The Dog that No One Wants (Off Topic)

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Homeless dog at my door.  I think she’s wishing she could come in and join my dogs.

My town has a dog and cat problem.  While there is a humane society, it’s not “no kill,” and the statistics are grim.  Almost every month, 160-250 animals are euthanized at the local shelter.  I can say this with certainty as I see the numbers at every humane society board meeting.  I personally think this is shocking, but perhaps it’s not uncommon for small Texas towns.

People either don’t want to spay or neuter their animals because, “Oh, I think she should have at least one litter first” or because “He’s a boy. He ain’t having puppies. It’s not my problem.” or simply because the cost to spay and neuter is high.

Let me stop here to say that I’ve read people are far more interested in stories about cats than dogs, so if you’re one of those people, simply pretend I’m writing about a cat.  In a way, I’m writing about all of the homeless animals that no one wants.

Anyway, the dog above is homeless and the mother of three puppies–if they’re still alive.  She’s been wandering our neighborhood for a couple of weeks now.  The neighborhood sees her and mostly ignores her.  Isn’t that awful? I include myself in that.

The dog catcher has been called (not by me) and says he can’t catch her. –I’m not sure that’s true since I petted her, but currently the shelter/humane society is at capacity so they don’t have room for her anyway.

Knowing the number of animals put to death at the local shelter, I am loathe to take her there.  It’s almost a certainty she won’t be adopted and that she will end up as one of the 160 to 250 monthly “statistics.”  I can’t face that. There is also a high chance her puppies will end up with Parvo if they go to the shelter.

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Mama dog eating the dog food I put out for her.

On the other hand, what kind of life does this dog or her puppies stand to have living on the street? Not a good one.  I’m torn.

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There is a backstory to this. When I first moved here, I rescued a mama dog and her five puppies and delivered them all to the local shelter.  I thought I was doing such a good thing.  They were all promptly put to sleep. Not one survived. I didn’t know this was going to happen, and I felt horrible for a long time afterward.  Yes, I cried. A lot.

As you can see from the photos, I’ve been feeding her and giving her water.

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She looks at me as I walk by with my dogs and her eyes say, “Hey, I’m here.  I’m a nice dog.  Can I come with you? Could I be part of your family?”  There is hope in her eyes as she follows a short distance behind me.  And then I close my door and my heart on her.

What kind of a person am I?

I cry because I have three dogs, and I can’t take on another one.  I just can’t.  I’m at capacity too.  My neighbor next-door has five dogs.  A friend here has more than 30 cats. (Please don’t judge this friend because her house and yard are extremely clean despite what the image of owning 30 dumped and stray cats might conjure. She spends half of each day cleaning and hundreds of dollars out of her own pocket to spay and neuter them.)

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My three dogs who aren’t supposed to be on the bed. (Sorry for the poor photo quality.)

So why am I telling you this?  My hope is you spay or neuter all of your animals so sad little dogs and cats like this homeless one aren’t the end result.  Also, If you’re going to get a pet, please make your next one, one that comes from an animal shelter.

Finally, to feed her puppies, this homeless dog killed a chicken.  In her circumstances, I can’t say I blame her.

Below is a poem I wrote about what I see as I walk my dogs and how sometimes we refuse to see our social problems.

Where Your Chicken Went

I will never tell you where your chicken went

(Stinking to high heaven on the street between Sycamore and Pine)

Mama dog with three puppies beneath a car

In a town, apathetic.

And the trucks park as yard decoration

In the grass with the flowers in a row by the curb.

I will never tell you where your chicken went.

Meth addicts wave from their perches and porches

Saying “howdy-do!”

Eyes eating, searching, picking

As the church pews are filled with those who self-serve

In the cafeteria of God–Free Meal–Only beef, no chicken please

With a glass of iced tea.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Recycling – When to tell yourself “No”

I’ve been feeling guilty about this blog because, while I love to write, sometimes I don’t have enough time.  The last few days have been like that….crawled under the house because I was worried about termites (didn’t find any, but I found a leak), called a plumber (ugh!), went to Lowe’s for mulch & potting soil, mulched about 16 feet of pathway and placed mulch around various plants, re-potted 12 seedlings, and pulled enough weeds to fill three contractor bags.   It’s Spring. I’m sure you are just as busy.

