I’m Calling Him Skippy

by T.L. Sherwood

Notice: It is with a mix of regret and pleasure that I cover over the “lost dog” flyer stapled to this post. The reward money will not be given out. The lovely chocolate lab mixed with playfulness was never really lost. “Yippy” has a new home. My home. I am Nancy and “Yippy” is mine now, maybe not legally, but five hundred dollars is not enough for me to return him to the so-called rightful owners.

I know many of you searched for this dog. I heard your calls of “Yippy, come here boy,” while he was in my kitchen. If it’s any consolation, he did raise his head and cock it toward the door when you called out, but then he returned to lapping up the fresh water in the clean bowl I provided.

A few of you in the neighborhood probably heard the complaints I lodged at my neighbor’s about Yippy. If you paid attention, you’ll recall it wasn’t about Yippy, but his treatment. I didn’t scream, “Would you shut that dog up!” like some people might. I shouted, “Please take your dog inside. He’s lonely.”

Yippy was chained outside every day. All day. When the Maul’s went on vacation, they let the Steiner boy pet sit. He showed up dutifully, every other day in the August heat. If I hadn’t squirted the hose over the fence every day, and flung handfuls of cat food over for him, Yippy would have yapped the big one that week. I waited for my chance to spring him.

If you know me, I’m not what you’d call a “dog” person. I prefer cats, but even the stray I call Muffin rubbed against the fence in sympathy while that poor thing constantly cried out for love and petting and treats. I couldn’t bear the thought of Yippy being out in the freezing cold this winter; that’s why I acted when I did.

I’m from Ohio and I grew up thinking that fences made the best neighbors. The chain link fence between my yard and the Maul’s was not tall enough or thick enough for me to be anything but a better neighbor to Yippy once I realized his treatment was so repugnant. Last week, they left the gate unlocked. I went in, unclipped Yippy from the chain and brought him to my place, then took the collar back and put it back on the chain so everyone would think he had escaped.

I’m sorry for the ruse, but I needed a few days to find a rental that would take pets. By the time you read this, Yippy will have a large backyard to play in. When I looked at it, there were rabbits out by the back fence. Already, he has friends to romp around with–Yippy won’t be lonely anymore.

I plan to cover over all the “lost dog” flyers, or at least as many as I can find. If you see the Maul’s, perhaps you could suggest they use the reward money on themselves. Instead of that obedience course they never got around to taking Yippy to, they should take a class on animal husbandry. I bet they’d learn a lot.

T. L. Sherwood is the fiction editor at r.kv.r.y. Quarterly Literary Journal. Among other places, her work has appeared in Rosebud, Necessary Fiction, Thema, The Good Men Project, The Molotov Cocktail, Literary Orphans, Inkspill, and Every Day Fiction. She’s currently working on the second draft of a novel she wrote during National Novel Writing Month. Her blog, Creekside Reflections, can be found at http://tlsherwood.wordpress.com/

Tell us (please!) anything you can about the origins, writing, revision, and/or anything else about this piece.

I am the Susan Lucci of Three Minute Fiction. The staff even sent me a consolation prize tee-shirt because they felt so bad that I have entered every round and never had one of my stories selected. Personally, I was hoping for a tiara, but that’s where this story originated—with the round 11 prompt where a character finds something he or she has no intention of returning.

I wrote this piece very quickly and like most stories, there are bits of truth scattered in the narrative. I grew up by a neighbor who kept three hunting dogs tied up outside all year long. Our dog, Tye, was dognapped out of the yard when she was a puppy. We didn’t offer a ransom. The woman who took her left a note in our neighbor’s mailbox so we were able to get her back.

This is hard to write as Tye’s at the vet right now. The last update involved the horrible word “malignancy” and the phrase, “even with surgery, she might live another year.” I got word of this acceptance within minutes of that phone call. We’ll probably have to put her down soon, which is so hard. She is such a sweet dog. I wish there was someone like Nancy in the story to come save her, but there’s not. I love cats, but dogs just steal your heart.


Check out the write-up of the journal in The Writer.

Matter Press recently released titles from Meg Boscov, Abby Frucht, Robert McBrearty, Tori Bond, Kathy Fish, and Christopher Allen. Click here.

Matter Press is now offering private flash fiction workshops and critiques of flash fiction collections here.


Poetry, creative nonfiction, and fiction/prose poetry submissions are now open. The reading period for standard submissions closes again December 15, 2023. Submit here.


11/27 • Michael Mark
12/04 • Helen Beer
12/11 • Rachel Rodman
12/18 • Betsy Robinson
12/25 • Trish Hopkinson
12/31 • Kim Chinquee
01/01 • Jill Michelle