Following the Herd

Last Thursday, I was invited to speak at the OLLI (Osher Lifelong Learning Institute) monthly birthdays and books get together at a local restaurant. This is a national organization with chapters at major universities across the country. A group of 12 to 16 members assembled for the luncheon, and I could tell they were hungry to learn.

Fortunately, they were in the right place at the right time and I was able to enlighten them on the following topics;

  • The Intelligence of Rocks
  • The Backside of Knowledge
  • How to Achieve Mediocrity in a Success Driven World

Everyone left with their appetite for knowledge fully satisfied, and I sold three books. Overall, it was a very successful encounter for all parties.

If you’re new to Friday Flash Fiction, the dean of our growing college of writers is Laverne De Fazio Wisoff-Fields.  If you’re interesting in trying to make the Dean’s List, head over to her blog for step-by-step instructions. To view the FFF  Hollywood Squares Authors Block click here.

copyright - Dawn Landau
copyright – Dawn Landau

I grew up working on a farm. My job was to round up the livestock. You know, cows, sheep, goats, gerbils, whatever.

We’d get up before dawn and get after it. It didn’t matter if it was Christmas or Ivan Pavlov’s birthday, the chores had to be done.

Many times, I’ve come in wet and chilled to the bone, and curl up in a ball by the fire, shaking like I was trying to pass a peach seed*.

Finally, we sold the farm and moved to town. Now, I’ve been reduced to herding humans.

I swear. They’re worse than cats.


*Yes, I know  the correct terminology for the seed of a peach is “pit.” But “pit” doesn’t fit with the expression commonly used in the South when describing someone who is shivering to the point of convulsion.

70 Comments on “Following the Herd

  1. Dear Russell,
    I love that your canine narrator included gerbils in the list of livestock. Fun stuff, and, yes, humans can be rather difficult to herd. If they would only listen to my sage advice and then heed it, we would all be better off . . .

    As to the Knowledge of Rocks, is that at topic that would almost take an entire Friday Fictioneers 100-word story to explain? 😉

    All my best,


    • Actually, the Intelligence of Rocks is a lengthy topic, at least when I tell it. There’s probably a Cliff’s Notes version out there somewhere, but I doubt you could condense it to 100 words.


  2. Great stuff. I would have gone with peach pit – the alliteration would make that metaphor (simile?) just a little more delicious to read.
    Very funny.


  3. True words from an unusually intelligent dog. Funny, I received the most expensive T-shirt last week. It says, “keep calm and make the dean’s list”. I’m going to check into this OLLI club.


  4. The good Lord has been trying to herd humans since the beginning of time, but they just keep running off doing their own thing. Poor doggie, he doesn’t stand a chance. Another great story, Russell 😀


  5. That’s funny – when I speak, people usually find their appetitite for knowledge famished. I’m pretty good on mediocrity but could use some brushing up on rocks and backsides. Peach seed? Still trying to figure that one out. Oh, well, I’m being herded, got to go!


  6. That simile was just a bit too much to think about Russell. I need to go and lie down now. Nice voice in this. For a dog anyway.


  7. Dear Rin Tin Tin,

    I suggest you go back to herding pigs and cows, they’re much easier than humans or cats. I’ve been trying to do both for the past couple of years. Those human bites are the worst. 😉
    Congratulations on achieving mediocrity, Many aspire but few achieve, or underachieve as it were.




    • I imagine Jan is not easily herded, although you did get him to our writers conference once. I appreciate the kind words regarding my mediocrity. Had it not been for laziness and procrastination, I would have never achieved that lofty goal.


  8. Funny stuff, Russell. 😀 Congratulations on selling some of your books! That’s one smart dog. Do you think he’ll write for Friday Fictioneers again in future? 🙂 — Suzanne


  9. Dear Russell,

    Laverne says she thinks you may have shifted tenses inadvertently in paragraph three. I, however, loved your story. And you’re right, they are far worse than cats.




    • Laverne works in a brewery, Doug. So her senses may be shifted a little bit as well. As for the grammar, I was aiming for mediocrity and hit a little low and to the left.


      • Dear Chester,

        You’re right on target. My senses and my tenses have shifted and I think it’s time for another swig. Actually, I blame it all on Shirley and Carmine.




    • Yes, I wish you couldn’t have been there, Patrick. Those poor folks were so drunk on knowledge they had to wait two hours before leaving the restaurant.


    • I think they should make a TV show, The Great Human Drive. A pack of dogs herding humans across the prairie. Naturally, they’d have to stop at the Yellow Dog Saloon on the way.

      Liked by 1 person

  10. Wonderful! I honestly didn’t know you were a dog until the last sentence. Actually I’ve always called it a peach stone but WTF 🙂


  11. This is great. Life from a dog’s POV (his work is never done). My husband and I take lots of classes through our local Academy of Life Long Learning. We learn gobs and don’t have to take tests. Truly the best part. Thanks for yet another smile, Russell


  12. I empathize with that pooch! We never get Ivan Pavlov’s birthday off here at The Grind, either. Time to emit a low growl in solidarity. The Boss probably assumes I’m suffering indigestion.


  13. Ha! I love that last line. What’s he got against cats? I hope this dog can find some kind of stimulating activity, maybe he should try a luncheon. I’m sure you wowed them. Congrats on selling some books. Yay!


  14. Dear Russell, Great story, as usual. Poor doggie, shivering so hard. I feel sorry for him – but he is a good worker – not a lazy dog. I like it! Nan 🙂


  15. Russell, you certainly have a special way with words. Just your expression “trying to pass a peach seed” made me breakout in a hot sweat and cold chills at the same time.


  16. I had to laugh at this because I use that line quite often when referring to gathering of my siblings and their offspring; which is truly like herding cats.
    I must add that I love the line: Ivan Pavlov’s birthday.


  17. Love the referenced to Ivan Pavlov…great tale Russ, painful thinking about the peach seed but your humour is always spot on.


  18. Herding gerbils has to be the worst job on earth! I think he needs to sign up for a farm subsidy and then he can hire someone to herd the humans.



  19. Fun story. I like the dog – he’s got a hard job to do. I like the way he describes his world and I hope he gets to retire soon.


  20. I read your piece to the cat whose reaction can be seen here. (He did flick an ear inadvertently at that tense shift – ah the folly of humans.)
    I on the other hand laughed like a gerbil, an amused merry little gerbil not an evil apocalyptic gerbil about to spread the Black death across Europe.


    • I understand the cat’s response. I’ve yet to see on laugh. They may crack a wry smile occasionally, but laugh–never. Gerbils on the other hand, are known for their good sense of humor, except of course the evil, apocalyptic variety. Thanks for stopping by and leaving such a fun-filled comment.


  21. Of course.. to herd a human would be the utmost challenge.. they have to think everything is right, and never any respect of the chain of command. Poor dog to be degraded to such a humiliating position..


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