Earlier today, something black and fast caught my eye from my upstairs window.
It was my Scottish Terrier, Cosmo, hurrying as fast as short legs could carry her. Trotting with purpose, as if on a mission, Cosmo was heading toward her favorite garden spot. I don’t normally keep close tabs on my garden loving dog, but it is spring and I’ve plenty of garden chores to get through without any extras from Ms. Cosmo.
That Scottie of mine digs holes where I don’t want them. She’s severed every one of my drip irrigation lines in the last three months — most were completely ripped out. And in spite of my close watch, Cosmo gnawed quite a few edges off my new back porch steps.
But Cosmo’s specialty is thinning out garden plants. Last year, I caught her eating my Spilanthes, commonly called the Toothache Plant. Another one of her forays left several giant Cosmos and Cleome dead — these showy flowers stand four to five feet tall, but that didn’t deter Ms. Cosmo, who chopped them off at their ankles. Poor little flower victims didn’t know what hit them.
Once Cosmo harvests a plant, she works more like garbage disposal than composter — which would be fine, if her definition of plant debris was the same as mine. I don’t mind Cosmo pruning back last season’s perennial growth — or pulling up the dead annuals by their roots — but Lordy, that girl hasn’t figured out one from the other. And really — I ask — is it necessary to chew holes in my ‘invisible’ fence wire that keeps my poodle garden stampedes in check? If I didn’t know better, I might wonder if Cosmo was in cahoots with the poodles.
Cosmo’s favorite spot in the garden lies behind the garden shed at the back of our small city lot. In the summer, it offers a cool drink of shade, something that comes in handy for a little dog with coal-black fur. In the winter, it offers shelter from the cold north wind, a good place to carry out her terrorist activities, chewing to heart’s and jaw’s content without fear of being disturbed.
While Cosmo is out ‘tending’ the back gardens, I’ve been slaving in the front, giving a hundred head of Lirope or Monkey Grass a nice spring ‘haircut.’ The cold winter dulled their ‘heads’ to an olive-green full of dry split ends. Though some gardeners use lawn mowers and weed trimmers to groom their ‘Monkey Grass,’ I prefer to cut each one by hand with my pruners, to prevent the weed trimmer from injuring the tree bark. I could use Cosmo’s help if she were willing. But when in the front, Cosmo has a tendency to visit with her favorite neighbor — Jessie the cat. If neighborhood gossip is right, Jessie doesn’t like Cosmo’s visits.
Working outside this time of the year does bring plenty of visits with the neighbors. Folks are always walking by our house since we live near to Mesta Park — even the ones I don’t know call out a greeting. Then, my next-door neighbor is always interested in what I’m doing in my garden. After a few minutes of questions, I’m usually left to my task with some final word of encouragement, like — “Looking good.”
I know they’re talking about the garden rather than me, since I never look good when working in the garden. But now Cosmo — that girl always looks good — even when she’s being a very naughty Scottie — which may help explain why I keep her on the gardening payroll.