Winning 'One Heart, Four Paws' Haiku Announced

At its February 2016 "One Heart, Four Paws" event, Central Iowa non-profit Paws & Effect announced the winners of the haiku contest celebrating the connections among animals and humans. The event was held at the Blank Park Zoo, 7401 S.W. 9th Street, Des Moines, Iowa., and featured the book launch for Missouri author Heddie Wittlin-Leger's "Hero to the Rescue.". For more information about the "Hero to the Rescue" book launch, click here.

Established in 2006 and based in Des Moines, Paws & Effect is a 501(c)(3) non-profit organization that raises, trains, and places service dogs with military veterans and children diagnosed with medical needs. The group also registers therapy animals through Pet Partners, and regularly hosts NADAC-sanctioned dog-agility events for fun and fund-raising. Its Beaverdale neighborhood storefront also serves as a training center, as well as home base to Troop 232 of the Dog Scouts of America.

"We were very pleased with how much emotion and even humor people were able to communicate in just a few, carefully selected words," says Paws & Effect Executive Director Nicole Shumate. "The poems selected for recognition convey just how interconnected we all are."

Poems were selected by journalist-turned-poet Randy Brown, author of "Welcome to FOB Haiku: War Poems from Inside the Wire."

Winners of the 2016 haiku contest were:

Neil Ruddy, Carlisle, Iowa First place

1. Dog either sits and won’t move, or pulls like she's in the Iditarod.

2. As we walk through the brown trees, the dog's leash scrapes off and scatters their seeds.

3. Be mindful of pets, for they will forever be mindful of you, too.

4. Your pet's job is to bear witness; to love you just for being alive.

5. If you want to have the best seat in the house, you'll have to move the cat.

Sydney Devine, Des Moines, Iowa Second place

1. Chirping birds outside. Little lion through the glass. Together, watching.

2. Big green eyes looking. Fluffy black fur, gentle paw. Curious, my friend.

3. Footprints in the snow, a companion in the cold. In moonlight, we go.

Angie & Chelsea Sloan, Corydon, Iowa Honorable mention

These dogs fill my heart: Casha, Draco, and Ollie weather storms with me.

Winning poems were assembled into a 9-page booklet designed and produced by Eric Shumate, and were distributed at the event. Awardees will receive copies by postal mail. Remaining copies are available for $5 each. Request via e-mail Paws & Effect Executive Director Nicole Shumate: