Gardening with dogs

Published 6:00 am Friday, October 2, 2020

Hello, fellow gardeners. My name is Anca vom Dreifke Wood. I’m my mom’s new garden helper.

I can’t pick locks and open gates like my sister Uschi, but I’m good at carrying things from one part of the garden to another. I just need to figure out how to anticipate where my mom wants her trowels. I’m also good at preventing the fierce water hose from attacking anyone. I bite the water and growl at it. Some day I’m going to be a fierce guard dog.

My mom is still busy with last minute work in the garden, but I have some dog-specific advice for her and my fellow gardeners too. First, it’s time to plant bulbs, lots of them – tulips, daffodils, hyacinths, and snow drops. Just be careful when you plant them because they’re all toxic to us canine helpers. If you leave them where we can find them, we just might steal a few and try to eat them, a prank that might have fatal results. We’re all scallywags, you know.

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When you review your garden’s late fall appearance and make notes for next spring, consider setting aside an area just for your friendly canine helpers. We would love a digging pit where we can dig lots of holes and bury treasures. I promise that it’s a simple project. Select a location that’s out of the way and has afternoon shade. Decide how large to make it. A border collie probably needs a four foot square area. I’ll need a five foot square space, just big enough for digging and for lounging in a cool, moist hole on a hot afternoon. Mark the boundaries with some metal edging or timbers and then dig down about 2-1/2 feet. Remove the soil and fill the pit with sand.

And now for the best part. Hide some new toys and bones or other treasures in the sand to encourage me to dig. You might want to take me over to the pit, dig a bit, and show me a hidden treasure. You want to encourage me to dig here, not in other areas of the garden. I think your garden helpers will like their digging pits as much as I like mine. Don’t forget to periodically add new surprises to the pit. Like all kids, we canines get bored easily and need something new to catch our interest.

Happy digging, your friend Anca.

DR. CYNTHIA WOOD is a master gardener. Her email address is cynthia.