Brief Encounter: Keeping Mum

by Treehouse Editors

Karan Parrack

The summer my husband and I moved to the Texas Hill Country and bought
a house on two sloping, rocky acres west of Austin, we had just added to our
family an astonishingly large yellow lab puppy named Mason. Unfortunately, the acreage was not fenced. While Mason bounded and romped across the spacious land, chasing but never quite catching the rabbits and deer that roamed freely, we had to tether him to a stake in the side yard whenever we left the house. It wasn’t a perfect solution, but it worked for the time.

By mid-October, the weather turned to more fall-like temperatures and the Hill Country became absolutely gorgeous. Our house had a fantastic wooden front porch with five steps leading up to it. I pictured how beautiful my country home would look with colorful pots of mums arranged artfully on the steps, much like some picture out of Southern Living. I bought multiple pots and placed them along the front steps. However, the neighbors had warned me about the futility of planting any flowers due to the large deer population. They ate almost anything that bloomed, that year in particular due to a severe drought. It dawned on me that I could use Mason, by now a strapping, lanky ten-month old, to scare away any deer that dared to approach the flowers. I planned to move his tether to the shady area at the base of the porch, and if any deer came near, Mason’s exuberant barking and jumping would scare them away. The next morning, with total confidence, I left Mason by the porch while I went to work.

Late in the afternoon I arrived back home. As I drove up the winding driveway, I peered past the trees to enjoy the beauty of fall flowers lining my front steps. To my dismay, I couldn’t make out any spots of color. Running to the front porch, I discovered that Mason, the guard dog, had proceeded to eat and destroy the flowers himself! Slobbery pots indented with teeth marks lay fallen in the dirt, and the flowers themselves had been shaken and shredded. A few limp bits of greenery remained littered around the steps, and as for Mason, his nose was crusted with dirt. I sank down on a step and shared a good laugh with Mason, clueless and contented, over how my plan had backfired.


Karan Parrack is a native Texan who has taught high school English and English as a Second Language for more than 30 years.