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Mulched pathway (cardboard underneath) Clay plumber’s pipes to be filled with cascading plants.

Okay, on with this post…

I try to walk my pooches daily or rather, they walk me. It’s good for my health and theirs.

This means I see the neighborhood streets almost each day and often find things people put on the curb such as bags of pine straw and leaves (think mulch), swing set chains (think hanging pots, birdhouses, etc.), my new shelving “tuteur”, plant pots, metal stools, birdbaths, pieces of fencing, garden tools, etc.

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Shelving tuteur on left.  Baby vines have not grown up it yet.

 

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Homeowner passed away.  These were on the curb along with a very old concrete pot two rake heads, and a slightly broken concrete statue.

 

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Blue stool is another curbside find.  While I’ve not used it yet to hold potted plants, I will.  This is an example of what it could look like.

Some of my finds have been absolutely wonderful (like the one below) and still bring me joy to this day.  But finding something that is recyclable and usable doesn’t mean I need to bring every item home. This happened to me a few days ago.

Found fence and poles made into trellis.  Recently painted black and added finials that I already had.

As I walked passed what I believed to be a rental house used as a business (daycare?), it looked like the owners were cleaning it out after their tenants had vacated.  At the curb leaning against the garbage container was a disassembled shelf unit in perfect condition with all of the parts. Assembled, it would look exactly like this.

“Wow,” I thought, “what a find!”  But I didn’t need more shelving inside or outside my house.  What I need is an arbor.  I took a second look at the shelving and realized that, yes, the shelves could be turned into a large sturdy arbor if they were attached lengthwise, one above the other, vertically to 4 x 4 wood posts sunk into the ground.  Since the shelves were 48” long, two of them would actually go up 8 ft on each side to make the walls of an arbor.  But, while this “arbor” would be sturdy and almost free, in my eyes it would also be ugly.

Sometimes “homemade” means quirky or rustic, and that’s cool.  Sometimes, it’s okay for “homemade” to be ugly as in the case of my vegetable trellises.  Most people don’t expect beautiful artwork in a vegetable garden.  The same holds true for homemade compost bins.  Compost is many great things, but it’s not exactly beautiful.

It wasn’t lost on me that while I decided not to take this shelving unit, someone else might want it.  I talked to my neighbor about it, and he was enthusiastic.  He needed more shelving in his garage, and this was perfect.  It was a win-win situation for both of us:  I felt good he got the shelving, and he felt happy to get it.

This topic leads me to another one, which is it’s all too easy when you pick up a recyclable item to let it sit around looking ugly either outside or in your home.  If you want your garden and/or your home to look lovely, you don’t want a bunch of recyclable junk literally littering the landscape.  (Too much ill-literation, I know.  ~ Grin.~ )  Believe me, I’ve been guilty of this exact thing from time to time, but have worked to change my behavior.

I once found a huge metal birdcage (one that would house a parrot).  It sat sheltered in my yard for 4 months.  I decided I owned enough birdcages to put plants in, so I contacted a gardening friend, and she took it immediately.  Why did I wait so long?

I completely understand the fun creative part of recycling an item, but the underside is if the recycling happens later rather than sooner, it may become a liability.  I try to keep this in mind for myself.

There will come a day when I will need to say “no” to almost all garden recyclables because I know it’s possible to have too many non-plant things in a garden.

Happy Easter or (late) Solstice or Spring to all of you!

Diggin’ Weeds in the Hot Sun…

Feeling silly:

Diggin’ weeds in the hot sun
I fought the weeds and the weeds won [Repeat: x2]

I needed flowers ’cause I had none
I fought the weeds but the weeds won [Repeat: x2]

I left my doggy and it feels so bad
Is she’s having fun?
She’s the best dog that I ever had
I fought the weeds and the weeds won
I fought the weeds and the weeds won

Diggin’ weeds will never be done…Yes, I fought the weeds and the weeds won.

