It took me
all day actually 2 days to write this. I have gardening on my mind but my mind has been cloudy lately and my body is exhausted. I think I am having withdrawals because I miss having blooms and digging in the dirt. I then realized that many gardeners have pets and many people wonder how to garden with pets and so I thought about how to tackle this subject.
I know I should have written this a long time ago because I struggle with not losing my mind and my wits when our beautiful but spirited Sierra, our Australian Shepherd, goes flying through the flower bed on her way to chasing a squirrel. Or when my little Gerdy Mae, my Jack/Fox terrier mix, goes hunting for grubs and moles. She loves to snack on grubs which she usually finds under the surface in the gardens and lawn. She does not make a real mess digging for her snacks. However, she loves to dig for moles. Her keen sense of smell and the sensitivity to know if the run is active makes her a crazed hunter. She will sniff the ground and then wildly dig to unearth a trail of mole runs. At this point Sierra joins in and the 2 dogs can tear up a bed in a matter of minutes. This is when I have learned to laugh- maybe not at first- but I have learned to look at the good in the situation. Yes there is good when dogs dig up a bed, well at least in my heavy clay soil.
Then there is Dora. Dora is my oldest son’s cat that he had to leave behind when he moved out of state. Dora thinks I am her human mom too. She loves Gerdy and Gerdy just wants her to go away…I post many pictures of Dora bathing Gerdy or cuddling with her on the couch. From the look in Gerdy’s eyes, when Dora snuggles up close, the “please help me” and “make her go away” just makes you giggle.
Living with dogs and cats can make life quite difficult but at the same time it can be quite funny. Dogs especially give you unconditional love. Dogs do not stay mad even if they are punished. Dogs greet you with their tails wagging and tongue lapping on your hands and face to tell you “I missed you!” In our home, the dogs know all the right words such as walk, ride, treat, let’s go, and even nap. Jingling of the keys immediately alerts them to car ride and the opening of the freezer at night has them running for ice cream. We tried to spell some of the words but Sierra figured out what KLAW was after a few times so we decided spelling was not the answer. We now do hand gestures but we have to make sure to do them when the dogs are not looking because Sierra seems to know what we are talking about (she perks her ears, wags her stub of a tail, and then stares at you with those puppy dog eyes).
I have had to learn to let go of the difficult part and just breathe. Believe me it has not been easy. I am very set in my ways and did not want dogs until we were offered Gerdy Mae 3 1/2 years ago (free) and I said yes. She weighed less than 4lbs at 9 weeks old and was so adorable- I could not say no. I had her 95% housebroke by the time she was 12 weeks! She was kenneled trained until she was about 6 months old when she started wimpering at night. I could not take it so I let her sleep with me while my hubby was working out of town. That was my first mistake because 3 years later she still sleeps under the covers with me curled up by my stomach. (yes I wash the sheets a lot!)
Anyhow, my dogs love to be where I am. I am their human mom and with that comes the attachment of watching me and following me everywhere. It as if the dogs (and Dora the cat) are toddlers watching and clinging to “mom” wherever she goes. After all, they might be thinking, she is going to leave us and we cannot let that happen. Gerdy Mae has separation anxiety and when I leave she will go curl up on my pillow until I return. Sierra is not quite as bad but she will mope a bit but she will at least go outside and chase squirrels. It is really tough for me to have fur babies. I go through a vacuum bag every other week only because I vacuum every other day now. Otherwise I would fill up a bag a week with the dog hair. I love to vacuum and at least if I miss a day the carpet hides hair better than the hardwood and laminate.
It is a trade off living with animals. I do not have the kitty litter in the house. Years ago before we had the option of putting in a cat door to the garage/workshop, I had a turned a large sink base kitchen cabinet into a cat bathroom to fit a large under the bed plastic tote for kitty litter because, and this is just my cleanphobia, I do not want the litter any where in site nor do I want to smell it. When Thomas the cat died 2 years ago we tossed the old cat bathroom and decided to put the litter in the garage which is really a workshop because it is not big enough for a car. My cats are all inside /outside cats and we have installed a doggy door just for that reason. What a great thing to do! The cats are housebroke and the only time they use the kitty litter is in the dead of winter (January here in the south) when they do not want to go outside in 12 degree weather. I have had people tell me that letting cats go outside shortens their life, and my argument is, that cats are hunters and they love the outdoors. Besides, I point out, Thomas our 20+ year old cat was an indoor/outdoor cat and he lived a good life hunting by day and sleeping with the kids at night. Everyone with fur gets flea preventative and rabies shots and the freedom to move in and out.
To live with animals you must learn to let go of some hang ups you may have about clean and even about love. My house is clean as it is going to get at times with a teenage son and 2 dogs and 3 cats running in and out. The one place I can control for clean is the kitchen where I make sure to wipe down the counters before doing anything. I just have this thing about clean having a kitchen (and bathrooms) and I do not trust cats. Sure I do not let them on the counters or island but cats are sneaky and even though I want to brag “my cats never get on the counter” I best not take that bet…
Having pets is a wonderful thing. My teenage son has been around animals his whole life and he has never had anything more than a bad cold. Animals make great companions and it is even proven that having pets can make you happy and live longer. So I am thinking that I will live a long time with my house full of fur.
Creating. Inspiring, Gardening without the rules!
After finishing up the post, I realized I never wrote about gardening with dogs. So one day I will write about how I deal with dogs running wild in the flower bed. I will even have pictures to show you the paths the dogs create and that I have learned to work around.
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