Carrot Ranch October 5 Flash Fiction Challenge: In 99 words (no more, no less) write a story about a Big Brown Dog. This is in honor of Charli’s beloved Grenny, who crossed the Rainbow Bridge this week.
Jane rounds the corner of the shabby house, hoping her break-in has gone unnoticed, and stops cold at a sound, a sound that isn’t traffic or birds or whispering trees. A whimper, a whine. There, on the porch.
“Hey, beautiful dog,” Jane whispers. “Did they leave you, too?”
The dog, a German Shepherd, thumps his tail. He’s panting lightly in the heat, ribs like slats under a dull coat.
“Looks like you need a friend, big guy. I need one too.”
Jane fumbles in her backpack, small movements, and tears open the package of jerky.
“Wanna share my dinner?”
This flash is a vignette from The Life and Times of Jane Doe. Fun flash fiction from other writers can be found at the Carrot Ranch link above.
Jane Doe’s found stray dog Troubles is the reincarnation of the Big Brown Dog from my childhood, pictured above. While Troubles was technically the “family dog, ” I and I alone was His Girl. He followed me around, laid by my chair, slept by my bed, waited by the front door when I was due home from school. Mom’s favorite story is about Troubles playing hide-and-go-seek with me and my little sister, Susan. He would find Sue dutifully, standing and looking at her like “okay, there you are,” because those were the rules of the game. Then he would find me, always saving me for last, and jump all over me and slather me with kisses. (I understand Sue’s feelings were hurt but honestly — she grew into a bombshell of a woman, a gorgeous, savvy blonde with legs up to her neck and a charisma that drew pretty much everybody to fall in love with her. That was a magnetism that dorky me could only dream of, so let me have the joy of being the dog’s favorite, okay?)
One thing I remember clearly is waking late at night to hear Troubles growling and Dad hollering. My mind unfuzzed enough to comprehend that Dad was hopping around with blood flowing down his leg, and that Troubles had done it. The fear and grief that flooded me were horrific — Troubles had bitten Dad. Dad would never keep a dog that bit him. Troubles would have to go. But then I heard Dad praising Troubles. Turns out that Dad had forgotten his key after working a late swing shift and, not wanting to wake the whole house by banging on the front door, had decided to climb in through my window. Troubles may have known Dad, but he also knew nobody was supposed to be climbing through His Girl’s window in the dead of night, and reacted accordingly. “Good boy!” Dad said repeatedly as Mom wrapped his calf up.
Another time he jumped our back fence to get to the female in heat in the neighbors’ yard. Then he tried to get home again but could only make it partway back over the fence. I remember my mom holding the dog’s front legs and Mrs. Hoyer holding his back legs as they tried to get him unstuck and back into our yard. Both them were almost falling down laughing.
Troubles had to be euthanized, although I don’t remember the details. I’m not sure I was ever told. There are some things little girls don’t need to know. I know he was sick for a while, and would go off under the basement stairs. I’d follow him, and wrap him in a blanket and nap with him, using him as my pillow, despite my mother’s admonitions: Troubles wasn’t cold, he had a fur coat and didn’t need a blanket, he didn’t feel good, he didn’t want to be bothered, it was all spidery down there, and so on. I ignored her, and she let me get away with it. Then one day Dad took Troubles to the animal doctor and came home without him. I was inconsolable. I’ve had other dogs I’ve loved, but never another dog like Troubles.