Last year, as did so many other people, I adopted a puppy. Over one year of COVID shutdown meant more time at home and no plans to travel; the time seemed right to add a third member to our family. But there was one element of dog-parenting that I had forgotten.

Dog - Illustration by Helen Krayenhoff

At the time of this publication little Juno is 16 weeks old, has huge paws and sharp teeth, loves to dig, and has an insatiable appetite for rocks, sticks, grass, and almost anything humans find repulsive. She can be a perfect angel or an absolute terror. These tendencies pose a serious question: How can I keep my garden?

In my garden one of the first things I did was to identify any toxic plants and either remove them or move them to places not accessible to her. Angel’s Trumpet, Datura wrightii has been a charming volunteer around the garden, but now I remove the seedlings before they bloom. Nightshades, Solanum and other berry-producing plants in this family are pulled up asap. Many plants around my yard could be toxic if ingested in large enough quantities, including Lavender or Lemon Balm but I focus on removing plants that produce toxic fruits or seeds as these are more potent and more attractive to dogs.

Experienced gardeners know the advantages of adding compost to garden beds. This becomes a bit of a problem when you have a little canine snarfler roaming freely. Here is where the art of compromise comes into play. Some spaces must be allowed for puppy activities, while others are strictly off-limits. A short leash can help while passing through areas with fresh soil toppings, and I am finding that it helps to keep her out of areas where I have been digging or planting, for at least 24 hours. This reduces the temptation; but only somewhat. In the mean time we regularly attend puppy school, and wait for her to settle into adult life and find other interests.

On another note, I plan to spend extra time at the nursery this year to help with anniversary events. The musical kickoff for our new stage will be in late April, but it may be called upon to support trees and shrubs; especially fruits. Check in weekly to see what’s happening.

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