Dog in a Desert Collection

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.

April 13, 2023

Welcome to Carrot Ranch Literary Community where creative writers from around the world and across genres gather to write 99-word stories. A collection of prompted 99-word stories reads like literary anthropology. Diverse perspectives become part of a collaboration.

We welcome encouraging comments. You can follow writers who link their blogs or social media.

Those published at Carrot Ranch are The Congress of Rough Writers.

Desert Pain by sweeterthannothing

This place smells funny, the air hurts my nose, the ground burns my paws as I shift and slide, trying to make it up hill. There’s no lovely grass here, no trees, no friends to make or critters to chase…

I whine sadly, why am I here? Where is my furless friend? He always took care of me, always… Until he got old then I had to care for him, fetch things for him and keep him warm at night.

Then he was gone.

The young one asked me to go for walkies, then he left me here… Why?

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A Comfort by Kerry E.B. Black

He rested his head against hers, a comfort, he hoped, as they waited, two abandoned pups in the blazing desert sun. She whimpered, frightened. He twined around her, a whole body hug, as he fought his own despair.

A car blasted music, its tires devouring asphalt.

Her ears pricked, momentary hope alight in her betrayed eyes. He leapt to the road’s berm, barking.

The car braked. An aged rocker scooped them up, placed them on a concert t-shirt on the back seat where they curled around each other, the loud music and air conditioning a comfort, he hoped.

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Desert Dog by Norah Colvin

Dingo
wild dog of this vast land
of forest, scrub and plain
no stranger to the desert
with golden fur and quiet white feet
a bushy tail and pointed ears
and long sharp teeth
Australia’s largest mammal carnivore
apex predator
been here 4,000 years or more
nocturnal hunter
with howls that rip the night asunder
call the pack in
or warn intruders away
marking territories with body scents
curious but shy
beautiful but dangerous
lean and mean
unpredictable
opportunistic hunter
hungry scavenger
do not coax it in
be ever wary
treat with caution
lest you become the dingo treat.

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Lone Wolf by JulesPaige

Cool desert
Lone sad dog walks slow
Spring clouds make
Odd shade from
Arizona cacti giants
In the early light

The night was cool and got colder when the old man
and his dog exited their cave dwelling.
Barkingman remained silent.
He had tried to get his companion
to stay with his son.
But the dog would not leave his master.
When at last Barkingman found the rock to which
he could lean his back and look out with calm resolve,
the chill crept into his bones.
When he closed his eyes for the last time, the dog howled.

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A Black Dog Where Nothing Grows by Anne Goodwin

At fifteen, life was a garden on the cusp of spring. Until you touched it with your frosty fingers and killed the nascent buds.

At thirty, life is a barren landscape, a desert. The black dog of depression smothers all new growth. I get up, go to work, go to bed, chained to the canine’s shadow. Rinse and repeat, each day no different to the last.

?The breeze stirs the sand and there, in the dust, a chewed bone. Curious, the dog spins circles around it. Is this a relic of more dead dreams or a nudge to play?

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Why Indeed? by D. Avery

Why indeed would there be a dog in the desert?

The desert can be a fatally dangerous environment; if a dog is in the desert there’s likely a human involved.

Maybe the human is from Customs & Border Patrol, the dog searching for drugs, weapons, or people. But CBP notes that deserts are inhospitable and people dangerous, so they’ve developed robotic dogs, further dehumanizing these operations.

Maybe there’s a real dog in the desert with its human, volunteering to search for the remains of the thousands of migrants who die in the desert.

Because these people had family too.

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Dog in the Desert by Duane L Herrmann

Alone. Where is my pack? Where are my mates? Why am I here? It is so hot! Where is food? Where is water? Where is shelter? I am lonely. No one hears me. Why am I here? What do I do? I try and try, with little success. I write and write, but few read. Do I have to die before anyone pays attention? Will my work survive after I die? I guess that doesn’t matter. I must write. If I don’t write, no one will know what only I know. So, I write and write – and wait.

