Contest #217 shortlist ⭐️

Beowulf: A Guard Dog's Tale

Submitted into Contest #217 in response to: Write a story about a warrior who doesn’t want to kill the dragon.... view prompt

39 comments

Funny Fiction Kids

Dedicated to my furstborn, who thinks he is much braver than he is, but really just has the sweetest and most tender heart, and often gets the short end of the stick now that he has a human sister.


The day I slayed my first dragon started off like any other. The sun greeted me with a gentle touch, and though my nose welcomed its warmth, I felt my body tight and tense: my toes still squeezed together, my hair still up, my jaw still clenched. Last night had been an all-too-real slaughter of tree-dwellers, and I was convinced I’d find myself amidst a blood bath, an explosion of matted grey fur and blue feathers. I peeked one eye open to assess my surroundings, but to my disappointment, there was no explosion, not a single feather or drop of blood. It was merely my room, just how I’d left it.


I noticed Father still in bed beside me, but saw that Mother was not, per the empty, sunken space where the sheets were folded over. I released an audible yawn and then army-crawled over to Mother’s side of the bed, feeling the still warm sheets across my belly. Both Mother and Father always got mad when I did this, but it was a desire I could never deny.


Just as I was drifting off to sleep again, I heard a sudden and loud noise in the other room. Most days, it was the high-pitched giggling of the Youngling that woke me, a sound I’d learned to ignore, much like the sound of her tiny feet peddling across the hardwood floors from room to room. But this clatter alerted me. My ears perked, listening. Then, a shriek of pain.


Immediately, I flew from the bed to the door in one swift swoop. Open you damned door! I commanded.


Through the small gap at the barrier’s bottom, a subtle pungent aroma crept in: it was the scent of Mother rushing out of the house in the morning, arms overstuffed; the scent of the Youngling crying at the sound of the garbage trucks going by; the scent of Father cursing at his computer.


Something was wrong.


I command you to open! I tried again, pulling my lips back this time. It defied me, as it usually did. But I did not surrender. Open! I commanded, louder.


In bed, Father stirred but only let out a snort. I turned to him, beckoning his assistance. Father, help, I groaned. He only snored louder. I had to face the door alone.


I prepared to unleash my final attack – pressing my snout into it with the full force of my strength – when I heard the screaming settle into a hushed whimper. My tail wagged furiously with anticipation as I heard footsteps approaching. Then with a sharp click, the door swung open, revealing Mother and the pouting youngling in her arms. The little one’s cheeks were wet, eyes swollen, and I longed to lick them, to inspect her, to defeat whatever caused her to be upset. But all I could do was wag and sniff at Mother’s knees.


“Come on, Wolfie,” Mother said. Her tone gave me pause. What is wrong, Mother?


“Beowulf, now!” Mother pushed me into the living room, sealing the barrier behind me. When she released the Youngling, I had no time to prepare. Though small, she is strong, and she was on me before I could retreat, squeezing her tiny arms around my neck.


“Woofie!” she screeched in that high-pitched voice. With no barrier to muffle the intensity of it, I winced. Release me, I commanded, which only made her grip tighten. “Awww!” She cooed.


There was no other option: I licked her cheeks forcefully, careful not to use my teeth, and she giggled and pulled away, setting me free. I aimed for her lips next, the way I see Mother and Father do, and lapped up a sweet, sticky goo. Mmmm, pancakes. The little one patted me away, swatting at my nose. “Woofie, stop it,” she squealed. “Mommy, Wolfie is giving me kisses!”


“Stop, Wolf,” Mother said. Again, her tone alerted me. I turned to her. She was on hands and knees, sweeping up crumbs with a napkin, the little’s one pink plate beside her. Mother, let me assist you! I ran to her, tongue ready to mop up the mess. I salivated at the smell, but Mother pushed her forearm into my chest, shoving me away. “Wolfie, no! Not for you!”


