Monday, May 11, 2009

Garden Helper Hanna

As usual, our weekend gardening aspirations often fall short of what we plan, due to circumstances, but Sunday was a pretty good day nonetheless, especially for Hanna. Though she had to spend a couple of hours in her crate while we took Fernymoss' Mom and Dad out for lunch, she had her Monster Mouth to keep her busy (treats included of course) and she was patiently waiting for us when we got back. Since I wasn't feeling well most of this weekend, and my arthritis was really keeping me down for the most part, I was of very limited use (I did a little clean up and removed some old fencing no longer needed). Fernymoss and Hanna, however, got a lot done in the back garden and back yard ... after Fernymoss got the grass mowed, he and Hanna worked on weeding and breaking up the soil in the back veggie garden, getting it ready to be tilled. We discovered that Hanna finds this a quite entertaining game and does her best to kill those dastardly weeds ... Fernymoss was breaking up the ground, pulling dandelions and other stuff and then tossing it into what was to become a pile headed to the compost ... well, Hanna decided it was her job to jump up, catch them and shake the remaining life out of these nasty weeds! I took quite a few short videos of her in action and we decided that the following one was the best for posting, though some of the others have their hilarious moments as well. This one, however, best demonstrates her basic weed killing routine, so take a look!

Hanna Helps With the Weeding
(Click on image to play)
video
If it looked like she was having fun playing the "weed the garden" game, you can take it on our word that she was having an absolute ball! It was a little challenging getting all her high flying jumps in the frame, but this should give a good idea of what a little jumper she is ... we've noticed lately how "buff" she's been getting since we've had her, just check out those defined thighs ... she was a very muscular and solid dog when we got her, but all the walkies and exercise she's been getting since it's been warmer are really starting to show visible results! We're really pleased, because we want to do our best to keep her from getting overweight, which could have very serious health consequences for such a little frame. We have discussed an ideal weight with Dr. B and we all concluded that as long as she stays at or below 20 pounds, she should be fine (she weighs just under 18 pounds now). As tempting as it is to shower her with treats, we limit them to after dinner snacks and in moderation, and so far our strategy seems to be working out fine....

I call this shot "Garden Sentry"
I'm sure you've noticed that we keep her on a long lead (20 ft) out in the back ... we have a very solid tie out stake in the middle of the yard that gives her a great 360 degree access of all of the parts of the yard where we'd like her to play and run, without being able to get into the veggie, peony or herb beds. Neither of us is a fan of tying dogs out (especially when left alone!), but this is really for her own good ... for now. Until we get the fence repaired (which, thanks to some donated fencing from one of our neighbors who took a section of theirs down, should be soon), we just can't trust her not to escape.

As anyone who has ever had a Terrier (or Terrier Mix) can testify, they are very intense little dogs, especially when young, and they often don't think before charging after a rabbit, squirrel or some other critter, so really, this is for her protection. Fortunately she only goes on the lead when out with us (we do not leave her alone this way) and doesn't seem to mind at all, though she still does get a bit tangled up on occasion. And she respects the boundaries enforced by the lead, so it's working out pretty well so far ... we're looking forward to the day when we can turn her loose and really let her run laps but it may be a while. Since we live at the intersection of an often pretty busy street and we don't know how many "street smarts" she has, it's just better to restrict a little of her off leash time for now until we're sure she won't try to either 1) jump the fence (which she probably could do) or 2) climb out or otherwise sneak away ... so for now, we'll use the lead.

"Testing the Scented Air"
As soon as we get the majority of the garden in, we have several projects planned to improve the back yard, one of which is to get Hanna some agility activities set up, including hoop jumping. We're pretty confident we can let her off the lead to practice, as it will involve (at least at first) treats and close supervision and interaction, and Hanna loves the interaction part when it involves playing! We also plan on modifying a few areas, such as the rock ring around the spruce where we have the birdbath. Nothing of any value will grow under that spruce, and we have tried, unsuccessfully (e.g. miserable failures) to plant strawberries, cyclamens, Lupines and other flowers there and everything either dies or is overrun with weeds.

So I hatched this plan a while back ... we are going to clear all the crap out, put down landscaping cloth and fill in the area with pond rocks (we found some reasonably priced bags of those last weekend and they're quite attractive). That way at least we can keep the weeds down and provide a place to place potted shade loving plants (I have Caladiums ordered and on their way) for the summer months. But again, that's going to have to wait until the major planting is done, since it's a less time sensitive plan. The other ugly area we have is an old metal shed that we inherited with the place ... in a perfectly well financed world, we'd just rip the ugly thing out and put in something better, but with finances the way they are, that's a luxury we just can't afford right now. And we need the storage space for pots, the mower and tiller, which are just impractical to store inside ... So the tactic (again another scheme of mine) this year is to obscure it with green! Along with the recently received Tree Peony, we got a bag of 5 giant Elephant Ear bulbs ... we already planted one in a big pot out in the front boulder bed and the rest of them are going into large pots that we are going to line up along the line of the shed that's seen from the street. Since the Elephant Ears get about 6 ft tall, they should do a good job of covering up the ugliest parts, and along the base of the shed where they will go, we're also going to put down landscaping cloth and pond rocks to prettify it a bit. Of course, when that starts to happen, I'll keep folks posted here.