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Off the Grid by Sue Spitulnik

The policeman watching a monitor said, “Look at this.” The others gathered around.

A drone was crisscrossing a square mile of desert, and a large RV was visible in the southeast quadrant. They zoomed in on it. “Could it be the meth lab we’ve been searching for?”

“Don’t think so. There’s a word on the RV roof. Looks like VETERAN.”

“Who wants t’go for a ride?”

***

The police approached slowly. A dog ferociously announced their arrival. A man appeared with his hands outstretched.

“Just me and my dog, existing. Don’t like people, guns, or drugs. Welcome to look around.”

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Musa by Simon

One day soldiers found a dog in the middle of the dessert. A wise old soldier immediately updated their troops to be on high alert.

As doubted, the dog was not alone, it was only a diversion, the most brutal and cruel gang from the middle of Sahara have come to wipe out their kingdom.

Before sunset, the desert was filled with blood river and heads floated, not one life left, except Musa.

Enemies one small mistake of sparing this 1 year old, turns out a reason behind extinction of world’s most dangerous humans ever existed in the desert.

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Dog Days by C. E. Ayr

The desert stretches for about a thousand miles in every direction.
It seems we’ve been walking forever.
McLeish dropped a few days ago, Strachan only yesterday.
I didn’t even think about burying them, the wind will, very soon.
So there’s just Dog and me left now.
He’s a German Shepherd/Husky cross, been with me seven years, saved my life twice.
He’s my only friend in the world, and we share everything fifty-fifty.
We have two days water left.
I think about that.
It could so easily be four.
Here, boy, I say.
And pull my knife from its sheath.

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Trust in Dogs by D. Avery

I don’t have the energy, or time, to explain how I got lost in the desert.

The dog appeared like a miracle.

A feral dog, but a dog nonetheless. It watched me with calm curiosity, then looked expectantly over its shoulder at me. I followed. The dog walked and waited, as I stumbled after it to this small canyon, where there is water.

But the dog bares its teeth and won’t let me drink. Exhausted, I wait on the sunbaked ground, amongst the scattered bones of other believers. Tumbling from their den, yipping pups squirm, impatient for their meal.

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Dreaming of Dogs by Reena Saxena

I wake up in cold sweat as I dream about the abandoned dog in the desert. It suspiciously looks like the one who left me for her heavenly abode.

Did I fail her in some way?

I bring up kittens and puppies, looking for a reunion with the same soul.

Aria looks like her and is temperamentally similar. I ask for forgiveness as I rock her in my tired arms.

“You’re quite a handful, but I won’t fail you.”

I dream again of the same dog. She is in an oasis saying “Mama, relax. I’m fine – in your arms.”

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Hoofing and Woofing Across the Country by Bill Engleson

“WOOF.”

Well, that didn’t work. Maybe a couple of woofs.

Here goes nothing.

“WOOF! WOOF!”

It’s one mother of a hot day. Two legs is a big disappointment.

“Let’s go dog,” he says, “Sign says desert ahead.”

We’ve been walking for hours. Can’t hitch a ride for love nor money.

Suddenly he sees this sign, says, “I love desert. Mississippi Mud pie. My favourite”

Good for him, I’m thinking. Dogs don’t eat chocolate. You should know that, Buster.

But he don’t know that.

And what he don’t know could fill a dog training manual.

At least I can spell.

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Dog Gone by Margaret G. Hanna

It was the rabbit’s fault. It twitched those long ears, then took off. How could I not give chase?

Zigzag around saguaros, through chollas (Ouch! Yipe!), under rabbit bush, then poof! Gone!

How can something with ears that long disappear?

I stand, panting. Where’d it go?

Wait, where’s Dave, my human?

I weave back and forth, snuffling for my scent. Achoo! Damn that dust.

A horn? I’m saved!

