October 5: Flash Fiction Challenge

Written by Charli Mills

Charli Mills, a born buckaroo, makes literary art accessible at CarrotRanch.com. She writes about the veteran spouse experience and women forgotten to history.

October 6, 2016

october-5Gone. Grenny is gone.

He was my Big Brown Dog, a lovable, oversized lunk from the day he was born into Todd’s hands. He was bigger than all his litter mates, including the feisty runt we named Bodetta Bosaphine, Bobo. Todd wanted a male, a legacy dog to continue the line of German Short-haired Pointers. We all fell in love with Bobo, too and kept them both. When we started the litter on solid kibble, Grenny taught us that food allergies among dogs were real. He broke out in bumps from snout to toes. Until we eliminated all grains, I had to bathe him in oatmeal daily. He loved his baths, especially when I sang to him “Rub a dub dub, Grenny in a tub.” He was born the day after Christmas, 2005.

And today, October 5, 2016 heaven gained an exuberant four-paw angel. Big Brown Dog got his wings.

Grenny was a frolicker. He was so toned in muscles in his prime that the kids called him the German Underwear Model. He never walked; he loped. Everywhere and after everything. He and Bobo learned to hunt mice together. She flushed and he nabbed. They graduated to rabbits and my yard was rabbit-free, unlike the rest of the neighborhood. One year, he caught a large grey squirrel while Todd was out of town. Being a squeamish buckaroo, I couldn’t dispose of it and every time he went in the back yard he’d pack it around like one of those un-stuffed dog toys.

In 2007, Grenny suffered a chihuahua attack. It sounds like nothing to be concerned with given his attacker was 14 pounds and he was 80. But two days later the aggressive little dog turned up dead in our cul-de-sac and Grenny was blamed. It led to a scary year of court trials, wading through a fabricated story and arriving at the truth — the chihuahua was hit by a car. Grenny was finally exonerated in court. This is a premise I used in Miracle of Ducks, though I spice it up with fictional characters.

Big Brown Dog thought he could take on nature, though. One wedding anniversary, Todd and I came home, let the dogs in from the back yard and he shook blood all over the floor and walls. It was his. Todd went outside and found a dead muskrat. It put up a fight and ripped Grenny’s ear and bit through his face. The vet was amazed he tangled with a muskrat. Grenny was not through challenging nature. He barked at a moose and got bit. He growled at a bear and got bit and ripped. It taught us, too that if Grenny fights something he decides is bad news, he can escape. Mostly, he liked to chase scents, zigzag across creeks and dig up gopher holes. He was peaceful despite his tangles with nature.

And so loving! Always, my lap dog. Last night he felt so low he couldn’t even lay his head on my lap. After a sleepless night of taking him out every hour, we called the vet. He was normal yesterday morning, then he threw up twice and by morning was peeing blood. We were concerned about something he might have gotten into, but we couldn’t think of what. He was on leash, in the car or in the trailer. And always with us. The vet delivered bad news — he could feel a softball-sized tumor that had escaped detection until now. It obstructed his bowels and was causing bloody urine. He was dying. And we didn’t even know it. It happened so fast. We said our goodbyes in the office and sat, sobbing with our dog that had brought us so many stories and so much love.

I didn’t think I could write this and it certainly wasn’t the post I intended, but I’m glad I did. I just needed to get out Grenny stories. Most who met him, loved him. He recently got to meet family in Mesa and he made a splash when he fell into their swimming pool. The look of surprise on his face was priceless!

We will miss him. I’m still so shocked he’s gone. It’s another notch in feeling homeless, rootless and alienated. I almost feel like giving up the fight except I know there are those who are still walking beside me, still believing in Carrot Ranch, in Miracle of Ducks and Rock Creek, in supporting writers from around the world with flash fiction and compassion, in Todd and I getting stable housing. With the help of a friend, we are possibly going to finance a rig that will make us true RVers and not homeless campers. I’m in the process of filing paperwork to make Carrot Ranch a non-profit and working to get the first of many anthologies published.