"Daddy did you call me?"
I took the last three shots while we were taking a break in the lawn chairs, and this last one was the result of me calling Hanna over for a visit ... I just love getting to see her run, and miraculously (thanks to the motion compensation setting on the camera) this one actually captured her pretty clearly in motion (even with a high degree of zoom). As you may have noticed in the previous two shots, Hanna has a great profile in form ... I often marvel that if dog show standards were sometimes applied to mixed breeds, one could come up with some really nice examples of confirmation. I can clearly see the Corgi shoulders, chest and length in Hanna, nicely balanced with the general lines and markings of a Jack Russell Terrier. For us, at least, she is the best of both breeds, all packed into a wonderful little bundle of joy and energy. Add in her incredible curiosity and natural intelligence, and we think we've found the ideal pup to follow in her illustrious predecessors' pawsteps.

Ok, enough proud daddy puppy blathering ... I'll return to the regularly scheduled flower blogging in the next post, I promise! There's a lot going on and more to come as the summer months approach and Hanna will be along for the ride, helping out as she can ... Fernymoss did tell me that she scared up a baby bunny on Friday afternoon, but it got away ... lucky for now, but put on notice to take up residence elsewhere!

27 comments:

FARfetched said...

Sounds like you guys have some good ideas there… I figured she'd be digging out the beds for you though!

The other kind of lead that works well is the overhead… around here, it's the only thing that won't get snagged on something. I'm thinking of going to Tractor Supply and building one that Buster can't break, but he'll just break the collars instead.

Woo-hoo. Monday. Thrillsville. My weekend mostly involved chasing cattle, punctuated by a little yard work.

Roses and Lilacs said...

Love your video. LOL, boy does she hate weeds or what;) I think your idea of an elephant ear screen will work very well. Can't wait to to see it.
Marnie

CONEFLOWER said...

Hanna is getting better and better all the time as she matures. I had noticed her muscularity. I think she must be a mix of Fox Terrier (half soft ears) and Bull Terrier (incredibly muscular). So she ends up with one ear up and one ear half down and that amazing little body. It could also account for the length of her body compared to being short legged. The second picture after the video shows it all so well. Not sure where the short tail comes from though. Could be just one of those "cute" side attractions of her "breed". I agree she's a beauty and it would be neat to see more like her out and about.

Your new garden plans sound super.

CONEFLOWER said...

p.s. Hanna must get her beautiful refined face from the Fox Terrier side.

Iowa Victory Gardener said...

Hey FAR,
I just hope these ideas happen, unlike a lot of my schemes (I'm kind of like Mrs. Fetched that way) that get put off. It will be an investment that won't cost too much (mostly for rock and landscape cloth) and will make the place more attractive.

Actually we have the lead attached to the stake such that it just spins around rather than getting wound up. Hanna's just not figured out yet how to walk w/out a line getting under her front shoulder... she'll learn fast enough. Fernymoss did allow her to dig a bit but we don't want to encourage too much of that because she does have a strong instinct to go to ground. Under that cute exterior lies the heart of a huntress!

Iowa Victory Gardener said...

Hi Marnie,
I thought you'd like this one ... shows her in action, so just imagine her like that in the house too (without the weeds though). Funny thing was that we only wanted 1 Elephant ear but the deal was 5 for $10 so we had to figure out what to do with the other ones! This is the result... Now have to get them in their big pots and watered this week.

Iowa Victory Gardener said...

Hi Coneflower,
No fox or bull terrier here (Pepa was a Fox mix) because she has the short Corgi legs, though she's got the look of a classic smooth JRT. Have you ever seen a Corgi stretch out? They have incredibly long bodies for such short dogs! That's a typical JRT tail too. Whatever she may be, we love her to pieces!

Yeah, I agree with wishing to see more like her out and about, but I'm a firm believer in spay/neuter and most rescue organizations already do that before they adopt out these days. Fernymoss' brother the vet told us once that it's better for the dog too because it easily adds 5-6 years to their life versus dogs who give birth. Another good reason to be responsible!

Dog_geek said...

I'm always glad to see pictures of Hannah! Little B is about 18 pounds now, too, but she has gotten very tall and lanky. I think she's going to turn out like L - all legs!

Shanster said...

How funny she is with her weed killing! Nice to have received some bulbs to cover the areas you don't like. I "thought" I had some free yuccas that someone didn't want but once I got excited, they decided they wanted to keep them in their yard. I'll have to have a much better poker face next time.

boran2 said...

Glad to see that you guys are getting some help with the gardening. Cute, energetic and she works cheaply!

Iowa Victory Gardener said...

Hi Dog Geek,
Glad you enjoy the pics as much we do sharing them! B must be at that really lanky puppy stage now, whereas Hanna has pretty much gotten as big as she's going to get. What she lacks in stature she makes up for with energy, attitude and charm!

Iowa Victory Gardener said...

Hi Shanster,
She sure had fun and is probably looking forward to more weed eradicating this weekend! She's such a fun little pup!

I googled and found that Xeriscaping Nursery I mentioned a while back, it's called High Country Gardens (www.highcountrygardens.com) and they have all sorts of things specifically for xeriscaping. I checked and they even have Yuccas! Too bad your freebies didn't turn out, but at least this should give you a resource to get started!

Iowa Victory Gardener said...

Hey B2,
Yep, she's helping and entertaining at the same time ... even people going by watching her were chuckling at her antics. She's pretty cheap labor, that's true, but demanding on the walkies and treats (which we don't mind)!

CONEFLOWER said...

I couldn't agree with you more about the spay/neuter thing and being responsible. She's a one of a kind and we all can love her to pieces thanks to your posts. :-)

Iowa Victory Gardener said...

Hi again Coneflower,
Glad you didn't think I went all Betty White and Bob Barker on you with the spay/neuter spiel!

I'm so happy you're enjoying Hanna right along with us, albeit vicariously.

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