I tilted my head at her. It was not lost on me that Mother did not give me her usual greeting. No kiss on my snout. No rubs on my belly. Not even a pat on the head. What is wrong, Mother?


She didn’t even look up at me when she said, “Stop!”


A loud noise from behind grabbed my attention, and I turned to see the little one’s head deep in a box. Her tiny arms were speedily pulling things out, covering the floor with a plethora of things, all of it clinking together loudly as they landed. The Youngling released even more high-pitched yelps as she sifted through her pile, picking up one thing and tossing it aside before grabbing another. I didn’t hesitate. I ran to her side, inspecting for injury. What has hurt you, child?


“Eeeheehee!” She clapped her hands together. I sniffed at them, but did not detect the smell of harm.


“That’s it! Outside! Both of you!”


The Youngling and I froze. We knew that voice. My tail pulled towards my belly.


Mother’s hand was quick to the back door, swinging it open with force and urgency. She pointed outside. “Come on, Gabby. Go play outside while I clean the kitchen. Mommy needs a break.”


The little one’s head and shoulders sunk, but she walked to the door, grabbing the bin I usually inspected for spiders on her way outside. “Okaaaay,” she said. The smell of fear and anger were now wafting off the little one and Mother.


Mother, what is wrong? I attempted once more.


“You too, Beo,” Mother said, re-flinging her finger out the door. The urge to defend her, to comfort her, was strong, almost a vibrative desire throughout my whole body, but it was overpowered by the need to obey her. Ears, tail, and head down, I walked past her and out the door.


The moment my feet touched the concrete patio, all behind me was forgotten. The aroma of the yard rushed over me, and I sprinted to the lawn where the sun warmed my coat instantly. The sudden urge to pee overtook me, but I resisted. Nose to the ground, I surveyed the perimeter of the yard, following the worn path I’d proudly marked regularly for years, my self-imposed defensive barrier to protect my family. Once I’d ensured the safety of the yard, I relieved myself on my favorite tree, the large oak at the far end of the fence line. The branches above me shook.


Instantly, I was on guard, ready to fight. Intruder!


I looked up and saw a blue bird staring down at me.


I narrowed my eyes before digging my nails into the tree's trunk. Intruder! Intruder! Intruder!


The bird never stood a chance. Victoriously, I watched it flutter away. My house! I added for good measure.


So, the day really had been just like any other day. There hadn’t been anything unusual about it, other than Mother’s irritation, which wasn’t entirely uncommon since the Youngling arrived a few years back. All seemed well in our house. It wasn’t until I’d gone back to check on the little one, who had happily busied herself with dragging chalk into the cement, when things became interesting.


I sniffed at her colorful scribbles, looking for any signs of trouble. She screeched, “Wolfie, no! Get off my picture!” and pushed me away. Though I was only trying to help, I did not tell her that. Instead, I obeyed, stepping backwards, because even though she was no Mother or Father, my duty was still to her.


I remained nearby like I always do, continuing my inspections away from her fresh markings. Nose to the ground, tail high. Had I known my birth parents, they would have been proud of my form, I’d imagined. I buried my snout into each nook and crevice, each rock pile and crack in the area, passing over snail trails, fleets of marching ants, and lone roaming roly-polies, all of which I would have liked to spend a little more time inspecting for pure pleasure; but, I am not a puppy anymore. I have responsibilities. Priorities. So, I continued.


This was when things got a little interesting. I was scouring the space between two clay pots of flowers when my whiskers twitched at the sudden discovery of something new…Before I could further examine, I was startled by a guttural scream. Behind me, the Youngling launched herself backwards and tossed her chalk to the ground. “Get it, Woofie, get it!”


Instantly, my body was alert. I rushed to her side, a fury flaring in my tail as I searched for signs of harm. What is it? I demanded.


“There! There! There!” She jabbed her finger down, pointing behind me.


