Dogs and the Garden: an Intriguing Connection

Pet Friendly Garden sculpture at Oregon Gardens
 Silverton, OR
Is your passion divided between gardening and dogs? There is a connection, I think. Plants and dogs have lots in common:
  • They're very forgiving
  • They awe-inspiring
  • Once you've entered their worlds, there is no turning back
  • They're full of surprises
  • No two are alike
  • You can't imagine life without them
     Maybe it's because I was born in the year "That Doggie in the Window"* was a hit song. Or that following my grandma around as she tenderly picked, sniffed and touched the plants in her garden made me feel a certain reverence for having been allowed entrance into that magical world.

     Our first two Cairn terriers, Piper and Tater, liked to help in the garden. On the day we planted turnip chunks in hopes of growing veggies for the first time, we noticed the girls hadn't come inside after us.  Just as I was about to turn on the lights to see if they were still out, they came bursting through the doggie door--paws and faces so mud-caked I couldn't tell one from the other. They'd freed and eaten every last turnip, thinking, I'm sure, we had buried them just so they could hone their terrier skills by digging them up.

Tater the Zucchini Destroyer
     Another foray into veggie growing came when we decided we had space for one zucchini plant. As zucchini are known to do, ours grew like gangbusters, reaching out and cloaking its neighbors in its giant leaves. It finally gave birth to a zucchini, which my husband and I both spotted at the same time. At the rate the vine was growing, we knew it would be the perfect size for harvest in a day or two.

     Late the next day I went to check on it and found the vine had been cut back. I stood there wondering what might have happened when my husband came outside, followed by Tater.
     "Did you cut the zucchini back," I asked him.
     "No. I thought you did it," he said.
     Just then we both looked down and saw Tater staring up at us, her red-gold face fur tinged a mossy green. I frantically searched for the lone zucchini, which I found bearing several scrapes that looked as if they'd been made by teeth.
     The zucchini was salvageable. The plant was not. Tater had gnawed the main stem, tasted the fruit, decided it wasn't that good, and gone for the leaves, making a meal out of two or three of the larger ones.

Don't get me wrong--I'm no cat-hater. It's just that I'm allergic to cats. But I'm wondering how many gardeners also share their lives with dogs, and if you've gained some insight into a connection. I'd love to hear your Dog and Garden stories.

*By the way, Patti Page recorded a new version of "That Doggie in the Window" for the Humane Society of the United States, with lyrics highlighting the plight of homeless pets. It's called "Can You See That Doggie in the Shelter"

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