In the series I wrote last spring, “The Challenges of Gardening with Dogs – Are Your Plants Safe?”, I forgot one other challenging aspect of gardening with dogs, in a different way. Dogs want to “help” when you’re gardening or working in the yard.
After a long winter, we always anticipate spring and the fresh air and warmth it will bring. Somehow I always forget one other thing it can bring: a lot of work. We get so excited about being able to be outdoors, we want to do everything at once.
Gardens and yards need to be raked out, because no matter how many leaves you rake or blow out in the fall, many find their way back in. I am a bit obsessed with not letting there be leaf piles in the dog yard, because that is where nasty little ticks will hide. Keeping the yard clean is imperative.
First order of business on any weekend morning is to play with the dogs. Dad usually handles that on the weekend, before starting his own chores. You’d think that would tire the crew out enough, but no matter what we’re doing outside, in or out of their yard, the dogs want to be with us, or at least watching us.
Even though she’s been back in the house already panting away, once Cricket has caught her breath and cooled down a bit, she’s ready to go again! Luke simply wants to be with us, but Cricket just wants us to throw her ball.
How do they help me with my raking? By walking through my leaf piles and/or dropping their ball in it. That’s Cricket’s way of making it tough to ignore. It takes twice as long to do anything if you have to stop and throw the ball every 30 seconds! If she has already played, Cricket is told “No, take a break.” She understands that command fairly well, but that doesn’t stop her from wandering around the yard and occasionally dropping the ball at my feet in the hopes that I’ll change my mind.
We’ve had some very nice weather lately, above average temperatures, so we’ve been spending a lot of time outside. I’ve been raking out gardens as well as the dog yard. While we’re still waiting for mud season to end, things are drying quickly and I was pleased to find this last weekend that my herb garden area was workable.
Not only did we get the new chicks to keep us busy, but I wanted to start planting some seeds. I started some indoors to transplant later, and some in the herb garden. I’m still waiting for my big vegetable garden to be created, so I decided to start some early lettuce, kale, and parsley in the herb garden, which is inside the dog’s yard.
Luke, who is less ball obsessed than his sister, is more interested in what I’m doing. I’m constantly saying “leave it” when he wants to steal my gardening gloves or see what kind of seeds I’m planting. He also loves it when I’m down at his level, and thinks that’s an excuse to get in my face and give me a kiss!
I’m constantly muttering “if you two don’t stop bothering me, you’re going in the house!”, and sometimes I do have to carry out that threat, so I can just finish what I’m doing!
I fence in each little area where I plant, but Cricket, who fancies herself a cat who can get anywhere, can get through the larger fence so I have to continue to keep an eye on her any time she’s outside. That reminds me of one more post I have planned for that gardening series – not just making sure the plants I put in there are safe, but anything I add to the soil must be safe for the dogs as well. Stay tuned for that post, coming soon.
Spring is crazy busy, and will be for a while as we get the yard and gardens in order, and start our farm. Dad is busy trying to get the wood cut up then stacked so it can dry for next winter, and his next big project is building a chicken coop! Those chicks will be growing up and ready to go outside in just a few weeks.
It’s all good fun, and wouldn’t my gardening and yard work be lonely and boring without my canine assistants? Eventually I’ll be working in my big vegetable garden away from their yard, but I know they will be at their fence keeping an eye on me.
The bonus to it all? We have some pretty pooped out pups by the end of the weekend, and when we leave for work on Monday morning, I think they’re almost relieved for the chance to catch up on their napping.