I followed the tiny finger with precision, scanning the area. There was no unusual scent. No visible attacker. Where, child? I pled for her to give me more, but she only pointed, terror emanating at her fingertips.


All hairs up, I sniffed the ground, pacing from left to right. Sniff. Sniff. Sniff. There was nothing but ants and small patches of green emerging from the cracks of the pavement. Not a clue for my nose, nor my eyes. I hurried, covering more and more ground with each paw forward. Nothing revealed itself, but I remained vigilant.


The Youngling wailed again: “Woofie!”


And then just like that, I saw it.


The creature was motionless between the two flower pots, stiller than gravel itself. It was covered in a kaleidoscope of green and black and white scales, a slight shimmer glaring across them. Its eyes were a pair of unblinking black dots, and its legs were camouflaged at its sides, making its body appear limbless and long. Its mouth opened wide, a hiss releasing from its bright pink cavity. I had never encountered such a beast in my life, but the moment I saw it, I knew exactly what it was.


I was face to face with a real-life dragon.


Intruder! Intruder! I growled.


The dragon showed no outward reaction to my warning, so unlike the squirrels and birds I am accustomed to battling. I tried again.


Intruder! Intruder! Intruder!


The wretched beast remained defiantly still. I felt a familiar tightening in my belly: the feeling of Father and Mother and Youngling putting on my collar and locking the door on their way out. I’d realized: I didn’t know how to fight this beast.


Behind me, as if she had sensed my hesitation, the little one sputtered with fear, jumping and down. I trotted to her, pressed my nose into her leg, assuring her: I protect, Youngling.


“Get it, Wolfie!”


I reminded myself: my duty is to protect. Against all things. Even ugly, fierce, and terrifying dragons – even though I did not entirely know they really truly existed. I swallowed my fear – For the Youngling – and approached the beast slowly, one paw, a second paw, lowering my nose in stride. There was no scent but the potted flowers. Such a mysterious creature. It hissed again, and I (embarrassingly) startled backwards.


Back, dragon! Stay back! I don’t want to hurt you!


To my surprise, the dragon slithered an inch forward, its slender body gliding across the rough ground as if it were water. No creature has defied me so audaciously. No creature has defended against me. A feeling bubbled up deep from my chest: the feeling of Father not giving me his leftover pizza crust after I asked for it several times. I could show no mercy.


I roared louder: Stay back! Leave! Leave, you wretched beast!


The dragon merely closed its mouth, but did not retreat. It remained, taunting me with its undying gaze.


I’ve slain many before you, I threatened.


It only blinked.


Perhaps, I was wearing it down. I felt the high of victory creeping up my chest. You cannot win, beast. I snarled, this time showing him my teeth.


Behind me, the back door swung open, but before I could turn to check on the Youngling, a sharp pain exploded across my nose. The dragon’s bite was tight and unrelenting as I shook my head furiously in response, swatting at it with alternating paws. Off, beast, off! I yelped. In the same moment I heard Mother’s voice, I felt a surge of relief flash in my face. The beast landed several feet from me, and I watched my writing assailant slither away, disappearing into the bushes. In front of me, the beast’s tail wiggled and flopped as if it were still attached.


Victory! I announced as I approached what was left of my defeated opponent. The Youngling cried on Mother’s hip.


“Shhh, it’s OK, honey. It looks like it’s gone now,” Mother said. She walked out onto the patio and set the little one down by her chalk. Mother kicked at the lone tail, flinging it towards the bushes, before squatting down in front of me. She cupped my jaw in her hands. “Aw, did you get bit, Wolfie?” Mother scratched behind my ears as she inspected my stinging nose. “It looks OK,” she said, patting my head.


“Hey, what’s going on? Why is Beo barking so much?”


Father! My gallant and noble leader! I sprinted the short distance, nudging my head into his knees, tail wagging with abandon, his favorite way to be greeted.


