Flash Fiction Writing Prompt: Old Dog

IMG_3982 Go Slow 040613 Flash Fiction Writing Prompt copyright KS Brooks
Photo copyright K.S. Brooks. Do not use without attribution.

Use the photograph above as the inspiration for your flash fiction story. Write whatever comes to mind (no sexual, political, or religious stories, jokes, or commentary, please) and after you PROOFREAD it, submit it as your entry in the comments section below.

Welcome to the Indies Unlimited Flash Fiction Challenge. In 250 words or less, write a story incorporating the elements in the picture at left. The 250 word limit will be strictly enforced.

Please keep language and subject matter to a PG-13 level.

Use the comment section below to submit your entry. Entries will be accepted until Tuesday at 5:00 PM Pacific Time. No political or religious entries, please. Need help getting started? Read this article on how to write flash fiction.

On Wednesday, we will open voting to the public with an online poll so they may choose the winner. Voting will be open until 5:00 PM Thursday. On Saturday morning, the winner will be recognized as we post the winning entry along with the picture as a feature.

Once a month, the admins will announce the Editors’ Choice winners. Those stories will be featured in an anthology like this one. Best of luck to you all in your writing!

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12 thoughts on “Flash Fiction Writing Prompt: Old Dog”

  1. Kathleen, that sign you put up two months ago sure seems to have slowed the rush hour traffic through our neighborhood! I don’t know how we can thank you.”

    “I know. It used to rattle my nerves, watching cars swerve around the corner weekday mornings and barrel down the street toward the boulevard on their way toward I-95. We tried for years to get the board of supervisors to restrict traffic through the community or install speed bumps but never got anywhere. I can’t tell you how many times I yelled at drivers while standing with the kids as we waited for their school bus in the morning. I even took to waving a big red flag one semester; no one paid attention.”

    “I know. Sam—he’s my husband—I introduced you to him at a PTA meeting last year—he got so mad in March that he partially blocked the street with his pickup truck one afternoon to slow the rush hour traffic. It caused quite a backup all right, and he was given a ticket. The story got some play on the local news, but still, nothing happened. Your sign is the first and only thing that seems to have worked. By the way, I don’t think I’ve ever seen your dog. Why kind do you have?”

    “Oh, we don’t have a dog. I just figured people care more about hitting a poor old animal than killing a child.”


    Please Go Slow- Old Dog
    Dad never put up a sign, “Please Go Slow -Old Dog.” There was no need to; our garden was completely walled in protecting our senior dog. My sister and I as young adults did not need such a warning to play gently with her.
    I opened the gate but no Biddy to lavishly greet me. Her bed, bowls and bed were gone. I had not been told of her death because I was pregnant and emigrating to Canada. I burst into tears in Dad’s vast untamable garden. Memories of my childhood friend ran helter skater through my mind beginning with an excited visit to a pet store. What better present could a child ask for than a puppy? Puppy love cost 50 pence. Dad chose her name. Biddy meant an old lady; it was inappropriate for a-could-not-keep-still-puppy. Dad named her and probably chose her too. No matter. My younger sister and I walked her, fought over her and loved her with open hearts like only children can. Biddy saw me through the turbulent years of high school, university and marriage. She remained faithful, a little jealous, sometimes cantankerous and grumpy. The tall guarding wall should have protected her against pregnancy. Six were born, but only three were nursing. It was an older England; I did not condone the action, but it was hard to argue with a mercy killing.
    No matter how senior, a dog is still not with us long enough. So go slow and enjoy your old dog.

  3. A Cruel World

    “When the Hickory Hamlet Home for the Memory Deprived was originally built, Gleason,” Dr. Grange, the General Administrator pontificated, “Hickory Lane, the road adjoining it, was not more than a peaceful country lane. The residents enjoyed a tranquil existence, and their safety was never much of an issue.”

    “That’s all well and good, Dr. Grange, but It doesn’t help us now. Now we have a four-lane commuter freeway instead of that country lane and the traffic count is escalating daily. All those city folks living the good rural life up in the hills at Gentry Acres and the like but still barreling into the city daily to pay for that good life. Even Covid-19 hasn’t appreciably diminished the lure of Metropolis.”

    “It is concerning. Do you have any bright thoughts on how we can slow that traffic down?”

    “Local police have set up occasional speed traps but they don’t have the manpower to do it regularly. We could try putting up signs. I’ve seen that done in certain neighbourhoods.”

    “Signs saying what? Dementia Patients, Beware.”

    “We could try that. It’s been my sad experience that speeders don’t give a hoot for children playing in the street or old people walking on the side of the road. Of course, I’m somewhat cynical. However, signage is a good idea. It’s just a matter of the message. How’s this sound. PLEASE GO SLOW-OLD DOG!”

    “Old Dog. Isn’t that like false advertising?”

    “Actually, pretty close to the truth.”

    “Let’s try it.”