Have been working diligently on my new planting area.  I spent 3 hours pulling weeds Saturday afternoon after attending the Stephen F. Austin plant sale. Yesterday, I spent another hour pulling weeds and then 6-1/2 hours spreading organic matter and mulch.  (After my old wheelbarrow lost a wheel and the other barrow has a flat, the mulch was carted in one red wagon-load at a time from my driveway.)

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Above:  Mulched area looking right.

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Above: Mulched area looking left.

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Above:  Looking straight down the middle from the back fence.  The remaining weeds are where the path will go and will be smothered by cardboard with a commercial wood mulch on top.

I’m pleased with the result but, in the process, decided the English language needs one succinct word to say, “Too tired to move.”  After some thought, I’ve come up with  smooped = Slow Moving and Pooped.  As in, “I am smooped.”

I played with the drawing made of the planting area on graph paper and filled it in with plants, then yesterday, I re-drew the area with specific measurements, and put the potential plants in place again.

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First drawing above.

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Second revised drawing above.

I think Piet Oudorf influenced me a bit, which is the reason for the purchase of so many grasses.  I love most of Oudolf’s work.

As I played in the dirt, I kept digging up pieces of bricks, iron, bottles, broken glass, a large piece of tin, part of a leather belt, and so forth.  It wouldn’t surprise me if there weren’t a car down there somewhere.

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Just a few of the items dug up.  There were far more.

In an attempt to plant the last of three yarrows  (Achillea ‘Terracotta’), I encountered a rock that wouldn’t end.  No matter how wide the hole, the rock or concrete (?) went on beyond my shovel.  I finally gave up and moved the hole.

I can’t imagine how that rock got there.  It’s gotta’ be man-made, and why is it set so deeply in the ground?  Of course, my imagination ran wild…

Perhaps Count Jackula is buried in my garden. (Jackula would be Dracula’s third cousin on his American grandmother’s side and great uncle to Donald Trump.)  Jackula’s slayer probably put a stake through his heart back in 1933 and covered him with a huge impenetrable-to-weak-women rock.

Anyway, after installing 17 plants, I gave out.  I still have 7 more to go plus the 9 that will come by mail and others later. (I didn’t buy too many plants for the area after all.  Yaa!)

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The moaning and creaking that went on in the garden to stand upright after all that planting was worse than what one might hear in a brothel.  My left knee aches.  My left shoulder hurts. My neck has a crick, and my right hip is sore.  A few good drugs or maybe a cold wine cooler would be good.

Back to the Count:  If I could dig him up, I wonder if Jackula would be interested in a job since he’s been out of commission for so long? (I don’t discriminate because of age or choice of beverage.) I could use some help, and Jackula probably wouldn’t realize wages have increased since he’s been underground.  For my part, I could certainly point him in the right direction for the blood of a few folks I’m not fond of. (Let me know if you have any you’d like for him to bite.)

Some late breaking news:  Elly-Belly-Munchy-Mouth, the !@*$! dog, tore up the container that held my foxglove seedlings so I’ll need to start over with them.

I’ll end this post with a photo of my New Dawn rose that bloomed (first time ever) in the rain on Sunday.–That is to say, she’s a little worse for the wear.

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There’s a New Bug in Town

Typing this is my “tax break.”–No, not the kind the IRS gives you, but the physical break you take after working on your taxes for three hours.  My brain is fried as this post will show.

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2016 tax receipts. Tape, stapler, and three hole punch at hand.

Guess I won’t feel too sorry for myself because I remember visiting my neighbors in their Bed and Breakfast last year when they were working on their taxes. Their mounds of receipts took up two rooms and covered everything!  Oh, I felt sorry for them.

Now to the point of this post:

Most of us are familiar with mealy bugs, aphids, grasshoppers and those terrible suckers, the sharpshooters who possess mouths that pierce and suck.

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Above: A broad-headed sharpshooter photo courtesy of Creative Commons

A new pest recently targeted my Joe Pye Weed seeds. Grr!  Who knew anything would eat un-germinated Joe Pye Weed seeds?

