Dogs in the garden

by Adam Pasco

Life would be so dull without Magic. Coming up to four years old now, our miniature black poodle is such a wonderful companion.

Magic the dogLife would be so dull without Magic. Coming up to four years old now, our miniature black poodle is such a wonderful companion. If you ever sit down she'll be there on your lap, prodding your hand for a stroke. But when you're walking round the garden she's like a shadow, following closely in your footsteps to see if she can 'help' in any way.

Yes, she does get her nose into everything. That's her nature - inquisitive, bold, nosy, but great company. Thankfully she doesn't eat everything in sight, although she is quite partial to tomatoes if they drop onto the greenhouse floor. We can't put bread out for the birds any more, as Magic sees this as her food. Now all she can do is wait for birds to carry the odd piece of bread from next door and drop it on our lawn by mistake. Yum!

I mentioned in my blog a few weeks ago the problem we've had with squirrels, but I wouldn't recommend getting a dog if you're troubled by them. Yes she'll chase them down the garden, and bark ferociously to scare them away, but as soon as her back is turned they're back. Aren't they always?

I can't think of anything useful my dog actually does in the garden. Despite poodles being quite intelligent dogs and easy to train to do tricks, so far she hasn't taken to weeding. Watering... well, that's a different matter. She loves it! No sooner have I pulled out the hose than she is there. Then the fun really starts as she jumps in and out of the jet like a demented, well, dog. On a hot summer's day I'll let her get soaked to cool down. When the children were small she'd jump into the paddling pool with them. Now she prefers sitting with her mouth wide open gobbling at the water. I almost expect her to fill up like a balloon, but things like that only happen in cartoons.

Such fun and enjoyment. Gardening just wouldn't be the same without a dog by my side. Magic really makes my day, every day.

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Talkback: Dogs in the garden
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Gardeners' World Web User 18/12/2007 at 01:13

My own dog Poppy, an airedale terrier, was never much use around the garden until this summer when I discovered she had a hidden gardening talent. We have a terrible problem with next door's bindweed which spends all year trying to take over our borders, but it is impossible to completely dig the roots out of our heavy, claggy clay soil without it snapping into pieces. Being a terrier, Poppy is a great digger and when told to, will enthusiastically dig in any specific spot until told to stop. So on my command she will begin to slowly dig out a patch of bindweed, stopping every few seconds to allow me to pick out the roots from the big pile of broken up clay she effortlessly gets out. She dug down almost a metre this spring in one particularly bad spot allowing me to get out some massive roots (and all the little bits too) and refill the hole with the bindweed-free friable, airated clay. well done poppy! Makes it easy to forgive her less helpful garden antics, like squashing the new season's growth under her massive paws as she sees squirrels off her patch.

Gardeners' World Web User 29/12/2007 at 10:40

Now that's one clever dog! I'll follow your advice and train Magic to help with the weeding, although she'll need a good bath by the end of it I'm sure. I wonder if anyone else has a dog with hidden gardening talents?

Gardeners' World Web User 01/01/2008 at 13:19

I can't imagine gardening without my two Border Terrier dogs - Sporran and Poppy. They're always by my side come rain or shine, normally sticking their noses in trying to see what I'm doing. Who else can I rely on to trample my border plants, create dog circles (wee marks) in my lawn and set booby traps for me in the form of small holes dug randomly around the place. I wouldn't have it any other way.

Gardeners' World Web User 09/01/2008 at 17:18

I have to agree with everyone about canine company in the garden. I have a Siberian Husky called Nanuk that loves nothing more than being with me in my garden. They say Huskies are intelligent dogs but in Nuks case,I am yet to see any evidence to back this up so I don't think I'll get him weeding or mowing the lawn but just having him by my side makes gardening that bit more special! He's taken to eating the nuts I leave on the floor for the squirrels too! Don't think the squirrels are very impressed!

Gardeners' World Web User 12/01/2008 at 16:44

I too love being in the garden with my dog - Millie, a Jack Russell now nearly two. Brains? I'm not sure, but her digging instinct is great for a root removal assistant. I hope her searches for rats are discouraging unwelcome visitors. As she doesn't like water, the water vole in the brook at the bottom of our garden is safe!

The only problem is that my efforts to puppy-proof our boundary have made it difficult, I suspect, for visitors like hedgehogs who would be very welcome.

A suggestion for Alan Pasco - what about one of those 'cages' you can anchor to the lawn to prevent big birds (crows, jackdaws,magpies) taking the bread? Ours works very well for dogs too! You can get the cages from the RSPB and Pets at Home.

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