Gardening with Dogs

Mans’ Best Friend – Gardens’ awkward acquaintance.

I love my dogs. I love them so much that a major factor for leaving an apartment in Vancouver for a house on Vancouver Island was to give our aging-but-still-healthy dogs the freedom they both had, and likely wished to reclaim. That’s me being nice – the other reason is I was going mad listening to them meander around our uncarpeted 700 square feet.

Odin, left is 10. Thor, right is 8

I immediately fenced-in our yard here. Again, it was for the dogs, but also for me. Opening a door for them seems like Heaven compared to getting dressed, putting on boots and a rain jacket, leashing them up, walking down 3 flights of stairs, waiting for them to pee, picking up their poo, avoiding the angry homeless folks living in all the hidden areas in which I prefer my dogs pee, unlocking the garbage area, dumping the dog poo, unlocking the front door, walking up 3 flights of stairs, toweling-off the dogs and wiping their feet…..all multiple times a day. Regardless, the move is mutually beneficial.

Not so, for the garden, however! One reason for the raised-beds is to keep feet out of it – kids, dogs..etc. This hasn’t worked thus far: deter – yes; prevent – no. Should a squirrel chirp in the neighbours yeard, Odin and Thor forget where they are and take the shortest route. Lettuce crushed under-foot does not have the same appeal as it does in traditional wine-making. Where every foot-fall is a seed that didn’t sprout, and every trampled area is an eye-sore of lost productivity my neighbours have become accustomed to hearing me shout “Get out!”

Thor and Odin eat the trimmings from my brussel sprouts…including the seed pods I meant to keep.

I once had a yellow lab named Gus. He also loved to ruin the garden. I recall my parents planting a “curry plant,” which was promptly ruined as Gus started to roll in it. A house smelling of curry is nice, a dog rolling in your garden – not so much. Gus also discovered he could purse his lips and eat blackberries and raspberries. I was proud of him as he would collect blackberries with us in the summer. When we discovered our raspberries were bare and destroyed the pride subsided. Dogs are great, but don’t teach them to scavenge.

Odin discovering fresh carrots

At least once a day I walk to the garden or out onto the balcony just to stand and observe. This is usually when the neighbours hear me yelling: Is that Odin digging for truffles amongst the onions? Hell-no! He’s just on a rampage. Has Thor taken to assisting his master in weeding the raised beds? Not even close! He’s just eating the cabbages. Can you play anywhere other than in the raised beds? Can you ignore some of the noises in the bushes?

Fortunately, neither Odin or Thor have discovered the blueberries, nor do they realize that there are carrots in the dirt (they love carrots). While I discover what grows well and what grows poorly, I am learning that another factor will be, what plants are dog-resistant?

Odin is 10 and Thor is 8 years old. While they still act like puppies and seem to be in good health, I know they have few years left. Perhaps I need to look past the damage and look to the finer moments. Abby pulling a carrot and feeding it to Odin melted my heart. Odin standing on my lettuces jumping at barking at a squirrel above in the tree actually brought a laugh before I yelled. I can try to control and perfect, but we all share the space…even the pests.


3 thoughts on “Gardening with Dogs

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  1. The picture of Abby and Odin is adorable! She is such a cutie!
    When we had our huge market garden, our Chesapeake Bay Retriever would take out after a rabbit across the beds, so I feel your pain. 🙂 I found a roll of plastic netting fence, I think it was 36″ tall that was pretty cheap. You might get something like that, (cut it in half, so it was 18″ tall) and put a few stakes (maybe cut tree branches) around the top of your raised beds and fence them out. It wouldn’t stop the dogs in a dead run, but after a few times of bumping it, they would remember it was there and start using the walkways.
    Your garden looks lovely from where the dogs sit in the top picture.

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