A trio of literary (more or less) links:
“Somewhere in the distance, a dog barked.” If that line has an all-too-familiar ring to it, you shouldn’t be surprised. Here’s an article from Slate on the barking-dog trope in modern fiction that will reassure you that you aren’t just hearing things that aren’t there. If it inspires you to double-check your own stories for gratuitously vocal canines, so much the better.
Which brings us to another literary animal, in this case the dead mule, as encountered in Southern literature. The dead mule is one of the genre-defining images, like unicorns and spaceships; much as the presence of a spaceship renders a story science fiction, the presence of a dead mule declares it to be Southern. I don’t know what happens when you have a spaceship and a dead mule in the same story – something by Howard Waldrop, maybe.