I won’t give up now. I’m devastated, but will honor my dog by being the person he believed me to be.

October 5, 2016 prompt: In 99 words (no more, no less) write a story about a Big Brown Dog. I just want to read Big Brown Dog stories this week. I know dogs arn’t everyone’s cup of tea, but you can write about that, too. Keep it happy, write something funny, surprising or tender. Thank you.

Respond by October 11, 2016 to be included in the compilation. Rules are here. All writers are welcome!

***

Big Brown Dog of Rock Creek by Charli Mills

“Da! Come quick. Lizzie says there’s a big brown dog at the creek.” Monroe stood at the barn door, panting.

Cobb glanced at his son, setting aside the chisel he was using. Without grabbing his shirt, he followed Monroe to the edge of Rock Creek. “Is it mean?”

“Well, it sounds big. But I didn’t see it.”

Lizzie sat with her other two brothers gleefully clapping, “Big brown dog!” Her brothers looked as worried as Monroe, who was eldest.

“So, where’s the dog?” Cobb scanned the thicket below. He heard a rustle. And out walked a big brown bear.

###

Note: This is an actual excerpt from Miracle of Ducks. G-Dog is based on Grenny. It’s not part of the flash this week, just something I wanted to share.

Feeding the Brown Dog Trio by Charli Mills

Week two and Danni was ready to kill the dogs.

If she had asked Ike to flag a likely spot for locating an old French Fort, he would have been more successful than she was at feeding what she now called the Hounds from Hell.

Ike coached her over the phone that first night he was away. “Make them sit, fill their bowls and don’t let them eat until you pat each one on the head.” Sit? Was he kidding? Biddy walked around like a dazed and deaf old woman. Two weeks of this and Danni didn’t believe Ike’s dogs would ever listen to her.

“Biddy! Sit! Biddy come here! Sit! Now G-Dog—Biddy get back here!”

Ike advised Danni to call each dog by name: Rosabel, Garon and Dagmar, but Biddy, G-Dog and Sis rolled off her tongue. If they were in her care, she’d call them what fit.

“G-Dog. Sit! Sit! Good boy! Biddy, get away from the chukar! Sit, Sis, sit!”

As soon as Danni reached for the dog food in the plastic box, Sis dashed over and stuffed her entire head under the flat blue lid, scarfing kibble like liquid.

“Sis, no!” Danni grabbed the muscular little dog by the collar. The entire time, G-Dog sat motionless with threads of drool oozing from both sides of his floppy jowls. Sis reared back on her hind legs as Danni tried to get her away from the food. G-Dog looked moist and faint, and Biddy…. Where did Biddy go?

“Biddy get out of there!” Step by plodding step, Biddy walked as if her muscles had frozen. “Come here!” Danni yelled, which made the old dog walk slower. Danni dumped food into G-Dog’s bowl, and warm drool dripped across her hand. Sis plowed into her bowl, failing to sit and had her kibble devoured before Biddy reached hers. As soon as Danni poured kibble for Biddy, Sis stuck her head right into it and ate heartily. Biddy looked up at Danni with round, droopy eyes. Danni kicked a pile of empty beer boxes, sat down at in Ike’s worn barstool and hollered his name loud enough to be heard in Iraq. Feeding the trio was impossible.

###

You made my life richer, Big Brown Dog. Rest in Peace.

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81 Comments

  1. Drew Sheldon

    So sorry for your loss.

    • Charli Mills

      Thank you, Drew.

  2. explorereikiworld

    I loved how you wrote his journey with you guys. Such an active soul, and to go away so suddenly. I can feel your pain, Charli.

    Hugs

    • Charli Mills

      He has been such a big part of our journey, indeed. Thank you, Ruchira.

      • explorereikiworld

        Today a bird came smashing into my glass pane window and collapsed. My whole family was sad to see her pass away. This was a creature who came out of nowhere and shook our lives.

        I can understand your pain. A soul who was with you for years…what memories he created with you.
        xoxo

      • Charli Mills

        We are touched by life and death of all around us. Each day we have is a gift.