I’ve tried to look this pest up in the EPA’s on-line Bug Book but didn’t see a photo of it.

While similar to the snout-nosed agave weevil in color, my pest is a bit more like a mealy bug in structure.

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The evil snout-nosed agave weevil.  U-G-L-Y, huh?  I never want to be reincarnated into one of these! (Photo credit:  Creative Commons)

A description of mealy bugs from www.learn2grow.com states, “The females are covered with a white, cottony or mealy wax secretion and look like tiny cotton balls on plants, taking away a plant’s aesthetic value. They’ve got an oval body outline, and functional legs allow them to be mobile in their immature stage. Some mealybugs are more ornate than others, having filaments around the edge of their bodies or even tails.”

Well, my pest has functional legs.  Pretty sure it’s female, and it has a whip-like tail. Unlike the mealy bug, it eats dirt. The tail whips wildly as the bug hops up and down in anticipation of food. (Kinda’ scary!)  It is also partial to carrot roots so I’ll have to watch them if I plant any this year.

After much research, I’ve learned this munching culprit is a Joe Pye Weed-specific Canis herbis malum devoura with a more common name of the Black-Snouted Pye Weed Weasel.

And I actually found a mug shot of this pest in a line-up of America’s Most Unwanted pests.  This one comes in at number 11.  There are many varieties of this pest, so no, they don’t all look alike.  Some may attack plant roots and leaves depending upon whether they’re in the immature or mature stage.  (Watch out, you may have one of these in YOUR garden.)

Without further ado, here’s a photo of a Joe Pye Weed Canis herbis malum devoura.

Front and profile photo of a Canis herbis malum devoura.  Very destructive!

In the event you find one like it eating your seeds and plants, cayenne pepper seems to be an adequate deterrent.

Unfortunately, I found the same Black-Snouted Pye Weed Weasel lying on top of my tax receipts.  I hope it doesn’t eat them because the IRS won’t understand.  And now to go plant more Joe Pye Weed seeds….

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A Pre-Thanksgiving Toilet Post

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Originally, I was going to post about rain, and I actually have that post written.  It can wait as a back-up post along with my other back-up post about dirt, which for some reason isn’t inspiring me, plus I need to get out and photograph different KINDS of dirt, and I’m not walking too well these days

This is a garden blog, but I see other gardeners post about their vacations, their home remodels, Christmas lights, and occasionally their pets.  Since there is precedence for off-topic posts, I am taking the plunge with this one.

I have a lot to be thankful for:

  • A paid-for roof over my head.
  • The ability to pay my bills, at least so far.
  • Three LOVING dogs below.

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Bed-hogging dogs who aren’t supposed to be on the bed.
  • Three good friends and a fourth in the works.
  • A someday beautiful garden currently in its infancy.

These are my Thanksgiving blessings and I am grateful; however, this morning I woke up in the toilet of life.  It happens.  And not just to me.  Maybe you’ve had this kind of experience too?

To accommodate my hip replacement, I’m having a bathroom (out-of-toilet) remodeling experience.  I am adding a shower to the bathroom, which is pretty much a necessity when you have a hip replacement.  The remodeling needs to be finished ASAP. (Read:  STRESS)

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Currently my toilet sits on the deck as you’ve seen in the top photo.  I’ve been contemplating making it into a deck fountain and perhaps adding some flowers to the tank. Wouldn’t that be pretty? Ha-ha!–You see this post really is about gardening.

As remodels/renovations go, if you’ve ever had one, you know ahead of time that you may run into something unexpected.  We did.

The unexpected was not termites, which I was thoughtful enough to worry about ahead of time.  Also, there was no rot—at least not yet–which is always a possibility in an old house (1933) bathroom.  No, that stuff would be too simple and easy to deal with.  Instead, I need to have the bathroom re-wired or perhaps the entire house.  Dang.  Darn.  You know I want to swear, but I won’t.

Okay, last night I came to accept this bad turn of events, but then the Law of Threes (three bad things happening together) took hold, only it was more than three.

