Harry, a Prince of a Dog
by Suzanne Purvis
Once there was a prince named Harry, who acted quite princely during the day, but at night he was a real dog. Not a scary, werewolf-type dog, but a pleasant, slightly plump, spotted mutt with stubby legs and a long, swishy tail. Cursed by an evil witch, Prince Harry transformed into a dog every night when the sun set. And when the sun rose the next morning, Harry became a prince again.
Prince Harry had lived with this curse for many years, so this evening, like so many others, he walked down to the kingdom’s beach to be alone. He dug his toes into the warm, wet sand. But as the last ray of sunlight sank into the blue-green waves, the warm sand now tickled the pads of his furry paws.
Harry stretched his four furry legs, swished his long tail, and trotted along the water’s edge. His floppy ears bounced, and his tongue hung out. He dove, nose first into the sand, rolling and wiggling. The grainy bits itched his back and belly, and he howled in delight, “AOOOOOOOOO.” Being a dog on warm sand wasn’t awful. But it was lonely.
Then Harry heard a SPLASH! And a SQUAWK! He sat up and looked around.
There, flapping on the waves, floated the ugliest bird Harry had ever seen. It had a huge, droopy beak, greyish brown feathers, and sounded like an out-of-tune trumpet. Harry watched as the strange bird paddled toward him.
“What are you looking at? Haven’t you ever seen a pelican crash land?” the bird said, waddling onto the sand.
Harry shook his head, spraying sand.
“Yikes. You’re a sandy dog, aren’t you?“ The pelican scratched his small head with a huge bent wing. “Strange though, I’ve never seen a dog in this kingdom before.”
Harry, as a dog, did not get to speak often. But using his best royal manners he said, “Hello, strange bird, I am Prince Harry.” He bowed his spotted head slightly. “And you’ve not seen a dog here because, alas, this is a cat-lover’s kingdom. And I am the only dog.”
The pelican blinked. “Only cats? Yikes. But wait. You said you’re a prince?”
Harry sat. “Yes. I am a dog at night and a human prince by day. I’ve been cursed.”
The pelican shifted on his large webbed feet. “A curse. Yikes.” Then the pelican attempted a bow. “I am pleased to meet you, your Highness. My name is Pelican Pete. But you can call me Pete.”
Harry nodded. “Nice to meet you, Pete.”
Pete shook his tail feathers and sat. “There must be some way to break this curse of yours? There’s always a way. Maybe I can help. What do you have to do? Guess a name? Find a dragon’s fang? Slay a giant?”
Harry’s ears drooped. “No, the only way to break my curse is with the kiss of a fair maiden.”
“Yikes.” Pete said. He scratched an itch under his wing. “Wait. That shouldn’t be too hard. You’re a prince. Who wouldn’t want to kiss a prince?”
Harry scratched an itch with his back leg. “Sadly, the maiden must kiss me when I am in dog form.”
Pete gulped. “Yikes. Well, why don’t you go tell some maiden your sad tale and ask her to kiss you? When you’re a dog. I’m sure a maiden would kiss a dog for money or a date with a prince?”
Harry howled. “Noooooooo. No human other than the King and Queen can ever know of the curse. If a human were to find out, I would be turned into a dog both day and night. Forever.”
“Yikes.” Pete stretched his long neck. “Okay. Breaking this curse is not so easy. But look, sooner or later, some maiden will kiss you. You’re cute in a fat, pudgy, puppy way.”
Harry sighed. “It’s not likely. This is a cat-lover’s kingdom. And besides, I only have two more days.”
“Two days?” Pete squawked. “Why only two days?”
“Because in two days I will have my eighteenth birthday. And if I have not been kissed by then, I will be doomed to dog form both day and night.”
“SQUAWK. SQUAWK. SQUAWK!” Pete shrieked.
Harry covered his ears with his paws.
Pete squawked and flapped his wings, waddling around Harry.
“What are you doing?” Harry shouted.
“I’m thinking,” Pete said. Then he stopped and stood on one leg. He pointed a wing at Harry. “And… I have a solution to your problem.”
Harry’s ears perked. His tail wagged. No one had been able to help him in all these years.
“We’ll leave in the morning,” Pete said, and he settled down to sleep.
“Where are we going?” Harry asked.
“I know a place where you’ll have a much better chance of being kissed.” Pete closed his eyes.
The next morning they set off. Prince Harry, now a human, sat astride his fastest stallion, and Pete flew overhead.
The two companions traveled all day through thick forests, over rolling hills, and across a wide river. When the sun set, they continued on. Harry, now on his stubby dog legs dragging a satchel of clothes, and Pete squawking, “Hurry up.”
Finally, as dawn broke the following morning, they came upon a kingdom that Harry had never been to. Once more human, Prince Harry strolled into the town with Pete waddling beside him. And, for the first time in a long, long while, Prince Harry felt his mouth twitch into a smile. Because…walking in the colorful market square, people bustled and scurried along with their dogs. Lots, and lots of dogs! All breeds, all sizes, and many of the dogs were dressed in fancy costumes. Some wore wide lace collars or satin capes. Some wore big felt hats with bright feathers. And not a cat in sight.
All of a sudden Prince Harry stopped short.
“Hey, a little warning next time,” Pete squawked, rubbing the end of his beak. He had run his beak into the Prince’s back, but Prince Harry didn’t notice.