  3. Norah

    So sorry for your loss, Charli. Grenny was a big part of your lives. He will be missed. Another hit. Look after yourselves. I’ll be back again to read and comment more fully. Take care. Hugs. xx

    • Charli Mills

      Grenny was certainly that. It was really an unexpected hit. We are taking care of each other tonight and Bobo is getting lots of attention and affection. She’s not quite the lap dog Grenny was, but she’s snuggled up to me right now. Thank you, Norah.

      • Norah

        Bobo will miss him too, I’m sure, and probably doesn’t realise why he is not there, or why she is getting all the attention. It must have been such a shock, coming all at once. I’m pleased to hear you are all taking care of each other.

  4. Irene Waters 19 Writer Memoirist

    Charli what a beautiful tribute to Grenny. He’ll be up in doggy heaven enjoying all the big brown dog stories the rough writers come up with. It doesn’t ease your loss but isn’t it wonderful we don’t have to let our faithful companions suffer as we do our human loved ones. Big hugs and lots of love.

  5. Annecdotist

    So sorry for this, Charli, not at all you need right now, and I imagine such a shock. Glad at least to be part of the structure that keeps you going.
    A dog story? And happy? Both a bit of a challenge for me, but I’ll see I can come up with something.
    And, as others have said, a great obituary to a much-loved dog.

  6. paulamoyer

    I’m speechless, Charli. You certainly gave Grenny a good life. So sorry.

    • Charli Mills

      Thank you, Paula. He gave us a good one, too.

  7. gordon759

    I am very sorry for you, I know what it is like to loose a dog who has been part of your life for so many years.

    And as for a dog themed tale. Off hand I couldn’t think of an historical themed one, but here is a piece of historical fiction. A sort-of- prequel to a very famous dog based tail.

    “It’s beautiful.” She looked down on the ancient house, nestled in a fold of the moorland.
    “It’s your home now.” He swung his bride round and kissed her, she shuddered.
    “What is it?” he asked, concerned.
    “Nothing,” she replied, “I just thought I saw a big brown dog, it startled me.”
    Smiling she took his arm as they returned to the carriage.
    “I think we will be very happy here.”
    Laughing he lifted her in his arms.
    “Despite the hound?” He asked as he carried her over the threshold.
    She kissed him. “Of course.”
    “Then welcome to Baskerville Hall!”

    • Charli Mills

      Oh, Gordon that’s a classic one! In fact, I think that particular hound’s tail was one of my favorite Arthur Conan Doyle reads. Thank you.

  8. Susie

    You continue to amaze me, Charli. To experience this heartbreak so suddenly, and then write this beautiful tribute just hours later reveals that tender, genuine loving heart you have. You are so giving Charli. You share your stories like a gift to all who read. My heart is tugged this morning for your loss. I will always remember your muscular (underwear) dog, Grenny. Thank you for sharing – I still remember many of those stories about him! Love you Charli and Todd!

    • Charli Mills

      Thank you, Susie. I was just thinking about what clowns those two dogs were when you came over and took photos. I picture Grenny frolicking like that across heaven. You’ve been such a good friend through all these losses, always lifting me up. Thank you for stopping by the ranch. I had to write about Grenny. He gave me a lifetime of stories. Remember when they were so naughty and every day it seemed like I came to work with some crazy tale? They got into the packing wrap and Bobo terrorized Grenny by popping the bubbles. They got into a bag of Bob’s Red Mill Pancake Mix and ran around the house with it, dusting flour everywhere, Grenny’s head was white as he tried to pretend he knew nothing about the pancake mix all over! My couches became dog caves. They have kept me surprised, but I had not expected this. He was a good dog.

      • Susie

        Oh yes! The pancake mix mess! That was one of the best stories ever. I remember the pictures of the “innocent” white ghost gog face and your caption “pancakes anyone?”

      • Charli Mills

        It’s locked away on an external hard drive, but I have that one!

  9. A. E. Robson

    Losing a four legged family member is a devastating loss. Charli, my condolences to you and Todd. Your pictures, your memories, your words will keep him close to you. Wherever you may be, he will be with you.