For one thing, I burned my cereal this morning.  Yes, that’s not THAT  bad, I know, but still!

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While my oatmeal burned, I was trying to access a website to see if I need to make changes to my health insurance, but I found I couldn’t get in.  I requested and received a temporary change of password.  That didn’t work either.  I called the maker of the temporary change of password to tell her it didn’t work.  She responded by saying she is a contracted employee and didn’t have a clue as to why it didn’t work, but suggested I try a different web browser.  I did.  I tried two, they made no difference.

I called the HELP number and was told I needed to re-register on another site to make it work so I did this.  I went back to the original site, and the temporary password still didn’t work.  The error message says my claim number should be nine digits.  It IS nine digits.  I swear I can count. I took calculus in college.  Aargh!!!! I’m in password/claim number hell.

So I’ll leave it alone for now.

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Log In ! The combination of numbers you have entered does not match. Please enter your claim number and password again. If you need a new password, select the Forgot Claim Number or Password? link below.

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You entered less than nine characters for your claim number.  When logging in you must enter nine characters as your claim number.  (Duh!)

Next, there was the email I received at 8 a.m. BEFORE my cereal burned  The new owner of the poor starved lab mix puppy rescued and fostered some 4 months ago, doesn’t want him. (Note:  He was found with his mouth wired shut.)

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The trainer for the pup above hired by his owner says he’s not a good fit because he’s too energetic.  (He’s a PUPPY!  Yes, he’s energetic.)  The owner is older and has young grandchildren that he jumps on.  However, his owner raised labs before.

You would think the trainer could remedy the jumping behavior instead of saying, “Get rid of the dog,” but she doesn’t.  This is SO SAD.

I have a young lab.  I’m no spring chicken and right now, I can’t even walk her, but I LOVE her and wouldn’t think to get rid of her even though she still chews some, jumps when she’s excited, and runs like a nut around the yard.

I live in a relatively poor community and finding a good home for any animal is extremely difficult.

In addition, I don’t trust the trainer’s opinion because she’s been wrong in other instances about other dogs. (I’m not the only one who thinks this.) However, I am not permitted to say this.

And finally, there are the three sweet puppies I fostered. They were dumped on the side of the road in a box at the age of 3 weeks.  If they’d not been fostered, they’d be dead.  Their initial care required getting up in the night every four hours to bottle feed them.

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Two of these babies have found a home and one remains in the shelter.  Unfortunately, the woman who adopted one puppy is unhappy with her (photo of her below), and the woman reminds me of this every time I see her, and I see her A LOT. “She’s too big,” she tells me.  “I can’t bond with her.”

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Photo of puppy who is now “Too big”.

The puppy’s owner wanted a small dog and by all rights, this puppy WILL BE a SMALL dog, which means at maturity she will weigh less than 25 lbs. She’s a Jack Russell terrier mix.  However, this woman wanted a REALLY small dog such as a teacup poodle or Chihuahua.  I’m sorry your puppy isn’t that. I’m sorry I couldn’t guarantee that.  Can’t you love her anyway?  You aren’t so perfect either.

In addition, despite being a mixed breed with an already short tail, the owner had this puppy’s tail docked, and this doesn’t sit well with me.

At 4 month of age, this puppy is loving to all.  Her only fault is she is “TOO big.”  I know the woman’s husband loves her, but I’m almost at a point where I might ask to take her back.  Love her & accept her OR close your mouth and give her back.

And tomorrow is the BIG Turkey day.  I want it to be a good one.  I need to stop whining and think of my blessings.  Life’s not all bad.  Tomorrow, I will hug my kids and schmooze with extended family.

I know these issues will get settled and next year, at this time, I won’t be thinking about them, but at the moment….Grrrr…I mean gobble-gobble-gobble!  Happy Thanksgiving!

Teaching your dog to Help You in the Garden

Elly, my young lab, is one smart (big black) cookie.  She tries to please me at every opportunity even though, at times, she’s damaged parts of the yard.  No relationship is perfect.

Cutting to the chase, if you’re patient many dogs, even older dogs, can be taught to help you in the garden if you take the time to teach them.