I bound across the desert. Dave can take those annoying cholla burrs off my butt. It’ll serve him right for leaving the truck door open when he got out to whiz.

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I Found My Best Friend On A Roadtrip by Miss Judy

Six years since me and JimBo, aka Jimmy Bogart Humphrey, traveled ‘cross country. Through Ohio, Kansas, down to

Texas. Through the Mojave Desert, Nevada, where roadkill dotted the sand and dogs roamed wild.

“Hey, Mick, there’s a wild one ahead. Slow down, I’ll git a picture.”

“He don’t look wild,” I slowed.

“Got my picture, let’s go.”

I kept seeing that mutt.

“Hey, JimBo, I’m goin’ back.”

“Are you crazy, man? Them desert dogs is mean!”

“Nay, didn’t look mean.”

Still there, the dog eagerly jumped in.

Me and Dog settled in Nevada. Jimbo? He’s back east, got married.

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Coronations Past and Present by Geoff Le Pard

Little Tittweaking celebrates coronations with lunch, to which the whole town contributes. Last time, to celebrate Little Tittweaking’s twinning with Deleterious, MA in the US, the chosen dessert was a traditional American favourite: key lime pie. Sadly, the cook, Rhett Treever misheard this as a canine pie and crafted a special Dog’s dinner. When the mistake was discovered, the mayor grovellingly apologised, despite the fact that everyone who tasted it said it was unique and extraordinary, though no one had seconds. Generally, it was agreed that, for once, some good had come from putting a dog in the dessert.

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In the Dark by writerravenclaw

Training together, I never felt nervous about Merlin.

My guide dog, in tune, not just with my movements, but with me. She never led me into danger. The harness would go tight, when I was near a road. Sitting, when I needed to stop at the road. My life, before the crash, could be replicated.

There were times, at home, where she would bark. Like she had seen someone. It always coincided with Graham’s aroma – mints, with a hint of hair gel.

We were in sync to the same song. Merlin, with him I could be Sarah again

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Dog’s Surprise by Brenda Fluharty

A dog walking on desert sand. He walks with a smile on his face. The dog walks with beauty and grace. He knows this place well. It is where all the old soul dwells. Everything is known here. The desert is beyond time and space.

The desert is a place where the dog can watch over his human. It is impossible to measure his love for her. It will stay with him forever. He can hear her every time she prays. He can help guide her through her human journey. You see, dogs are God’s angels in disguise.

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The Desert Dog by Joanne Fisher

They guarded the water in this patch of desert. One morning a dog ran up. It made for the water, but they threw stones at it.

“Get away you mongrel!” One shouted. The dog slunk away. Shortly afterwards, a woman appeared.

“May I have some water please?” She asked.

“Certainly miss.” She drank a few cupfuls. They watched her walk away. She then transformed into the dog and ran off.

“What do you reckon? Is that a person who turns into a dog, or a dog who turns into a person?” One asked.

“Maybe it’s both.” Suggested the other.

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Heartache by Timothy Peterson

Heartache wasn’t in the pamphlet. How could love be so dark.

Agony resulting thru my unguarded heart ripping apart.

Ignoring every warning, they didnt ring of truth.

Who knew such pain would result from loving an angel like you.

Despite this pain, love still burns strong.

Cupid hovers over shoulder, love notes hidden in every song.

So I push on, void threatening mutual destruction.

I’m still grateful for your love because before you there was nothing.

If we’re truly done, if I’ve held you for the last time.

Know you made me better, you own this heart of mine.

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Last Dog by Charli Mills

Inyo’s tether snapped when the ice cracked like gunshot beneath the sled. She hadn’t been pulling and at the last stop, she had chewed her rawhide straps in boredom. The howls and barks of the team behind her made Inyo leap and dash across failing surface. Booming pops chased her like hunters. Inyo felt a change beneath her thick pads. Snow, and beneath it – land. She spun around to find her team. Panting, she sat back on her haunches. Where once the vast desert of sea ice sprawled, nothing but bobbing slabs. No life stirred. Inyo alone had survived.

