Good Garden Dogs

Good Garden Dogs

As many of you know, my husband and I got a new dog last October. We adopted Sparky from the Cape Ann Animal Aid which is located, don’t you love it, at 4 Paws Lane in Gloucester, but his litter was rescued off the streets of Puerto Rico by All Sato Rescue.  Sparky turned one in July, and he’s learning how to be a good garden dog.

One of the first things I learned last fall was that this dog would love to be a digger. I took him into one of the gardens on the leash in November when I was intending to transplant some hosta. But when I stuck the shovel into the ground and turned some soil out of the hole, Sparky immediately jumped into the spot and started to push up more dirt with his paws. It was if he was saying, “Digging? I’m great at digging!” I immediately told him “No!” and led him elsewhere as a distraction. The last thing that any gardener needs is a dog who loves to dig holes in the flower beds.

All of our dogs have had to learn that there are many periods when we’re working in the garden and they just have to settle in and be patient. They learn that there are areas where they can run (the paths through the veggie garden for example) and areas where they will be scolded in they trample through. They discover which shady spots are coolest for staying cool while the humans work, and which places offer the best view of the birds and squirrels under the bird feeder.

We have also been teaching Sparky that there are things he’s allowed to chew such as his toys from Country Garden, and other things that he’s not allowed to eat. He’s learned that we’ll take large wood chips away and give him a bone or toy instead. And he’s discovered that nothing makes me yell louder than if he grabs the stem of a shrub and tries to tug it free from the ground. And it isn’t only the dog who is learning…I have realized that if I don’t want him to chew mulch and plants that I’d better offer him something else to chomp on. And I’ve seen that there’s nothing like a new toy to distract a dog while I get some yard work done.

Now that summer is in full swing, he’s getting the hang of this garden dog business, and discovering that although picking beans and squash is pretty boring from a dog’s point of view, occasionally he’s called into action to defend the crops. All I have to do is say “Bunny!” and he’s off fast as lightening, chasing the interloper away from the garden.

All in all, it’s a good life being a garden dog on Cape Cod!

Occasionally Sparky will come into the garden as I work. "Aren't you done picking beans?"

Occasionally Sparky will come into the garden as I work. “Aren’t you done picking beans?”

This spot in Annual Alley has a good view of the veggie garden and the front porch. Sparky is poised to chase any rabbits that dare to come near.

This spot in Annual Alley has a good view of the veggie garden and the front porch. Sparky is poised to chase any rabbits that dare to come near.

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