I’ve taught Elly to find my house keys and my trowel.  I believe with consistent practice most dogs can be taught to do this as well.

How you ask?

Well, this is how I did it:  I bought Elly some YUMMY treats, which in my case were chopped up Gerber’s Toddler Graduate Chicken Sticks. They look like tiny hotdogs.   (I’m a bit picky about the treats I give my dogs.  However, you know what your dog likes so buy whatever he/she thinks tastes great.)

If you can, get your dog to sit.  Next, hold the trowel in your hand in front of your dog’s nose and say “trowel.”  Give him/her the treat immediately after you say “trowel.”  Repeat this several times in a row and practice 2 or 3 times a day.  You may want to touch the trowel to his nose when you say the word “trowel.” Always praise him when you work with him because you want your dog to think this is fun, and the goal is to get your dog to associate the treat with the trowel.

After working with your dog for a week or two, put the trowel on the floor/ground in front of your dog and say, “Where’s the trowel?”  You may need to repeat this 2 or 3 times.  If your dog understands you and wants the treat, he will put his nose on the trowel so that he can get the treat.  If he doesn’t respond appropriately, go back to holding the trowel in front of him, possibly touching the trowel to his nose while saying “trowel” or “Where’s the trowel?”  (The key for you is to be patient.) Always follow this by giving him a treat and lots of praise.

Once your dog understands he will get a treat for putting his nose to the trowel then you may move to the next step: While your dog is sitting, move the trowel a few feet away before asking him to find it.  He should be able to see the trowel, but it shouldn’t be right in front of him. As before, always give your dog the treat and praise him after he’s responded appropriately.

When your dog has mastered this, make your dog leave the room or yard and try placing the trowel in a less obvious place without him seeing where you put it.  Don’t hide it, but don’t make it completely obvious either.  (I put the trowel on top of a kitchen stool, and the next time, I placed it on the floor beside the garbage can.)  Let your dog back into the area where the trowel is and say, “Where’s the trowel?”

When your dog has mastered finding the trowel in a small area/range, move on to hide the trowel in your yard first in an obvious place and then in less obvious places.  Always use the same phrase with your dog, “Where’s the trowel?”

Once your dog has accomplished finding your trowel, using the same method you can work on your dog finding your garden fork or whatever other garden tools you work with that you might occasionally misplace.

Elly is pleased with herself when we play this game, so much so that she will eat the treat then run back and put her nose on the trowel again for a second treat.

I’ve mentioned before that I’m not much of a photographer, but below are photos of Elly with the trowel.  She doesn’t stay still for photos!  Her nose is on the trowel in the second photo.

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While I’ve yet to lose my trowel or my keys, when I do, I’ll call Elly to help find them.

All three of my dogs can do “tricks” but Elly is the only one I’ve worked with to find my keys and my trowel.

 

It’s always a 3-dog night at my house.

Dogs.  I like dogs.  I own three.  That’s a lie.  They own me.

What do dogs have to do with gardening?  Well, quite a lot actually at my house.  I only ever wanted two dogs, but I “guilted” myself into three, which was one of the best decisions I ever made.

You see, last summer, I was being a good dog owner by walking my two dogs every evening.  This is when I ran into a mama dog and her five puppies living under a vacant building close to downtown.  All of them were feral.  The pups were about 5 weeks old and being that it was over 100 degrees outside during the day, I began bringing them water and feeding them.  Unfortunately, I couldn’t catch them and well….I called animal control who did catch them…and took them to the humane society, where you probably think everything ended happily ever after.  If you want to believe that, stop here.

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The mama dog was euthanized.  (I didn’t know they would do this. I’d offered to adopt her.) Next, the puppies contracted Parvo, and they were all euthanized two weeks later.  I felt terrible. I felt responsible.  I felt like a killer.  I felt betrayed.  I’d given them a $100 donation, and they’d put MY puppies to sleep.  At the time, I didn’t know why.

