Sunday, March 30, 2008

Dogs and Gardening Sometimes Don't Mix

On Friday I turned my two compost piles. The first is a chicken wire cage I built. The other is a black plastic one that a friend gave me after she found it at her new house.

When I dumped the black plastic one, my dog, who had been helping me dig through the piles finding the ripe stuff, suddenly ran off. After leaping over the compost piles (okay, stumbling over), I noticed that she had a small, um, mouse in her mouth. (I think it was really a r-a-t but let's just skip that part.) My dog really just wanted to play with the mouse. She was doing a play bow, a doggie invitation to play. She's always looking for friends to play with in the yard.

And as has happened with the anole, fuzzy caterpillar, and grasshopper friends she's tried to make, she accidentally killed it. I know she didn't mean to because she gave me a look saying, "But why isn't it playing with me?" When I tried to get the poor mouse away from her, she then decided that the new game was chase, her with the mouse, me with the shovel.

I finally caught up with her next to the shed, where excitement or taste had resulted in a dead mouse covered with a pile of dog vomit. (I really hope you aren't eating breakfast right now.)

Yesterday I started double digging a new bed in the backyard. It will be my first flower bed in the backyard, and the first bed outside of my fenced-in vegetable garden. Keeping the dog out of this bed will be a challenge, but I've decided I'm up for it. I've started with an area where my husband had been storing some wood left over from building our shed. (Don't ask me why he wasn't storing it in the shed we built. Those are the mysteries of the male mind.)

Anyway, the grass under there was already dead so digging was easy. I will widen and lengthen the area, but for now it's a good start.

Of course, the dog was there to help. When I pulled the plastic back, a huge toad hopped out. A new friend!, my dog immediately thought.

She touched the toad with her mouth, and within seconds of this photo, she was frothing profusely. I tried to get her away from the toad, but she's fast and wanted to play. More frothing. I managed to get the toad back under the plastic and immediately ran inside to google "dog toad frothing texas." Apparently, some toads here are poisonous so I called the emergency vet clinic. The nice guy there said she was frothing because the toad probably tasted bad. If she still had symptoms after two hours, I should bring her in. (Luckily, she was fine.)

The vet tech said, "Well, at least, she's learned her lesson."

I said, "Oh no, she's still out there trying to make friends."


  1. My pup is a great garden "helper," as well, and I think she's as excited about compost as yours is. I keep meaning to write a post about her. Sometime soon!

    Rachel @ in bloom

  2. In The Essential Earthman, Henry Mitchell wrote a lot about dogs and toads, saying that for most dogs, one attempt at carrying a toad was enough of a learning experience for a lifetime...but he also had dogs he loved that were a little slow to pick up the connection... fun story, Vert!

    Annie at the Transplantable Rose

  3. Oh what a fun story! Our pup is not much into "making friends" and our yard is offically a "aqirrel free zone". We're most relieved that she doesn't bother the hummingbirds.

  4. How funny. It sound like an afternoon with Abby.


  5. I'm beginning to think we should have a doggie playdate with all the gardening dogs! Rachel's dog, Wenches's dog, and Abby.

    I'm going to scouring all of your posts now for information on keeping the pup out of the new flower bed.

    Annie, it's nice to know my dog isn't the only one who is slow on the uptake!

  6. LOL!!! What a great story. Your dog is adorable... mine doesn't try to make new friends in the garden, but she does eat my tomatoes. And green beans.