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.

“SQUAWK.”

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...

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