I also talked long and hard with the mayor, a humane society board member, and one of the shelter workers regarding this incident.  Finally, I decided I would begin volunteering at the humane society despite everything.  Maybe I could personally make a difference at this high kill shelter? Maybe I could bring a few animals some joy, and relief to the over-worked staff.

Of course, they put me to work in “cat adoption” cleaning litter boxes and cages.  Ha!  Another story for another time.

After cleaning at the shelter, I would walk dogs.  Many of these dogs didn’t get out of their pen, and they had LOTS of energy.  Some even knocked me down.  And this is where I met Elly, a black lab puppy mix.

Elly came to the shelter at 3 months of age.  Those who surrendered her said she was found wandering the streets, abandoned, but there’s a lot of doubt about that story.  Anyway, when I took Elly out to walk, she walked like a pro and was extremely attentive to every move I made.  Sadly, when it was time to put her back into her pen, her paws wrapped around my neck, and it was obvious she didn’t want to let go.  My heart was torn. This happened more than once.  It didn’t help either that she had “Bette Davis” eyes or that I was well aware of black dog syndrome.

I mentioned to the staff that I might consider adopting her.  The staff immediately placed her on ‘hold’.  Notice, I only said I MIGHT consider taking her, but the staff knew a sucker when they saw one.

Well, anyway, that’s how Elly Belly Munchy Mouth came to live at my house last September.  No, I still don’t NEED three dogs.  Who does?

Now, I read about other dogs in garden blogs.  These dogs are referred to as “my gardening buddy.” For example someone might write, “My dog, Eliza Honeycutt Fart Bubble, helps me in the garden.”   Well, that’s NOT Elly.  Elly NEVER helps me in the garden.  She lays in the holes I’m trying to dig.  She sticks her face in my face whenever I’m on the ground. She digs holes of her own where I don’t want them, and worst of all, she puts her mouth on everything I touch.

Elly Belly Munchy Mouth does like plants but not in a nice way.  You see, Elly has a stick agenda, a wood fetish, a crunching vocation that she takes seriously, AND all sticks ALWAYS taste better if I’ve touched them.  To Elly, newly planted trees (sticks) are caramel candy with a chewy green after-taste that should be, but aren’t, followed by a dog treat appetizer

So this morning when I picked up a decent size stick, about 24” long with a few side branches, I couldn’t hide it from Elly.

My goal was to place this stick on top of my hugelkultur berm where it could rot with good cause.

Elly’s goal, on the other hand, was to get THAT stick and chew it into 10,000 pieces.  Now, there are sticks all over the yard, and the dog has endless choices from which to pick.  Instead, she fixates on MY stick.

I hide it behind my back.  “Go away, Elly,” I say in an annoyed tone.

She goes behind my back.

I turn around so the stick is away from her.  She turns around and follows the stick–Hey, she’s not stupid.

I plead with her, “Come on, Elly! Go away!” She’s stubborn.–All labs are, and all reportedly like to chew until they are 2 years old. Finally, I give in and give it to her, and the joy she expresses from the receipt of this gift is indescribable.  She frolics around the yard, stick in mouth.  Crunch, crunch, crunch.

If I were to have placed it on the berm, Elly would have helped herself to it when I wasn’t looking.  It’s happened before.

When she finished chewing the stick and has moved on to chasing butterflies and squirrels, I pick up the stick pieces, as best I can, and place them on the berm.

Did I mention cayenne pepper is my friend?

Come to my house and you might think my plants have an orange fungus.  Fortunately, once a plant has been in the ground for a while, and Mz. Elly can’t smell me on that plant, she leaves it alone.  Elly’s only eaten a Cecile Brunner rose, a small dogwood, a small lantana, and two amaryllis, which required an emetic to make her throw up.  Lately, she’s gotten much better.

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Side Note:  You may think it’s not smart to allow my address to show online.  I gave it a lot of thought before putting up the link; however, I’m not worried.  I have a house alarm, three dogs (two of whom are large and not especially friendly to strangers), and finally, I never go anywhere.  In the age of travel, shopping, movies, etc., I’m home most of the time.  Further, if I did actually go anywhere, I wouldn’t post it online.