Dog ver­sus the bo­gey­man in the gar­den

Marlborough Express - The Saturday Express, Marlborough - - GARDENING -

They are not usu­ally al­lowed to dig or sit in the gar­den but they fig­ure the rules are more re­laxed if I am do­ing both.

The dogs’ as­sis­tance with gar­den­ing tasks varies be­tween di­rect and in­di­rect in­volve­ment.

Of­ten it takes the form of find­ing a sunny spot and keep­ing a keen eye out for bo­gey­men.

Dog own­ers will most likely know what I’m talk­ing about when I say the world is in­hab­ited by bo­gey­men vis­i­ble only to dogs.

Most of these hap­pen in pup­py­hood (just ask the dog about Scary Rub­bish Bag or Scary Stump) and dis­ap­pear as you so­cialise pup­pies so they be­come com­fort­able with en­coun­ter­ing new things.

Some, how­ever, re­main. The dog en­coun­tered Scary Pot­ting Mix Bag just a cou­ple of years ago, for ex­am­ple. What was dif­fer­ent about that par­tic­u­lar bag you would have to ask him.

The she-wolf also knows about bo­gey­men. She will of­ten tilt back her head and glare into the mid­dle-dis­tance at some­thing only she can see. Of­ten, how­ever, this will re­solve it­self into some­thing she has heard be­fore us, like the rat­tling of a trailer in the vine­yard be­hind us.

I cre­ated a bo­gey­man re­cently, much to both my and the dog’s sur­prise. I was dig­ging out con­volvu­lus, which has been a prob­lem plant along one fence­line some time.

I had it un­der con­trol in one area, only for it to sneak into an­other gar­den and gain a strong hold. I wanted it gone be­fore spring and a cou­ple of weeks ago I was on a roll.

I cleared a large area of the creep­ing roots that grow just be­low the sur­face. The dogs were thrilled; bare dirt. They are not usu­ally al­lowed to dig or sit in the gar­den but they fig­ure the rules are more re­laxed if I am­do­ing both.

While the she-wolf sat­is­fied her­self by curl­ing up be­hind me, the dog de­cided I was dig­ging a new hol­low just for him. When I paused to sur­vey a bit I’d just fin­ished, he dived into the hol­low. I ti­died up around him and moved on.

I find gar­den­ing can some­times be al­most a full body im­mer­sion ex­pe­ri­ence, say, for ex­am­ple when you are try­ing to reach stub­born weeds in a gar­den full of trees with low branches.

An un­ex­pected out­come of this is that you are very well cam­ou­flaged when in this po­si­tion. Which is how the bo­gey­man came to visit the dog.

He was doz­ing, curled up smugly en­joy­ing the spot he had claimed and had not re­alised I was dig­ging nearby un­til I yanked on a par­tic­u­larly long con­volvu­lus root and it scuf­fled the leaves around him.

Once he re­alised his bo­gey­man was just me, he was quick to join me in the new ex­posed soil area in case it was more in­ter­est­ing than his.

I did not fully re­alise the ex­tent of his in­ter­est un­til the full body im­mer­sion be­cause a lit­tle more in­tense.

While I was stretched out full length pulling out con­volvu­lus root, the dog was ‘help­ing’ me ex­pose the roots be­hind me more.

Un­for­tu­nately, in the process, he was bury­ing my legs.

As I said, the dogs of­ten help in the gar­den. Some­times, how­ever, we have dif­fer­ent opin­ions on what is ac­tu­ally help­ful.

PHOTO: STUFF

Dogs of­ten think they are be­ing help­ful when they dig in the gar­den.

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