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Space Barks by Hugh W. Roberts

Lassie roamed the barren wastelands of a far-off desert planet. She was no ordinary dog. The genetically engineered work to withstand the planet’s harsh conditions and assist in the search for a rare mineral was crucial to the survival of all humanity.

With her advanced sensors and augmented strength, she scoured the dunes, her nose forever twitching as she detected the faintest traces of the mineral.

Triumphantly barking again, she dug up a cache of the precious substance.

Now, the humans could survive, knowing their trusty dog companion had saved the day and helped them beat the virus again.

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Desertin (Part I) by D. Avery

“Yer still whistling a merry tune Kid. Seen the prompt?”
“Yep! Shorty’s lobbed an easy one this week.”
“Really?”
“Yep. Reckon it’ll be a bots, ya know, based on a true story.”
“Really?”
“Yep. Jist gotta figger which time, focus on that. Cuz she’s done it more’n once.”
“She who?”
“Bless ya, Pal. Hope you ain’t catchin a cold. Yep, jist yesterday Curly got inta my carrot cake. An ‘member the ‘Free Pie’ prompt? Whooee, did Curly have hersef a time then!”
“Kid, ya do realize it says ‘dog in a desert’.”
“Not hog in a dessert?”
“Nope.”
“Shift.”

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Desertin (Part II) by D. Avery

“Well, this’s a tough prompt after all. Ain’t got a dog, ain’t familiar with deserts. Ever been ta the desert Pal?”
“Back in ’18, in the 67th yarn. Was on a hoss with no name.”
“I member that one, was kinda weird. D’ya recall seein a dog whilst in the desert? Mebbe one someone set free out there?”
“Nope. An like Shorty says, thet ain’t freedom. Thet’s dumpin.”
“S’pose.”
“Kid, I reckon we’re a might like thet dog an thet Tatum fella. Cain’t see us functionin anywhere’s else but this here ranch. It’s the only thing I ever done.”

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Desertin (Part III) by D. Avery

“Careful Pal, that’s almost admittin ta needin me aroun. Cuz most times I git the feelin ya’d love ta be free a me. Asides, I ain’t anywhere near as far gone as you. I could make it somewheres else. Fact, think I will.”
“Ya desertin me Kid? I’ll be doggoned.”
“Well, that takes care a the prompt, so yeah. Reckon I’ve served my time with you Pal, now I’m gonna make my way in the world.”
“Away from Carrot Ranch?”
“Yep. Reckon they’s plenny a jobs I could do.”
“Alright, Kid, I won’t stan in yer way. Good luck.”

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Desertin (Part IV) by D. Avery

Ya cain’t keep someone down thet wants to set out on their own, so I tried heppin Kid with a resume.

“I’m good at is muckin out the barns.”
“Organizational skills… What else ya done aroun here, Kid?”
“Painted that time.”
“Hmmf. Ended up in a corner a the bunkhouse till the floor dried.”
“I’m also a mason.”
“Yer not a Mason!”
“Member I built that stonewall roun the carrot patch?”
“After ya built it around yersef an was stuck inside.”
“I got management skills. The saloon?”
“Ya let kid goats in an they et up all the paperwork!”

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Desertin (Part V) by D. Avery

“Yer not bein so hepful, Pal.”
“Sorry Kid, it’s jist, this is a lot. Fact is I’m worried bout ya bein out on yer own. It’ll all be so dif’rent. What bout transpertashun? Cain’t go ridin off on one of the hosses. Mebbe ya should take the ranch truck.”
“Um, member? It’s belly up in the creek after I dropped it from Pepe’s balloon. I’ll hitch-hike. I’ll jist pack a few things an git Curly’s leash.”
“I ain’t sure yer gonna blend in.”
“So I’ll stand out.”
“It’s a jungle out there Kid.”
“Let’s say ‘desert’ Pal. Bye.”
“Bye.”

