Dog days of summer, yes. It’s still hot. And dry. But that isn’t what my blog is about this month. It’s actually about dogs. On a violet blog? Sure, why not! Actually, I have mentioned in the past that I try to keep my dogs out of the plant room. (Try is the key word here.) I do this for a few different reasons. First, I believe that little outdoor pests can hitch rides into the house on our pets. And one of my dogs is an Afghan hound – with plenty of fur for hitchhikers. Another reason I like to keep them out is because that same aforementioned hound has destructive tendencies, and violet leaves are not immune. I also house a couple pet birds in my plant room. Those, too, are a favorite target of that hound I keep mentioning. (Moral of this: don’t get an Afghan hound.)
We have 3 dogs – small, medium and large. Our tiny Italian greyhound named Lily has to be separated at chow time. The bigger dogs will steal her food, which she attempts to protect with considerable might for such a small dog. And since it was causing a great amount of friction, we installed a nifty little doggie gate going into the plant room. We can walk through, and there is also a tiny little door built in to the bottom (presumably for a cat,) that Lily can use at her leisure. Voila! Problem solved. Or so we thought.
Luna says, "Can't I come in?"
When I spend short amounts of time in the plant room, I generally keep the bigger dogs out. They pathetically sit by the gate with their sad expressions, occasionally whining about the unfair separation from the pack. Even though they can see me and are technically right there, it just isn’t good enough. They want to be under my feet, tripping me up as I carry trays of leaves or jugs of water. They want to terrorize the birds, eat feathers and wayward seeds and otherwise crimp my style. And eventually (if I work too long,) they decide to roughhouse, which leads to knocked-over plants, barking and flying fur. Not my idea of calm and meditative “me-time.”
Lily says, "You're not getting my food!"
Lily usually gets to stay in the room since she isn’t as understanding about the whole separation thing. But she can really make things difficult. If I sit on the floor to groom a tray of plants, Lily wants to curl up in my lap. If her food bowl is empty, she scrabbles at it until I fill it. When I fill it, she pushes it around the room trying to “bury” it. Sometimes it gets tipped over, which is just terrible. She’ll spend a half hour pushing it around again trying to upright it, all the while each little kibble underneath is rattling away. Sometimes the whole bowl is pushed under a plant stand, and then she spends her time trying to dig the whole thing out again. If that doesn’t work, she cries until I stop what I’m doing to fish it out. If she actually manages to get it covered under her blankie, she spends the next half hour or more ferociously guarding it from the other dogs who are on the other side of the gate. *SIGH*
So much for the gate!
I really thought we had it figured out, though. Even with the irritations and interruptions, the gate worked until one day when I had taken a guest into the plant room. Luna miraculously appeared next to us as we were talking plants. Huh? I went to close the gate, assuming I’d left it open by accident. Nope. It was still closed. That 40- lb. dog had squeezed her way through the tiny cat door! And now that she knows she can do it, she does it every single day unless I close the little door. Ok, so originally I planned on having a dog-free plant zone. Then, I had to let the little one in so she could eat and not be a problem. Now, I have the two of them, and I feel bad for the poor loner guy on the other side. Of course, it’s not fair to leave him out. So, I guess it’ll have to be all or nothing from now on!
By Amy Cash-Allison
It's all about the violets! :-)