foster him for two weeks and see how he would do in our house with three cats. He had to wear a big cone on his neck and would keep banging into things which was really funny. We took him down for the animal control vet to check out after the two weeks was over and we adopted him so he had his own forever family.
Ever since then we have done everything with Hudson, we take him on hikes, he goes camping and sleeps in our tent, and he even greets people outside our family’s cafe. And yes… he loves cats and even stayed by Momma Cats side when she gave birth to her four kittens. He would even let them sleep on him and snuggle in his long fur.
People always stop us and ask what kind of dog he is (Retriever/Nova Scotia Duck Toller) and say that he is so beautiful. Women ask us what shade his auburn hair color is so they can dye it the same color.
So we have a deal with Hudson, he gives us love, he protects us and is our dog, and we give him love and shelter and lots of treats. This is why Hudson is my best friend and always will be.