“I sent Gabby out here to play while I cleaned the kitchen, and I guess she saw a lizard. Beowulf tried to scare it off, but it bit him,” Mother said.


“Yeah, Daddy, I told him to get it, and it bit him right on his nose! He shook his head and flung it off,” the little one contributed proudly. “And its tail came off!”


“Ah, I see,” Father nodded. He bent down to rub my belly, and I wiggled into his hands. His voice an octave higher, he said, “Did you get the lizard, boy? Did you protect our little princess? Good boy! Good boy, Beowulf!” When he released me, I was disappointed. I’d expected a little more of a thank you for my bravery and service. But Father was a busy man so I just continued to nudge my head into his leg. “Exciting morning, huh?” he said to Mother.


“You don’t even know.”


The day continued on like usual from there. Father ate his breakfast at the table, while Mother, who seemed less irritable, and the Youngling, who refused to go back outside, played with the mess the little one had made earlier, though I was not sure why she was so scared to go back outside. Afterall, I’d slayed the dragon. But I wasn’t going to complain. All that excitement had made me tired, and I was about an hour late for my morning nap.


I leapt onto the unmade pile of sheets and blankets and circled the space twice before curling up right in the center where the last remaining sun patch provided my achy nose some warm relief. As I closed my eyes, I found myself hoping for a dream without scaly beasts, perhaps one filled with fluttering feathers and matted grey fur, or maybe, pancakes. 

September 27, 2023 03:54

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39 comments

Mary Bendickson
15:49 Oct 06, 2023

Congrats on the shortlist.🎉. Don't know how I missed it this week. Thought I read all my faves. Fun,fun story.

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AnneMarie Miles
19:23 Oct 06, 2023

Thank you Mary! I appreciate it! And no worries. I, myself, have been sick this week and have missed quite a few stories - including yours! Hope to catch up soon while figuring out something for next week 🤪

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12:15 Nov 30, 2023

As i read the first 2 paragraphs, i got a surge in my mind to write a story of my kitten first attempt at a wall lizard, from his p.o.v., not gonna say he was a kitten. As i read on.. ..and then... Oh. That's to say, I love it. :)

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AnneMarie Miles
17:20 Nov 30, 2023

Thanks for reading Millennium! I'm glad you loved it. And definitely write that kitty POV. I love animal POVs :)

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Amanda Lieser
17:41 Oct 28, 2023

Hi Anne! Oh my goodness, the story was absolutely delightful. I could totally understand how it won a place in the shortlist. I liked that you chose to have it from the dogs perspective because it allowed a certain level of innocence that humans don’t always get to have. That introductory paragraph where you capitalize on the innocence and comfort of a home was absolutely delightful. Your imagery was spot on and a little details. Like how you added the moments of embarrassment in allowed us to truly connect with your narrator. What a wonderf...

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AnneMarie Miles
18:34 Oct 28, 2023

Thanks so much Amanda! This was fun to write and I'm so glad you enjoyed!

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Jack Nierling
14:45 Oct 12, 2023

Such a cute story! I love how you've made everything from the dog's perspective seem so much bigger and more menacing.

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AnneMarie Miles
15:00 Oct 12, 2023

Thanks for reading, Jack! Cute is definitely what I was going for. My doggo is a big scaredy cat despite the pitbull body he finds himself in. This was modeled after him and how he responds to the world around him. 🙂 Thanks again!

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Story Time
17:20 Oct 09, 2023

Anything with a dog and I'm all in. I loved this so much and it really had such a warmth to it that's sometimes hard to convey. Wonderful job.

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AnneMarie Miles
17:42 Oct 09, 2023

Thanks so much Kevin! Means a lot coming from such a talented writer. It was certainly fun to piece together and I did rework it many times to get the voice just right. Glad it paid off

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Ken Cartisano
02:28 Oct 09, 2023

Wonderful. I appreciate the way the dog behaves in ways he 'knows' his master would prefer. You describe loyalty and love without using the words themselves. I felt like the little brother of that dog. Terrific story.