    Brown
    By Ann Edall Robson

    She was the only one in the litter that was brown. It made her theeee one! We called her Brown.

    By the time she was six months old, we were getting questioned about her name. That loveable ball of brown fluff was changing. Her baby hair was taking on a different hue. Flecks of gold shimmering through. 

    Big brown eyes watch our every move. She is still the Brown that we brought home so many years ago. Slower now, but fetch is still her favourite game.

    We still get questioned about her name. She will always be our Brown.

    http://www.annedallrobson.com/99-words/brown

    • Charli Mills

      Thank you, Ann. And what a beautiful, sweet story! Sometimes it’s that simplicity of a name that sticks even when the coat color changes.

  10. denmaniacs4

    Dogs. Planned to get one once I retired but the cats…well, they have more say than you’d expect. You wrote a beautiful tribute, Charli. Beautiful.

    So, without further ado:

    Toledo

    With The Banker downwind, Dobbs sucked in a lungful of hot noon air. The town was tense; word had spread.

    Their element of surprise was quickly sizzling away.

    At one point, Merle Taylor, accompanied by the family mutt, a big brown dog with the unlikely name of Toledo, which was Merle’s home town, brought some soda bread, pemmican and three jugs of freshly drawn water.

    He watched Henry kiss his wife and wave her away.

    Heading back to safety, Merle and Toledo halted before Dobbs. Touching his arm, Merle said, “We need him, Mr. Dobbs.”

    “Yes Ma’am. I know.”

    http://www.engleson.ca

    • Charli Mills

      The cats do have much to say. Our cat had been a kitten when Grenny and Bobo were pups so in a way they were litter mates. A friend took our cat when we left Minnesota and Bootsy was the next cat Grenny had. Thanks, Bill. And a great continuation of the tale with the addition of a new character.

    • Deborah Lee

      I love the name Toledo!

  11. Kerry E.B. Black

    What a beautiful companion. I am sorry. I believe our beloved furry companions greet us when we cross the rainbow bridge. How could they not? They are pure love.

    My offering.

    Constant Companion
    Flash fiction about a service dog written for Carrot Ranch

    Latte rested her head on Sally’s lap, and the girl wrapped her arms around Latte’s neck, sobbing until the dog’s fur turned slick. “I thought Jen was my friend.” Latte licked the tears, blinking acceptance and love as her girl hiccuped. “They laughed at my crutches, called me stupid.” Sally’s grip tightened, and Latte gulped. Sally’s Cerebral Palsy made muscle control difficult. “It isn’t fair.” Latte wiggled which loosened the grip a bit, then placed a paw on the girl’s lap. “I don’t hate them. I hate myself.”

    Latte wished for human language. Sally sniffed, understanding. “I love you, too.”

    • Charli Mills

      They are pure love and I will see him at the Rainbow Bridge. Dogs walk with a short time on our longer journey, but I also believe they are there to walk us over the final leg. What a beautiful, tender story. Love the name for a Big Brown Dog. Thank you, Kerry.

    • Deborah Lee

      Who needs human language when you have a dog?

    • Norah

      Rainbow bridge – love it!

  12. Sarah Brentyn

    Oh no! No. I am so sorry.

    Giant, big brown dog hugs. ????????

    • Charli Mills

      Thank you, Sarah.

  13. Susie

    You continue to amaze me Charli. The ability to write such a beautiful tribute, only hours after such a heartbreaking loss, and then to share it with everyone truly shows us all your tender, beautiful and giving heart. Your writing is like a gift to the reader, even in sadness. It’s a beautiful tribute.
    I cannot believe Grendel is gone, just like that. I remember many of those stories you wrote about, when you told me at work right after they happened. I can never forget the muskrat story, or the chihuahua drama as it unfolded each day. Grendel – the German underwear model, was a true Mills family member, that’s for sure. I am so sad for your loss, and wish you and Todd healing and comfort in these coming days. Hugs and love to you and all of your family, Charli. Rest in peace, Grenny.