  4. “Mom! We ain’t supposed to be here?”
    “What you talking bout Billy? I ain’t gon turn round. I gotta get there by four. I don’t wanna be late. Now sit down and buckle in.” Momma kept her foot on the gas peddle, gunning it so that Billy fell back into his seat.
    He did as his momma said and worried the whole time. Looking out the car window as the car raced past house after house. He wondered what was going to happen. He’d never been down a street where they wasn’t supposed to go before, but he wasn’t about to argue with his momma again, les he get another slap to his backside.
    Block after block whizzed by and Billy kept an eye out for the slow dog, but never saw one.

  5. I’m an old dog; named after my mother. “Trixie”. No name for a male blue-tick coonhound, I agree. With twelve years of good living with this family, I know they still love me. I used to have the run of this farm; baying at intruders, walkin’ the corn with the kids; keepin’ the missus company on the porch, and chasing every racoon in thirty miles of this place up trees, and escarpments, and other places they ought not to be. I was a hunter. The master approved.

    Yeah, I had my own way of thinking. Hard to get me to do anything I didn’t choose to do. They called me stupid, but I was just stubborn. I knew what to do. Problem is, I can no longer do what I know how to do. The vet says it’s cuz of my hips and heart. I say “nonsense!”. I’ve always had hips and heart. But I do feel a darkness coming on. My movements are hesitant. Haven’t chased a coon in ages. I’m off my feed sometimes. There’s constant pain. I know they still love me and they accommodate my weaknesses.

    Look there! They put up that sign on the county road so drivers would look out for me. They never asked me if I’d kindly avoid walking out on the pavement. Like that was something a stupid dog would do. It breaks their heart, because they know I’ll chose when it’s time.

  6. It was immediately obvious what the old lady had done when she was younger, the brightly coloured carnival posters which dominated her walls more than enough to prove what she’d been. Even now, at eighty years of age, she still had a certain spark. And the sumptuousness of her clothes and the jewellery she was wearing suggested she was still wealthy too.

    Her grossly obese dog hadn’t faired so well though. It was curled up into a comma beside the fire, its stubby grey nose tucked up against its belly. I couldn’t imagine it moving quickly, not even if you fired a starting pistol over it.

    “To look at old Joe now,” the widow said, her big hoop earrings swinging, “you wouldn’t believe the problems we used to have with him. He used to chase after everyone who came past on a bicycle, zooming after them all, nipping at their ankles, barking and snarling at anything he could reach. It got so bad that the police got involved, saying that if we didn’t do something about him damned fast, they would.”

    “So, what did you do?” I said, struggling to comprehend that this was the same dog. “You obviously did something about it.”

    The old lady rolled her eyes, making them flash behind her glasses. “What do you think I did?” she said. “There was only one thing we could do. We took the damn-fool bike off of him and made him walk like all the other dogs we’ve had.”

  7. He sat there watching as the sign was erected. It was an all-day process that interrupted his morning nap, spoiled his lunch and now kept him from his afternoon nap. All that banging was making him antsy. With a sigh he laid his head down and shut his eyes. He’d try to fall asleep one more time before he’d just give up on napping today.

    No sooner had his eyes closed then he heard someone call his name. Maybe if he pretended he didn’t hear them they would leave him be. He snuggled down determined to get in at least one nap today, but they called him again. This time closer which only meant they were coming to get him and his dreams of a nap were officially over.

    He stood up slowly, his legs not as strong as the had been and made his way gingerly towards the name caller. “Wanna go see what I’ve been doing all morning?” He wanted to say no, he wanted to turn around and go back to bed, but they were already moving off and opening the door. So with a huff he followed them outside.

    “What do you think? Make it a little safer for you to be out in the yard.”

    Charlie huffed again before going to pee on the sign. He couldn’t lift his leg anymore but his point was made. Then he made his way over to his favorite tree and finally took his nap.

  8. Title: Two Sides to Every Old Story

    Who would have thought the sign would divide the small country neighborhood. Not since the Hatfields and McCoys has something caused such a feud.

    The local home owners’ association has sent three nasty letters to the homeowner about not obeying the rules forbidding signage.

    Three former teachers have written their own letters about the composition on the sign, since it should have been formatted correctly.

    Many neighbors feel the “Please Go” sends the wrong message to people visiting the area.
    Realtors have complained that it is impacting their ability to sell homes.

    Several of the older men in the area believe the “Old Dog” refers to them, and have taken up jogging to show they’re not slow at all.

    Even the dogs now frequent the sign instead of the hydrants in the area.

    Kids are now using the four O’s as bullseyes for their BB guns and pellet rifles.

    The “old dog” the sign was meant for, is now simultaneously courting a Poodle and a Labradoodle.

    Little did the neighbors know what he painted on the other side. If the women had seen and recognized their images, that would have caused a scandal instead of a feud.

    The rest of the story would be how the homeowner captured their exact likeness in a nudist colony.

    He can be seen, sitting with a big smile in his Adirondack chair, while everyone else wastes their time on the side with just words.