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AnneMarie Miles
02:38 Oct 09, 2023

What a fantastic compliment, thank you! I really wasn't sure how this story would turn out or take once published. It seemed a bit silly to me, but I had fun writing it and I'm so glad you enjoyed it! Thanks for reading and for the feedback. Appreciate it.

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Philip Ebuluofor
19:43 Oct 07, 2023

Congrats Marie. The face has become so familiar with this place that it is expected each week. Congrats once more.

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AnneMarie Miles
15:44 Oct 08, 2023

So kind of you to say that, Philip! Thank you!

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Philip Ebuluofor
17:43 Oct 08, 2023

Welcome.

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Marty B
21:52 Oct 06, 2023

I was worried the story wouldn't live up to that fantastic first line but it did! An Epic Tail, so to speak. My family also puts our dog's day into first person narrative, although much less adventuresome than the Great Beowulf, defender of his house and family from creatures big, and small. Of domestic animals a dogs perspective seems more fun, cats I know, would be bitter and self involved, birds just trying to get out of their confinements. Dogs though, their loyalty is unquestioned, probably dumb, but truly noble- Congrats!

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AnneMarie Miles
02:17 Oct 07, 2023

Thanks for reading and the lovely comment, Marty! I'm glad it lived up to your expectations, this was a fun one to write :)

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Michelle Oliver
13:10 Oct 06, 2023

Cute doggy pov. Your doggy voice was lovely and the way he described his world with the sense of smell was well done. What an exhausting day for a brave and fearless defender of the realm!

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AnneMarie Miles
13:41 Oct 06, 2023

Thank you, Michelle! I don't often like to take on the perspective of animals but I find myself doing it a lot with my dog so I thought I'd give it a go! Thanks for reading!

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12:47 Oct 06, 2023

Nice dog's eye view story. You really capture his voice well. And the dragon reminds of the huge water dragon lizards in australia which really shocked me the first time I crossed paths with one in a park. It turns out they are entirely harmless to people but far larger the tiny lizards I've seen in other places.

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AnneMarie Miles
13:43 Oct 06, 2023

Thanks for reading, Scott! Oh man not sure if I would be excited to run into a water dragon lizard! But I suppose if I had my Beowolf with me, we'd be alright! 🦎🐶

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Jennifer Taylor
00:58 Oct 04, 2023

“Stiller than gavel itself”. I like that. This was a super creative story and it caught me off guard— a small dragon, a dog POV, Mother fearless of dragon. I would have never thought of these things for this prompt! so fun! And this is my first time reading a story from a dog’s POV!!!! It was fun imagining having a tail. I guess I put myself in the protagonist’s shoes when I read. LOL

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AnneMarie Miles
02:06 Oct 04, 2023

Hey, thanks for reading Jennifer! I'm honored to be your first dog POV, though I have to admit there are plenty on here that are just as wonderful, if not more! I don't usually take on the personality of animals, but my dog is a special case for that, ha! Glad you enjoyed it and thanks again!

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Rebecca Miles
20:50 Oct 03, 2023

Ahhh hero Beowulf gets to slay his dragon, even if it is just behind the flower pots and leaves him tending his poor stung nose. You capture wolfie so well here: his fierce loyalty to the Youngling, love of slurpy dog kisses right through to his staking out his place on the sheets- I bet they were freshly laundered if my dog's behavious is anything to go by! What I really like here, and you know what floats my boat!- was the play on the epic; the sense of our brave quester, off on his heroic task. And that end! Your finales are always a bril...

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AnneMarie Miles
02:14 Oct 04, 2023

Ah, I'm so delighted that you liked this one! My husband and I play around with our doggo's personality all the time but I stressed over how to convey it. I rewrote this dang thing three times, trying to get it just the right mixture of epic and naive. The sheets are most certainly always laundered whenever he takes his frog pose, gliding right up to the pillow! Perhaps the MC of your story this week lucked out not having Richard bring home a dog afterall - HA!