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Desertin (Part VI) by D. AveryTitle by Author

Shorty was some s’prised ta find out Kid, along with the hoglet Curly, had left Carrot Ranch fer greener pastures.

“But Shorty. I had ta let Kid go free. Cuz, ya know, Kid was free ta go.”
“You’re right, Pal. It just seems irresponsible because Kid is so… so…”
“Irresponsible?”
“Yeah. That. Let’s hope Kid finds a good place and a good job. Meanwhile, here at the ranch… are you going to be alright without a sidekick?”
“Sidekicks kin be a pain in the ass. I’ll be fine goin it alone, thanks.”
“Pal, is that a tear?”
“Mebbe.”
“Doggone.”

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Thank you to all our writers who contributed to this week’s collection!

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15 Comments

  1. denmaniacs4

    Some fine pooch prose and poesy this go-around, Charli. I had to stretch being a cat fellow but had a good time…

    • Charli Mills

      You stretched well, Bill, and landed on your feet like a cat!

    • D. Avery @shiftnshake

      I liked the sassy dog in your flash, Bill. And congratulations on your new release!

  2. Jules

    Dog gone good tails this week. Up and down like a roller coaster of emotions…
    And then Kid disapearin’ Gee Whiz. I bet though Curly’ll bring Kid back around.
    Hard to imagine Carrot Ranch with out both Pal and Kid (an Curly).

    • D. Avery @shiftnshake

      Hey Jules, Pal here. Reckon Kid jist had ta see the wider world, try goin it alone, a bit of a walkabout like. Couldn’t stan in the way, ya know? Wouldn’t be s’prised ta see Kid an Curly scurryin back ta the ranch anytime.
      Tell ya thet bunkhouse is some quiet.
      Figgered I’d like thet more’n I am.
      Heck I’m struggling here jist ta come up with 99 words.

      *careful with wishin
      might git what ya thought ya wanted
      find out otherwise*

      Shift!
      Let me know if’n ya see Kid out there, would ya?
      I ain’t likin the quiet.

      • Jules

        I’ll keep a look out for Kid. Meybe Kid’n’Curly might end up doin’ some blog hoppin’? I got a crick nearby… wonder if them two like to play catch an’ toss with the bass?

      • Jules

        Hey, Pal… I got something for you….
        Please visit Special Guests

    • D. Avery @shiftnshake

      Jules, I am at least two steps behind Kid, but maybe will catch up to the yahoo at your place. I appreciate the tip. If anyone can rope a stray Kid, it’s the Poet Lariat.

      • Jules

        I can only hope Kid enjoyed Blossom Hill 🙂

  3. Charli Mills

    Jules, I’m also concerned about Kid leavin’ and hopeful Kid will find anything and everything salvageable.

    • D. Avery @shiftnshake

      Sorry, Charli. I didn’t see this coming either!

    • Jules

      Charli,
      Pal done asked me to keep an eye out for Kid and Curly… They made a guest appearance here; Special Guests

      • D. Avery @shiftnshake

        Yep, but right now Kid’s given me the runaround.

      • Jules

        😉

  4. D. Avery @shiftnshake

    Phew, I finally got around, read those I could reach. The Carrot Ranchers did it again! I always appreciate seeing the stories in the collection, parts of the whole, as well as at the author’s site, the whole of the part. There’s often a bit of background that brings more understanding or interpretation.

Trackbacks/Pingbacks

  1. #99Word Stories; Dark Eyed | ShiftnShake - […] sure to go to Carrot Ranch to read the complete “Dog In the Desert” collection from last […]
  2. #99Word Stories; Old Lady & the Beast, 2 | ShiftnShake - […] sure to go to Carrot Ranch to read the complete “Dog In the Desert” collection from last […]

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