Arbor Dog

In the nursery of a farm and garden supply store, two guys in their twenties browsed the fruit trees. One of the pair stopped and picked up a healthy little banana tree in a black plastic grower’s pot.

“Another tree?” His friend laughed. “Man, soon you’re gonna have a whole grove.”

The young man 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.” He examined the plant in his 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 and stuff?” Then his friend joked, “You’re gonna have to learn how to use a gun!”

“Or get a dog.”

A stranger perusing nearby chimed in, “Or teach the dog how to use a gun.”

The young men burst into laughter.

After exchanging a few friendly words with the pair, the stranger left toward the register; 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 rectangular bales of compacted 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 terminated deep within a vast and privately owned farmland. 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. Oh the edge of the porch, a bronze-colored dog sat like a human with a rifle resting across his lap and a seasoned hunter’s eye on the alert for trespassers. The stranger parked the 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 boy.”

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