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  • Writer's pictureFran Cleland

Dogs, gardening and welcoming a new puppy into the family

ABOVE: Six months joining us and she's fitting in perfectly.

PEOPLE who love dogs often love gardens, and often, keeping mental peace while loving the two can be fraught.

Many people have written stories about the perils of dogs and plants, with the Doctor Seuss book “The Diggingest Dog” probably read more by adults than kids.

Banjo Paterson wrote a poem called “A dog’s mistake” about a stray dog offered a home. The lines that resonate are:

’Twas the means of his undoing, for my wife, who’d stood his friend, To adopt a slang expression, “went in off the deepest end,

“For among the pinks and pansies, the gloxinias and the gorse, He had made an excavation like a graveyard for a horse.”

The ungrateful dog was shown the gate.

Pam Ayres also struck trouble, in the verse, “My Puppy”.

“We laboured at the gardening, Me and my little pup

At two I planted flowers, And at three he dug them up”

The puppy was given to her dad.

Enter a magic Scottish Terrier, now just six months old, and an already adored member of the Cleland family.

Black with bright, beady eyes, a big toothy smile, bushy eyebrows, a constantly wagging tail and a way of galloping off in all directions that never fails to bring a smile to my face.

The three months since she arrived has been a pleasure. However, she likes gardening.

She carries sticks and pulls out weeds, (and flowers) peers into punnets and trims anything she feels is too long.

To see me pick up a shovel or a hose will bring her flat out galloping to my rescue.

She seems to feel I can’t manage without her assistance.

Hoses are grabbed and pulled, streams of water are bitten, shovels shouted at, piles of autumn leaves dived head first into. She reappears with a huge grin on her face, covered in oak leaves.

She, quite literally, has a taste for roses.

I bought a magnificent specimen to plant near the back door. The one flower it had was the biggest, reddest most perfect bloom. And it may well be the last it ever has, as she took it on herself to prune it, right down to the base.

I was furious, upset and tearful and put rocks around it, thinking that might save it but no, she climbed the rocks and did it again.

Now it's encased in a chicken wire fence, rocks around it, and it IS growing, but she sits outside the wire fence with a speculative look on her face, like a prisoner of war, planning a tunnel out of the stalag.

Digging a hole to plant something is difficult, as she has to peer down it to make sure that no dragon, dinosaur or snake could be hiding, and if I turn my back for a moment to pick up the plant I was going to put in the hole, I find she’s filled it back in and is sitting there with a satisfied look on her face and a leathery nose and beard covered in dirt.

I thought I might lock her in the dog pen while I dug some important holes and keep her safe, but the shrieks and wails and howls were so heart rending I let her out and soldiered on.

It seems I will just have to let her keep helping, because, unlike Banjo Paterson’s rescue dog, and Pam Ayres’ puppy, this little gardener is going nowhere.

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