Arbor Dog

In the garden center of a home improvement store, two young women browsed an assortment of fruit trees. One stopped to pick up a quaint banana tree in a black grower’s pot.

“Another tree?” Her brunette friend laughed. “Dude, soon you’re gonna have a whole grove.”

The woman with the tree shrugged. “Growing herbs and vegetables turned out to be pretty simple and I really like being able to pick what I need for a meal instead of buying it.” She examined the plant in her hands, adding, “And I wish I could do that with more fruit. I mean, my papaya and avocado trees are doing great… And I’ve been dying for a banana tree so…”

“What’re you gonna do about pests like squirrels?” Her friend joked, “You’re gonna have to learn how to use a gun!” 

“Or I could get a dog.” 

A man passing nearby chimed in, “Or you can teach your dog how to use a gun.”

The women stared at the man, and then burst into laughter. 

The man exchanged a few friendly words with the pair before continuing toward the check out area. He wore denim overalls and carried a 50-pound bag of chicken feed over his shoulder as if it was full of pillow stuffing.

Once making his purchase, the stranger returned to his vehicle and added the bag of feed to the truck bed which was already stacked with four bales of hay, fat rolls of glinting chicken wire fencing, and several bags of large breed dog food.

He drove out of town and onto a winding dirt road that twisted deep within a vast and privately owned farm. A two story house came into view around a bend. It had a wraparound porch with a clear line of sight of a handsome grove of fruit-bearing trees. 

On the edge of the porch, a bronze-colored dog sat like a human with a rifle resting across her lap and a seasoned hunter’s eye on the alert for trespassers. 

The man parked his truck and got out. 

“How’re you and the boys doin’, Lacy?” He walked up to the dog. “Pests givin’ us any trouble?”

Lacy yowled in reply, “Auuwraaarrraaaawr.”

The man stroked the back of the dog’s head. “That’s a good girl.”

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