Pete followed the Prince’s gaze. “Oh, The Barkery. It’s a costume and treat shop for dogs. I bet you’ve never seen such a shop.” Pete puffed his feathered chest. “This is all part of my plan.”
But Prince Harry didn’t speak. He didn’t move. He just stared in the window of the shop.
Pete went on. “You see, even if you don’t get kissed by a girl by tomorrow, you could live here.” Pete swept his wings wide. “Sure, you’d be a dog forever. But you’d be in a dog-lover’s kingdom. Much better than that cat-filled kingdom of yours.”
Still Prince Harry didn’t speak.
Pete poked him with his beak. “What’s going on? I know a cat can’t have got your tongue. Not here. What’s up?”
Prince Harry pointed into the shop. “Look. Isn’t she the most beautiful maiden you have ever seen? Her smile, it’s radiant. And she works in a dog shop. She must love dogs,” Prince Harry gushed.
Pete gave Harry a shove. “Go on, then. Less than twenty-four hours, remember?”
Prince Harry and Pete stepped into the small shop. It smelled heavenly, like fresh baked biscuits. In a glass case along one wall sat oodles of tasty looking treats, most bone-shaped. On the other walls, coats, caps, capes, and sweaters–all fashioned for dogs. Prince Harry had never seen anything like it. Then behind him, he heard a voice like a song.
“Hello, I’m Kitty, the shopkeeper. Can I interest you in a costume for your friend?” Prince Harry turned to see Kitty frowning at Pete. “Maybe a hat or a cape?”
“What a fabulous idea,” Prince Harry said, throwing his arms wide. “I’ll take everything you have.”
Kitty took a step back. “You want to buy everything? But your friend isn’t even a dog.”
Prince Harry could not take his eyes off Kitty. Her shining brown hair hung in ringlets that framed her heart-shaped face. And she had the loveliest of green eyes. “Yes, we want it all,” he said. “And since I’ve just bought all your stock, why not close for the day and come for a picnic? It is a spectacular day.”
Pete rolled his eyes and hissed under his breath. “Coming on a little strong, don’t you think?”
Prince Harry whispered back, “Less than twenty-four hours, remember?”
Kitty furrowed her brow, but then smiled, and the whole shop seemed to glow. “A picnic sounds lovely.” She put a closed sign in the window and locked the door.
Prince Harry used all his princely charms, money, and Pete to provide Kitty with a day filled with her favorite things. They picnicked on a lunch of luscious tuna salad. They climbed trees at the edge of the forest. They played an odd game with a ball of green yarn. By the end of the afternoon, Prince Harry had fallen hopelessly in love with Kitty.
But the sun would be setting soon. This evening was his last chance to be kissed, before his eighteenth birthday dawned tomorrow. So Prince Harry planned the most romantic evening. Flowers, chocolates, and a beautiful beach sunset. Prince Harry hoped if Kitty saw him change into a dog, she may guess of his curse. Or being a true dog lover, she might even succumb to his puppy love and kiss him. His curse would be broken.
While Prince Harry arranged for the magical evening, Kitty returned home to change. But soon sunset approached. Prince Harry paced the beach. He peered across the dunes, anxiously looking for any sight of Kitty.
The sun dropped quickly. Pete flew into town to search.
Prince Harry waited and waited. But as the sun dipped into the sea, he sensed his human days were over. Oddly, it didn’t matter. Pete was right. Living out the rest of his days as a dog in a dog-lover’s kingdom would be fine. And with any luck, Kitty may adopt him. Prince Harry only wished he could see Kitty one last time, as a human, and tell her of his love.
However, it was not to be. As the last beam of sunlight sank behind the waves, Harry felt the tickle of sand between the pads of his paws.
And then…a ball of green yarn rolled down the beach and into the water.
Harry blinked. Kitty’s yarn? Had she come? He searched but saw no one.
The yarn floated farther out.
Harry jumped in, determined to have something of Kitty’s as a memory of their glorious day. Paddling furiously, Harry swam and swam.
But the yarn stayed just out of reach. The tide pulled both Harry and the yarn farther out to sea.
With a final burst of energy, Harry paddled and sank his teeth into the soggy ball.
Turning to shore, the warm sand appeared miles away. Harry’s legs ached. He could barely breathe with the yarn in his mouth. But he paddled. And paddled. And paddled.
However, the tide proved stronger.
Too tired to continue, Harry looked to the shore one last time.
A sleek black cat sprinted across the sand then dove into the waves.
Harry blinked. A cat in water?
Suddenly, a wave crashed over his head and an exhausted Harry sank. Down, down, down.
Just when Harry thought he would surely drown, he felt something yank his tail. Up, up, up. Out of the water and through the air. Harry sucked in a breath.
His new friend Pelican Pete had saved him.
On shore, Harry spat salt water. He stood, closed his eyes, and shook. When he opened his eyes, a blur of black leapt toward him.
Could it be the cat?
Before Harry could react, he felt a rough tongue brush across his snout.
A wet Prince Harry and a drenched Kitty stood with their lips pressed together.
“Well, imagine that,” Pete said. “One kiss. Two spells broken. Both of you back to being only human.”
Prince Harry and Kitty smiled at their friend Pete, the smartest pelican in two kingdoms.
1. What curse did Prince Harry have?
2. Who lead Harry to the dog-loving kingdom?
3. Why did Harry swim out into the sea?
4. Who saved Harry?
5. How was the curse broken?