This week the “Stare of the Dog” looked longingly through the fence at the forbidden garden beyond. A hastily erected wooden affair standing three feet tall, the fence in question is all that stands between my green fingered graft and its total annihilation. Dudley, like many woofers, has a damage rating just south of napalm whenever he gets remotely close to anything organic. There have been plenty of occasions where the fence has been breached over the last year, some intentional, others accidental. Here’s my top five moments of horticultural savagery.
In at number five would need to be the hose pipe incident – or incidents general as there are many. Obsessed with the contraption as he is, Dudley seizes on every possible chance to unravel it, attack it or enter into unofficiated bouts of tug of war with me on the other end. His favourite trick is tying it in knots and kinking it so as to stop the flow of water when I am furthest from the tap. When I am around, the brute can usually be beaten back with a short blast on the highest jet setting though the neighbours must think we’re a police unit practicing riot drills. When I am not around, the gun end of the tube has wound up in more places than Michael Palin, though it is never difficult to know who is to blame for these movements.
At number four I’d want to include the unedifying sight of the hound mining in the flower beds for buried treasure in the form of cat turd. Whilst admittedly doing me some kind of favour in offering so eagerly to get rid of the wretched stuff he is unfamiliar with the concept of collateral damage. I wish I could say the same about the fiver’s worth of bedding plants that stood bravely in his way until being uprooted by his churning feet.
Lying mid table at number three has to be his efforts earlier this summer to help out in the preparing of tea. Imagine if you will my surprise to see him playfully trotting in to the kitchen like a vegetarian gun dog, a whole chilli plant hanging limply from his mouth where a duck should have been. One saving grace Labradors do of course have is a soft bite and on this occasion, the unmolested chilli was carefully replanted amidst crestfallen looks from Dudley who presumably couldn’t believe the callous way I had spurned his kind gift.
Down low at number two I give you ‘ammonia-gate.’ Admittedly less damaging than its cousin Ammonia Nitrate, he’s taken to peeing over the strawberry plants this year and allowing the dregs of this amber nectar to stray onto the grass as well. Generous though it may seem, this ‘buy one get one free’ approach to garden irrigation leaves me with nothing but patches of dead grass and strawberries I’d only serve to those irksome celebrities you see every year at Wimbledon hiding their lack of interest in tennis behind £1000 shades.
The treasured reward of coming first goes to the curious case of the dog and the broom. Dudley, since puppyhood has always been playfully obsessed with brooms so much so that I don’t attempt to use such a device now unless he’s indoors. Appropriately, this incident took place the day I was busy erecting the fence that would banish the oaf once and for all from the garden. Anyone who’s ever undergone construction projects – no matter how small – with a playful dog nearby will readily understand the problems faced. Tools are spirited away from the site with ninja like precision, bags of nails and screws become scattered about the place and off cuts of wood vanish like spirits. In fact, when not busy stealing he tends to sit staring at you unnervingly like an Ofsted inspector or a driving test examiner.
Browbeaten and weary as I was on this occasion after a relentless defence of my tools I foolishly let him have the broom. Old and warn, I figured it’d be a safe trade off for a moment’s peace. What I had neglected to notice a short while later – though my wife was cheerily filming from a bedroom window – was Dudley spinning around in circles like a hadron collider, broom in mouth as he went. With the remains of the handle extending four foot beyond his reach the result was instant decapitation for anything coming close, myself included. Solar lights scattered, plants cut down in their youth and bushes stripped of foliage in an instant by the rotating menace I saw before me.
Turning my back I shrugged, fixed the last pieces of the fence and checked the gate worked. Dudley’s gardening days would soon be over.