Trash Hungry Part 1: Dog Leader Mystery

By D. Taylor-French

“Nina?” Maeve said. “Where’d you go?”

Maeve stopped walking. She looked over the town square. Her freckled nose wrinkled when she spied Nina crouching behind a corner of city hall.

“Oh.” Maeve hurried back. “Why didn’t you say?”

Nina didn’t answer. Instead, she kept craning her neck towards a dumpster behind the market. She was chewing on a lock of wildly messy hair. From behind, her head looked like a lion’s mane. Maeve peered over her friend’s shoulder. Around the corner stretched a parking lot with trees beyond it.

“What’s so interesting?” said Maeve. “Oh..what a mess. Raccoons threw trash everywhere. But Nina….”

“Shush,” whispered Nina, “don’t scare him—.” In afternoon shadows, clumps of trash rustled in the warm breeze. Greasy bags and empty soda cans skittered over the gravel and dirt. The market’s trash dumpster lids were open. Boxes and bags stuck up over the green bin’s side.

“Who’s him?” Maeve said, adding, “ Won’t a cool ice cream sandwich or a Choco Taco taste good?” That’s why they had walked to town. In the heat of the summer afternoon, Maeve glanced at the Golden Eagle Market across the parking lot.

Nina gasped. A tan dog slunk into view close to the green dumpster.

“Oh.” Maeve’s gaze followed Nina’s stare.

The dog’s ribs stuck out. Snatching up in a greasy donut bag, he ripped it open. His ears flopped as he chomped like he would eat it, bag and all. A car passed on the street by city hall; he backed away toward the trees.

Nina shook her head. “Got to stop him before he eats any plastic.”

Even though Maeve knew better than to talk while Nina sorted out an animal problem, Maeve complained, “I’m thirsty. Can’t we come back?”

Nina took a soundless step into the open. Sinking low, she reached one hand slowly toward the dog. The dog looked up. Nina called softly, “Here, hungry dog. Have some yummy food.” The dog froze, eyes wide. One at a time, Nina tossed dried chicken treats. She aimed each into a trail leading toward her.

The dog flinched. He raised his head, snuffling Nina’s treats. After eating two bites, the dog looked at Nina’s outstretched hand as if it wanted to trust her. Dropping his head, he snatched a greasy donut bag and ripped it open.

The Franklin Dairy water truck pulled up and parked in front of the Golden Eagle Market, causing the dog to drop the bag and run. He melted into the trees.

When Maeve saw the red water truck, she blushed and stood up straight, as if to look taller. Maeve pulled a swath of reddish ponytail from her freckled face. Stifling a giggle, she watched the Franklin twins climb down from the truck cab.

Would you like riding in a truck like this?
The Franklin farm truck looks like this.

Come back next week for more

Trash Hungry: Dog Leader Mystery

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