Nan’s terrific GDBW of The Month for this February on pets in the garden has received alot of interesting responses. As a long time dog owner, I want to add my two cents to the mix.
Although I’ve gardened my entire adult life, I didn’t become a dog lover until my daughter was 12, at which time she was so persuasive that I agreed to let her have a dog as long as it was small, didn’t shed and a promise that she would tend to it (wasn’t I an optimistic soul?) So began our love affair with Australian terriers. Milo, our first dog, was perfect for a first time dog: sweet, loving, a great hang out dog with teenagers and trustworthy in the garden MOST OF THE TIME. I never had to worry about him cavorting with or chomping on the plants. But there was one incident that really shook me up. One day, I came to check on him in my daughter’s bedroom where he was resting. I found him lying on his back in a splayed, frozen position. I was sure he was dead and couldn’t bring myself to go over and check his breathing. Terrified, I brought a gardening friend over and he reassured me that Milo was just fine, that perhaps he had eaten something from the garden. We went outside to check and sure enough, in the front yard were quite a few mushrooms. We quickly concluded that this was the cause of his stupor: within a half hour, he came out of his drugged state and was back to his old self.
Milo has long departed from this world. Since that time, 5 years ago, I’ve acquired 3 Australian terriers, Molly, Sassey and Jacob. I thought 2 would be better than one. Even though alot of people warned me against 3, after my mother died, I just felt the need to get another one. What can I say? I love my baby, Jacob, but he’s one wild dude. And with the three of them running around in the garden, I never could trust what they would end up munching. I would find them in my cutting garden and even began to wonder if for some reason, the seed pods happened to fall off of the ricinus, if they might end up munching on them.
At some point, I decided that I needed to create an enclosed area so that I need not worry about them every time I was out in the garden working and letting them romp about. Although I really didn’t want to do it because I felt it would chop up the design, I did add a somewhat circular shaped fence off the side of my living and family rooms. It has been a lifesaver. I have limited my plantings in that area primarily to roses that can climb all over the place. Perilla and Macleya cordata from the other end of the garden have self seeded in this area but I’ve never had a problem with them and the dogs. One other reason that I felt it necessary to add a fence was because deer had become rampant in my garden. I became more then concerned about ticks.
My daughter’s dog, Mila (I wonder who she’s named after?) can be totally trusted in any type of garden. Erika lets her off the leash in her neighborhood, which is surrounded by gardens, parks and play areas. Mila never swerves from her destination. And believe me, in Erika’s neighborhood in Israel, there are plenty of dogs running about, surrounded by plants and flowers galore.
And finally, just because I can’t resist, here is a picture of my son’s dog, Mr. Beefy. He has a face that only a mother can love. Because Mr. Beefy is not much of an outdoor dog, being an English bulldog, when outside, he is usually taking a walk on a leash. He is not what you’d call a playful, exuberant in the garden type of dog.
So, have I made adjustments to my garden because of the dogs? Sure! But has it been worth it? You bet! And let’s face it, for all of us who are parents, it’s a heck of a lot easier than raising kids!