    • Charli Mills

      Thank you, again! I’m sorry, my comments sometimes get held up for approval. But I’m so glad to find them both.

      • Susie

        Now I understand! I was blaming my old phone on not being able to post properly because everything disappeared after I hit send. Thank you again for sharing about Grendel. I know he’ll be missed so much.

  14. Lisa Ciarfella

    So sorry to hear! good thoughts your way!

    • Charli Mills

      Thank you, Lisa.

    • Charli Mills

      Thank you, they certainly do leave a hole in our lives and hearts. Your contribution is a beautiful tribute to your Barney. I love Border Collies. Like German Short-haired Pointers they are so intelligent and loving.

      • pensitivity101

        He was indeed a lovely dog, and we still miss him after all this time. Maggie is a sprollie (Dad a liver and white springer, and Mum a black and white welsh collie), and the most loving, affectionate and tactile dog I can remember having. The two of them would have made beautiful pups.

      • Charli Mills

        A sprollie! What a great combination!

    • Charli Mills

      I’m liking the stories and it feels more like focusing on life than the death that is always inevitable.

    • Charli Mills

      Thank you, Deborah. Yes, we do make ourselves vulnerable to the loss that is inevitable. But Shakespeare always had it right, better to love.

  15. noelleg44

    Oh, Charli, I am so sorry. Your words brought tears. You’ve had such a tough year – I hope to meet all of the animals I’ve loved over the years on the other side of that bridge.

    • Charli Mills

      Thank you, Noelle. I share your same hope!

  16. Rowena

    Charli, so sorry to hear you’ve lost your precious Grenny. Such a stunning dog and evidently loved in all those photos. Our first Border Collie went in a similar way. It was so quick and unexpected and I couldn’t believe he only had 24 hours to live when we took him to the vet. If I had, I would’ve had him put down as he suffered quite a lot at the end. It was such a hot day and he wasn’t drinking but he died at home and I was with him. So hard to let him go. Take care my friend.
    xx Rowena

    • Charli Mills

      Thank you, Rowena. I’m sorry you had a similar experience. It’s good to be with them when they go, but so darn hard, too. You take care, too. <3

    • Charli Mills

      Thank you, Diana. Sometimes I think our hearts must look like lava stones, all full of holes. But it says we dared to love.

  17. rogershipp

    RUSKEA

    Ruskea lay sprawled out in front of the sofa. Her two pups wriggled and twisted under her belly.

    With a yelp and one push of a paw, play was over. Ruskea had had enough. It was time to sleep.

    Katja and I had hoped for three pups. Ruskea was so gentle and kind with our own two small ones, everyone who visited wanted a pup.

    This benevolent protector of our twin boys was now the financial advisor of their future college fund.

    Ruskea must have felt our compassion and appreciation. With a wink and a nod, she was asleep.

    Important Note: Ruskea is Finnish for brown.

    https://rogershipp.wordpress.com/2016/10/09/ruskea/

    • Charli Mills

      The benevolent protector — that’s a great role for a dog, as is helping with the future college fund. Thank you for the story, Roger.

      • rogershipp

        Thanks for the kind words, once again!

  18. Sheila M. Good, Author

    I’m so sorry for your loss, Charli. We lost one of our precious Bichon’s two years ago, and I still miss him every day. Dogs are truly a gift from God. My thoughts are with you and your family. @sheilamgood at Cow Pasture Chronicles

    • Charli Mills

      Thank you, Sheila. I feel that way, too and that they serve a purpose to walk with us part of our life’s journey, but only He walks the whole way. Thanks for stopping by the ranch from the cow pastures!

    • Charli Mills

      Thank you, Ruchira!

