Tyler, Jade and Fred (3 dogs in the garden)

jade pulling spruce cones
Jade loves spruce cones. (Animated .gif. Try reloading the page if you missed the action.)

Here’s my post for this month’s Garden Bloggers’ Design Workshop – Pets in the Garden, graciously hosted by Nan and the good folks at Gardening Gone Wild.

I’ve always been a dog person. In my adult life, I’ve had close relationships with three who have all taught me the prayer, “Lord, let me be half the man that my dog thinks I am.” All have been faithful companions and good company in the garden. But frankly, except for a few wattle fences made from Miscanthus floridulus stems to force them to run around instead of through a few beds, they haven’t really affected my garden design much. But they have kept me company in the yard and increased my garden satisfaction immensely.

We got our first dog — Tyler, a golden lab — soon after the birth of our first child, who learned to walk by pulling himself up on the poor pooch’s ears and other body parts. We lived in town for most of Tyler’s 16 years. He was the most destructive of the three garden-wise, digging up the lawn to get at the cool soil below when the weather was hot and pilfering snap peas off the vines he could reach from his overhead run. But those minor infractions were more endearing than damaging.

jade in the morning
Jade in the morning sun.

Jade and Fred haven’t been much trouble in the garden, either. They have been fortunate enough to live most of their double-digit lives thus far within the acre or so of open land we have enclosed with invisislbe fence. They bark greetings to pedestrians and bicyclists, and chase the deer and rabbits out of their space within the fence, though the rabbits will sit just on the other side and laugh at them.

Jade is a great mix of border collie and lab. (That’s her in the banner at the top of the page.) But the border collie half makes her want to ‘work’ all the time. As visitor soon learn, anyone standing in the yard was obviously put there to throw the slimy Norway spruce cone she drops at their feet, and she will bark until you comply.

It used to be that I would have to put her back inside when trying to work in the garden. If I tried to ignore her, she would drop her cone in the hole I was digging or the bucket I was filling or directly in the path of the lawnmore and demand attention. But the grayer she gets, the less she demands. A few tosses and she’ll go lay in the grass and soak up the sun. One of my favorite garden shots is of her rolling in the August grass (snow, grass, or deer poo, rolling is second only to playing fetch with the cones as her outdoor pastime) with a double rainbow overhead.

jade and double rainbow
Jade rolling under the double rainbow.

Fred the Dalmatian is much lower maintenance when he’s outside. We call him cotton dog because his coat is short and he gets chilled easily. But when it’s warm and sunny he’ll snooze in the lawn. (That’s him in the right column.) Early in the season we have to limit his time else he sunburns. He does have a knack for getting in pictures, though. And everyone loves looking at Dalmatians.

fred and outhouse plant
Fred inspecting outhouse plants.

fred and double bloodroot
Fred echoing double bloodroots.

me and corey and fred
My friend Marcia’s favorite picture: Me and Corey (who brought both Fred and Jade into our lives) and Fred.

fred and ridge
My favorite, Fred with the west ridge catching the morning sun.

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7 thoughts on “Tyler, Jade and Fred (3 dogs in the garden)”

  1. I like how Fred looks like he’s dancing in that picture that’s Marcia’s favorite… while you and Corey laugh beside him. I can see why she likes it–it’s just such a happy picture!

    I’m really glad that you admitted that you have had good luck with your dogs in the garden. I was kind of thinking that I might have been spoiled with mine. Not that she doesn’t dig sometimes, and not that she doesn’t beat me to the first ripe tomato most years (grr, lol!) and have a penchant for eating green beans and peas… but still, she’s pretty good. And I like having her around, laying in the sun (or hiding from the sun, in the cool shade of the neighbor’s beech tree) while I work. It’s… companionable. :)

  2. Pam Well, Jade does occasionally lie on beds in the early spring on sunny days because the warm up faster than our mostly wet lawn. But I tend to cut the dogs a break. With such a large yard, the damage is just a drop in the bucket.

    Kim: Yeah. It’s the companionship. I try to be part of the landscape. The dogs are good models, basking in the sun when it’s nice. Telling me it’s really time to go in because it’s too cold, too wet or we’ve been out too long. Dozing off too early after a long day in the sun.

    Now if they only were more aggressive with the voles, chipmunks and rabbits, like other dogs I know.

  3. Great pictures Craig!
    Jade sounds like my Samantha. That’s why she is not allow in my garden because she would do the same thing as Jade, drop the ball in the hole I’m digging and bark at me or grab the “marking” sticks as soon as I put them in the ground. She now barks from outside of the fenced-in garden area.

  4. What fun, Craig – especially the photo sequence up top. And wow, that shot of Jade in the slanting sunlight is breathtaking. Fred certainly does make an admirable color echo for those bloodroots, and many other flowers, I imagine. Both pups look very happy to be part of your garden. Thanks for sharing their stories, and Tyler’s too.

  5. Your dogs remind me of my late, lamented pets. Like Jade, my mutt was always bringing me something to throw while I worked in the garden, and like Fred, my Borzoi was very photogenic and set off many plants. I nearly snorted my coffee watching that photo sequence of Jade! Thanks for sharing about your dogs. They add so much to our lives.

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