  9. Mr. Frank pushed the door open and stepped onto the porch, slowly as usual, but his walk to the steps made more unsteady by the large cardboard box in his arms. He set the box down beside a worn rocking chair before lowering himself carefully into his seat. A blanket lay close by which he tenderly placed in the box on top of an old collar and a tin bowl.

    He looked at his watch, 5:15. The sun was already setting and he held his wrinkled hand over his eyes and peered down the dirt road until it turned to pavement as it entered the new development, but even without his glasses he could see there wasn’t a car on the road, much less a truck.

    As he settled into a gentle rock, his gaze fell on the sign in his drive – ‘Please Go Slow – Old Dog’ and he chuckled. He had planned on donating that, too, until it occurred to him that not only was it a memorial, but that now that Shep was gone, it had taken on a whole new meaning sitting in front of his house.

    “Chip!” Suddenly a small labrador appeared, racing up the drive, with a boy chasing far behind. The dog bounded up the steps and happily thrust his wet nose onto Mr. Frank’s lap. ‘Sorry, Mister!’ the boy called ‘we’re moving in up the street and Chip just bolted.” The old man smiled “that’s alright, I’ve got a box for you.”

  10. “You freaking jackass!” Tonya yelled at the pickup now speeding away. No, she was not going to call the idiot son of a bitch, because that would be an insult to Ranger’s mother, long gone to Rainbow Bridge.

    Tonya scratched Ranger behind the ears and gave him a reassuring pat on the shoulder. The big Husky-German Shepherd cross hadn’t gotten hit, but he was still shaking from his close call.

    She and Bill had been living in a trailer park when they got Ranger. A neighbor’s dog had puppies, and the kids were getting old enough for a dog.

    Two years later they’d moved into a house, although the neighborhood wasn’t much better. Yet somehow they’d never had any trouble with break-ins, unlike a lot of nearby families.

    The kids were grown now, their adult lives scattering them across the country. A sudden stroke had taken Bill last year, and now Ranger was the last connection Tonya had to those days of youth and joy. And she’d be damned if she let some idiot take Ranger away from her before his time.

    “Good boy. Let’s go home.”

    Ranger trotted alongside her, a little surprised when she headed for the garage instead of the front door. No, he wouldn’t understand the words she was painting on the discarded piece of Masonite from Bill’s last remodeling project, but maybe some of the drivers on these roads would.

  11. Lincoln belonged to Eddie’s father, but after he went off to war and never returned old Lincoln became Eddie’s dog, following Eddie everywhere he went.

    Lincoln didn’t seem like much: scrawny, short hair, dirty brown fur, but he never once showed his age. Everywhere Lincoln went he was as happy as could be.

    He was obedient as well. Whenever mother was inside doing daily chores she’d always leave Eddie outside in the yard to play. She’d tell Lincoln, “Watch Eddie, that’s a good boy Lincoln.” For some reason she always knew he understood, and anytime anyone approached the house — or rather anytime someone approached Eddie — Lincoln would start yipping and yapping and wouldn’t stop until mother told him to be quiet.

    Every night Eddie would go to bed with Lincoln lying on the floor next to him. It comforted mother. She always saw it as Lincoln watching over Eddie even in his dreams.

    It broke Eddie’s heart some years later when Lincoln finally passed. Eddie was older, practically a young man — but it didn’t matter — he bawled like a child over the loss of his faithful old friend. Mother comforted him, but in her heart she knew Eddie wasn’t crying over just the death of Lincoln. He was crying over losing the last connection he shared with his father. So in a way, after all these years, Eddie was finally able to mourn the loss of his father.

  12. Bill put the finishing touches on the sign, and hung it on his fence. The sign read: Please Go Slow Old Dog. His dog, Duke, and AKC champion, was diagnosed with a heart condition at 8 years old. But, his brain didn’t know that when he saw a squirrel on the other side of the road.

    Bill made sure he still took Duke for his walks around the neighborhood, but now, they stopped more frequently to chat with the neighbors.

    Over the years they had enjoyed antidotes about the dog show circuit. Then, Bill and Kate started a family, and more often he talked about the children.

    The neighbors always gave Duke a nice pat on the head, and said, poor old Duke!


    Then Bill had knee surgery. After 4 days without walks, Duke decided to take himself. He followed the same route, and came home – no one the wiser.

    When Duke passed Miss Petunia’s, the champion, standard poodle, something was different: she didn’t growl at him. Duke noticed, probably thinking it was Bill she didn’t like.


    Four months later, someone was pounding on Bill’s front door.

    It was Petunia Williams: Miss Petunias owner. “How could you,” she screeched, “Miss Petunia has been excluded from the AKC!”

    Then, she shoved a blanketed bundle into Bill’s arms, “This is your responsibility now, times five, I will be back.”

    The next day, Bill changed the sign on his fence. The new sign read: Please Go Slow – Young Puppies!

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