  19. Norah

    Hi Charli, It’s taken me three times to get back and real all of your post and all of the comments. Each time there has been more to read. I have heard so much about your beautiful Grenny in the time that I’ve known you, I can get just an inkling of the sorrow you must feel.
    Your Rock Creek story reminds me of the day that Grenny was attacked by a bear and saved Todd (I hope that’s right. It’s how I remember it.) It wasn’t a good mistake (in the story) to make. It reminds me of a story of my three-year old self – told my parents about the funny frog on the wall. It was a green tree snake! Fortunately they are not dangerous, but not a good mistake to make anyway.
    I enjoyed the excerpt from Miracle of Ducks. Sounds like it might be a miracle if any of the four survive before Ike skedaddles back after hearing the cry in Iraq! Poor Danni. I wouldn’t want to be in her shoes. I know you would do much better.
    I really enjoyed the slide show of Grenny’s photos. You did very well to share. There have been some beautiful responses to your challenge. I’ll change the tone (down) quite a bit when I post mine tomorrow.
    I hope you are healing. Take care. Hugs. Norah ox

    • Norah

      Hi Charli, I’ve come back more or less empty handed. I’m sorry. I wrote a post, and had a go at writing a flash, but couldn’t bring myself to include the nonsense verse in my post. I don’t feel it at all fitting at this time. I will include a link to the post, as it was written in response to yours, but there’s no flash. Just sending hugs your way. http://wp.me/p3O5Jj-NN

      • Charli Mills

        Thank you for the hugs, Norah.

  20. julespaige

    Dear Charli,

    The loss of any family member is a set back. There are limited words one can utter that make any sense at this time. I have been there… I wish you comfort and peace.

    In Memory

    Brown, white, tan – longhair mix, with one blue eye and one
    brown eye…The shelter dog we had for nine years… She
    helped to balance the household…and she was my protector.
    She demanded the run of the house, she did not like to be
    kept in a cage, or even in a small room.

    When the boys were younger she’d let them dress her up
    like a doll…I’ve got a photo of her in a set of shades looking
    so cool.

    Alas she is gone. We have been pet-less for a long time…
    and may remain so.

    ©JP/dh

    Link to post:
    CR/ In Memory

    • Charli Mills

      Thank you, Jules. I don’t even really know how to adjust at the moment. Bobo is now going downhill and I feel lost on mars. It might be the beginning of our own pet-less years but I shudder to think of that.

      • julespaige

        We have family that often takes in rescued animals….when the time is right…

        Being lost on mars…I can imagine that. I can only hope things improve.

        Hugs. ~Jules

      • Charli Mills

        Thank you. Each day is a new day. This one is better. Hugs back to you!

    • Norah

      I like fudge myself!

    • Charli Mills

      Thank you, Larry. I appreciate the mood lightener!

  21. Sacha Black

    Oh Charli, what heart wrenching pain. I am so sorry for your loss. I loved the stories, what a personality he had, I found myself laughing at the fights he got into, (a right houdini) and welling up at the end, we lost our two cats, one month apart. It’s horrendous, they are family and it is an awful thing to experience. I hope you are healing <3

    • Charli Mills

      Thank you, Sacha. I’m afraid we are track to lose both our dogs. Bobo is not doing well and we took her back to the same vet and the best he can do is prescribe meds if she needs it for comfort. Right now we’re trying to be that comfort.

  22. susanzutautas

    I’m so sorry Charli. I know how painful it is to lose part of your family and how difficult it is. It’s been almost two years and I still miss Bruce as much today as I did when he first left us.

    • Charli Mills

      Thank you Susan. Bruce was such an important part of your lives. Oh, they leave a huge hole!

  23. Sascha Darlington

    Hi, Charli. I’m so very sorry for your loss of Grenny. You wrote a beautiful tribute and it sounds like you have wonderful memories. We never get to keep our pups as long as we’d like, which is probably forever. Hugs.
    This is my first time here and here’s my partly brown dog story: https://saschadarlington.me/2016/10/11/yo-adrian/

    • Charli Mills

      Welcome to the Ranch, Sascha. Yes, I’d love it if they lived forever. Thank you.

    • Charli Mills

      Thank you, Drew. I think I’m having every kind of difficulty at the moment.

  24. Bec Colvin

    So sorry for your loss Charli, Grenny looks like such a wonderful creature. Dogs take up so much space in our hearts it must be such a devastating loss. Hope you and family are going okay. All my best wishes

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