February 18, 2009

Pets in the Garden

White-Factored Rough Collie
( 1984-1998 )

Shih Tzu
( 1985-2002 )

Black & Silver Mini Schnauzer
2003 -

Gardeninggonewild is inviting us to post about pets in the garden . I read somewhere that dogs are the worse enemy of the garden but I would add that it depends on the kind of dog.

My neighbor several houses down has a basset hound that likes to dig in the garden. I can hear her shrill voice scolding him : " Now, Wilbur, that's a flower and you mustn't dig it up ! " If it were only that easy. Certain breeds of dogs are prone to dig huge holes for burying bones or seeking cool places to lie down in.

I've been fortunate to have 3 "garden friendly" dogs . Lucky, a white-factored Collie ( there are 5 colors other than Lassie in the breed ) was very genteel and respectful of the garden and during his 14-year lifespan didn't injure a single plant. He was the sweetest and smartest of dogs and I still miss him to this day. I'm a big fan of Rough Collies but the big drawback is keeping their beautiful coat in top shape. My first born Cathy , a Collie lover like myself, has two smooth coats , or short-haired ones. They are a rare sight and she is constantly asked what kind of dogs they are to which she retorts : " Lassie, without the fur coat. "

My neighbor's ShihTzu had puppies and we selected a robust, chubby male from the litter and named it Odie. I wanted Lucky to have a companion since he was home alone a lot in those days. Lucky seemed to think he had become a daddy and he and Odie became great companions. I'm a big stickler for not over-feeding my dogs and Lucky, to our vet's amazement, lived to the ripe old age of 14, which is rare for large breeds.

Shih Tzu's may be small but they have a gigantic personality and intelligence. So now I had two dogs with gorgeous coats that demanded a lot of my attention . Odie filled our lives with his mere presence for 17 years and is sorely missed.

There's a big void in my heart and home without the companionship of a dog and it wasn't long before I was longing for another one. My younger sister Linda had two wonderful Schnauzers and highly recommended them. I was drawn to the "no shedding " and constant grooming that I'd had with Lucky and Odie.

We made a trip to a breeder in a far western suburb and she had a pen full of all colors and sizes of Schnauzers, mostly the popular silver colored ones. The one that caught my eye and stood out from the crowd was a beautiful black and silver pup that showed interest in me. The other puppies were busy playing with each other and paid no mind. We named her Jojo and she has been a delightful dog for the past 7 years.

Schnauzers are " the dog with a human brain " as one book declared. Intelligent, alert and playful they make delightful pets. Jojo doesn't know her size. She'll charge any stranger that enters her portals as if she were " 10 foot tall and bullet proof. " One day she charged my neighbors great Dane. Have you ever seen a Great Dane running from a Mini-Schnauzer? A funny sight, indeed.

She's a good garden dog and likes to sniff everything I plant. Like many dogs she tends to nibble on some plants which may be a digestive aid so I've planted a bit of wheat grass in the corner for her and trained her to eat it instead.

Schnauzers are rat terriers and Jojo is as good as a cat at mousing and keeps the squirrels and rabbits chased away from the garden. Now if she could only pull out those weeds.


  1. A lovely and tender tribute to your canine friends, Carolyn. Especially lovely that you painted them all. Jojo is just too cute for words, but I've told you that before. I'm going to be staying with people who have two small friendly dogs while I'm working on a project in another part of the project, and I expect to be totally 'puppified' by the time it's done.

  2. How lucky you've been in your canine companions. Jojo sounds like she's more than earning her keep. I can easily imagine a Great Dane running from a Mini Schaunzer. Dogs don't realize how big or small they are. My Borzoi used to allow herself to be pushed around by a 5 pound Maltese. (I kept trying to get her to pick up her head so the Maltese couldn't reach her.) Dogs add so much to life. I'm still working on trying to replace my late, lamented pets.

  3. Hi,
    I love the paintings of your dogs. My Cocker, Maggie, used to follow me and when I would sit on my stool to weed...she would lie right next to me and wait for me to move on.They are such faithful companions.

  4. Hi Carolyn Gail, your art and your love for your pets make this the most enjoyable of posts. I love how you explained the differences between them. Intelligence is to highly prized in any animal, my poor cat Hazel lacks that attribute. It sounds like Jojo is the perfect dog too, no shedding and keeps the rodents at bay!

  5. Sure brings back memories mom!

  6. I can certainly imagine that a Schnauzer would be loads easier to care for than a Collie, grooming-wise! But all of your companions sound delightful. Thanks so much for sharing their stories for the GGW Design Workshop.

  7. You've been blessed with your canine companions. I loved reading your sweet tribute to them and seeing your paintings. Jojo sounds like a great little garden helper for keeping the beasties at bay.
    We've had a few faithful and well-loved dogs, but in more recent years have limited our menagerie to cats. One main reason for that being they don't chase cows through fences :)

  8. Thank you all for visiting and commenting.

  9. We had a sweet Collie, Mariah, until this year when she finally died of old age. It was always a struggle to keep her coat beautiful. It often wasn't to tell the truth. We still have a lovely Lab, who is darling and gentle on everything, but the garden. It's all right though. He moves when I ask. Your pets all sound lovely. Pets make our lives happier don't they?

  10. What wonderful paintings Carolyn, and sweet tributes to your beloved canine companions past and current.

    Our dog George has always been respectful of the garden. He never tore anything up or dug, but he did enjoy romping through it - didn't work for me since he's about 80 pounds and could wreak a lot of havoc in very little time. These days he rarely steps into the garden, just occasionally to chase a squirrel. I know he's trying to help, but even the squirrels aren't really afraid of him.


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