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Saanich couple decorate tree with dogs after aggressive pruning


A few years after Marie and Derek got married, they bought a house and planted a tree in the front yard.

“Over the years the tree grew and grew and grew,” Derek says, pointing out how it approached the height of the power lines.

While their love blossomed too, the cherry tree never bore fruit, until the couple were advised to prune it way back every few years.

“The last time I did it, it did great,” Marie says. “We got a ton of fruit!”

But this is a story about the time after that.

“I really cut it,” Marie laughs. “And, to say the least, Derek wasn’t overly impressed.”

“It was quite the shock,” Derek says, before walking over to what’s left of the tree — a trunk with a couple leafless branches that aren’t much taller than him.

Derek started to express his disappointment to Marie every time he arrived home.

“He’d shake his head,” Marie says. “And go, ‘You killed it.’”

“We all know what stick people look like,” Derek says, before touching one of the blunt branches reaching for the sky. “That’s exactly what it looks like — a stick person.”

And not a raising-its-stick-arm-in-a-welcoming-wave sort of stick person. So Marie went searching for a solution to silence her husband.

She considered her passion for pups (“They don’t talk back!”) and felt compelled to craft a canine costume for the ‘stick person’ tree to wear.

Marie attached a large dog’s head mask to the tree trunk, along with a bright polka dot tie.

“Sure enough, when I put it up he didn’t say a word about it,” Marie laughs.

Shortly after that, a winter windstorm blew the dog’s face away. While it was lost, Marie and Derek’s daughter donated another mask for the tree, featuring a puppy with its tongue hanging out, wearing glasses.

When the first face was found again, Marie decided to keep both up. Now a pair of pups wearing ties seem to smile from the tree to all who pass.

Rather than criticizing Marie’s cutting, Derek now offers kudos for his wife’s creativity, if not occasionally taking some of the credit.

“People walk by on the street and say, ‘I love your tree,’” Derek says, before laughing. “And I say, ‘Thank you!’”

After being married for 40 years, Marie and Derek agree the secret to overcoming life’s inevitable ups and prune-way-downs is to live in the moment.

“Try to accept things as they are,” Derek says.

“By smiling, laughing, goofing around!” Marie adds.

You just might find that even when the tiny pink buds now sprouting from the tree become big, cherry branches, you’ll both still affectionately call it your “dog wood tree.”

“Actually I think it looks better!” Marie laughs. Top Stories

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