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Rebecca Miles
15:22 Oct 06, 2023

It's my turn this week to congratulate you my dear. I must have skimmed that hope stone across the water after all. Happy celebration - well deserved! A tender and funny pooch pov.

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AnneMarie Miles
15:41 Oct 06, 2023

Thank you dear sister! Who would have thought my little doggo personality would shine so bright? 😅🐶 thanks for that hope stone and certainly celebrating after being sick all week! 🤧🎉

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Nina H
14:51 Oct 03, 2023

You paint the personality of Beowulf so well here! Noble, brave, loyal to the (near) bitter end at the hand of a dragon!!! I like your tale of Beowulf so much more than his namesake’s 😂 Great take on the prompt, and great enjoyable story! 🐶

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AnneMarie Miles
15:09 Oct 03, 2023

Thank you Nina! I had a great time characterizing my doggo! Glad his personality came through, I wrote this damn thing three times before I felt like it really captured him. Happy to enjoyed it and thanks for reading!

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00:50 Oct 02, 2023

What an engaging and well-written story! I really enjoyed it. Great tension-building.

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AnneMarie Miles
01:06 Oct 02, 2023

Thanks for reading, Melissa! Glad you enjoyed it :) I had fun being my dog for a day, lol

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Michał Przywara
20:48 Sep 28, 2023

I've always enjoyed the dog's eye view stories (or any pet, really, but I am a bit of a dog person) as they're a great way to look at ourselves from an unexpected perspective. Here, Beowulf (great name, by the way :) is all duty and good intentions - even if his actions unwittingly make a bigger mess. That sounds perfectly suited to dogs, and to small children too :) The confrontation with the dragon was neat. I wondered what it was, and initially thought perhaps a dragonfly (but that didn't line up with the hiss and pink throat) and then ...

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AnneMarie Miles
04:36 Sep 29, 2023

Thanks for the great commentary and feedback, Michal! I chose Beowulf because it is the name of a dragon slayer, but now I can't stop calling my dog that, and I think he is confused 😂 A dragonfly did not even cross my mind, but it should have. Not sure if it would have been as fierce though. And I am potentially too afraid of snakes to even write about them, but maybe one day. A lizard POV would be interesting... perhaps a part 2 in the future, though I think I want to be a human again in my next story 😅 Thanks again! Happy writing this ...

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Michał Przywara
20:49 Oct 06, 2023

Woo! Congrats on the shortlist :D

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AnneMarie Miles
02:16 Oct 07, 2023

Thank you! I was genuinely surprised "At An Impasse" was not up today. I thought for sure it would be. It deserved it. I'm sure we'll see Rumination up in lights next week! ⭐ Happy Friday!

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Danie Holland
15:06 Sep 28, 2023

This was so sweet. What a great doggo!!! Hilariously written and a great story angle for the prompt. I loved the way he describes his feelings — “the feeling of Father not giving me his leftover pizza crust after I asked for it several times. I could show no mercy.”

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AnneMarie Miles
02:00 Sep 29, 2023

Thanks, Danie! I had fun with this one, but now I keep calling my dog Beowulf so I might have to change his name 😂

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Tom Skye
18:52 Sep 27, 2023

Lovely stuff AnneMarie. Great twist on the prompt. I have read first-person dog stuff before but this seemed to find another gear with the idea. Obviously it's all speculation because none of us know how a dog really thinks, but this was a very believable (and charming) account of how a dog might interpret things. Enjoyed this a lot.

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AnneMarie Miles
19:35 Sep 27, 2023

Thanks, Tom! My husband and I are thoroughly devoted for speaking for our dog 😂 I've told him we have no idea we are right but he is convinced he's got my dog's thoughts to a T! Thanks for reading, glad it worked well enough for you to enjoy it. This was a gruelling third draft 😅

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