I’m a man of science as can be proven by my bachelor of arts degree. In journalism.
In my very carefully controlled experiments with garden critter control, I’ve observed three things.
- Fences keep big things from getting into your garden.
- Cats, like husbands who sometimes do a load of laundry, occasionally catch a vole and expect you to throw them a parade.
- Dogs keep every animal out of your yard. Always.
We’re surrounded by forest here in our spot in Connecticut and there are animals here in every crevice, around every pond, in every tree and under every rock. I hear them at night. Fisher cats screaming like lost infants, fox wailing for mates and chasing bouncing lines of rabbits. I see them all day. Deer moving in orderly procession, groundhogs running in constant panic, birds diving, squirrels darting, chipmunks dashing.
Oddly they stay away from our yard as if there is a solid, invisible dome keeping them within their own territory. Districts of little mammals peering in, longing for the green bounty in the garden. Plotting. Waiting.
What keeps them there? Why are there almost no sorties into my stronghold?
I think it’s the threat of dog, the scent of dog. The fog of dog, pushed outward, meticulously paced around our boundaries, molecules of patient, steadfast guard.
Benny was our border collie for 10 years and he died last October. I’d reach for my seeds or my tools and he’d know what was ahead, padding straight to the garden gate. He’d lope a circuit around the fence, nose to the ground herding nothing in, but leaving a bit of himself to push things away on a scented time release. This was his job and I don’t think I ever took for granted how good he was at it. Or how much I liked him being there. He was a better farmer than me, but he let me feel like I was in charge.
Benny got sick and could barely move, but on his last day he still did his job. All of his jobs. At 3:30 in the afternoon some alarm in his brilliant, sweet head went off and he pulled himself painfully up the driveway to greet the bus and our nine year old. On that, his last real trek through our yard, he left so much of himself that it’s still there, still letting those peering animals know that this house, this yard and these people are under his watch.
How long do those molecules last? The fog of dog dissipates from the world I’m certain, but not from me. I’ll do my best to chase the rabbits!
Benny’s Last Trek To The Bus
Benny Stalking Me
Benny On Guard