Dogs in The Garden

– Posted in: Garden Design

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.

erika-and-milo-full-frontal-at-party-resizedAlthough 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.

sas-and-molly-on-sofa-resizedMilo 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.

fenced-in-area-roses-growing-on-fence-resizedAt 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.

mila-as-newborn-resizedMy 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.

beefy-resizedAnd 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!

pictures-of-jacob-and-molly-resizedP.S. I would never be able to live with myself if I didn’t post a picture of  Jacob with Molly in the background.

Fran Sorin

Fran is the author of the highly-acclaimed book, Digging Deep: Unearthing Your Creative Roots Through Gardening, which Andrew Weil, M.D., recommends as "a profound and inspiring book."  

A graduate of the University of Chicago with Honors in Psychology, she is also a gardening and creativity expert, coach, inspirational speaker, CBS radio news gardening correspondent, and Huffington Post Contributor.

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Fran Sorin
5 comments… add one

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Diana February 13, 2009, 9:05 am

They are all adorable! I love Mr. Beefy — he looks like he is a handful. You garden modifications still look lovely — and that fence is pretty and functional at the same time. I’ve had to fence off my veggie garden because my dogs were eating my tomatoes (and puking!). I am about to plant around their path in another bed – it’s just easier that way! Great post.

Thanks for your comments. I agree that it’s sometimes easier to design and plant around the animals’ needs rather than having them submit to your dream design and plantings. Never had problems with dogs eating tomatoes but they have tried chomping away at some pumpkins which I happen to grow on that same fence. Fran

Nancy Bond February 13, 2009, 11:50 am

Your little terriers are adorable! And just the right size for a house dog. I’m quite taken with that circular fence, and I love its weathered look. That sweeping curve really gives movement to that area…and the roses are a perfect compliment. 🙂

Hey Nancy-
Thanks for your comments on the fence. I have always been a bit ambivalent about it. But in a funny way it has made that area, especially under the pergola attached to the house, cozier.
I think of you frequently now because my gardening in Israel is limited to containers on a terrace. Will write more about it in a future post! fran

Commonweeder February 13, 2009, 3:17 pm

Cats aren’t reaally a problem in the garden, except forget growing any kind of catmint.

You’re lucky that your problems are limited to cats. I have several neighbors who have outside cats that wander around. I am always concerned that a fox could do one in! fran

Mr. McGregor's Daughter February 14, 2009, 12:37 pm

Two dogs are part of your pack, three dogs make their own pack. The episode with Milo must have been terrifying. I’m so fortunate my dogs weren’t grazers. The fenced in garden is a good solution for maurading terriers. They sure are cute!

How right you are that two are a part of your pack and three are their own pack. But I do so enjoy watching them play and chase after eacy other. Fran

Yvonne February 15, 2009, 12:21 am

Great stuff. What’s a garden without dog? (I’m a reformed cat person.)

Thanks Yvonne. I happen to agree with you on that one. If I had more space, I would absolutely have more dogs. I just love them. Fran

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