My wife and I have always been dog people. There’s nothing wrong with cats–we had one, once–but we’re dog people. (Our one cat? My wife was 7 months pregnant and wanted a baby NOW. To this day, she jokes that she didn’t know cats lived that long…our 16-year-old daughter was quite attached when we lost Scruffy.)
We’ve got a dog. Or a dog has us. Something like that.
Maggie, our dog, is a wonderful part of the family, but sometimes she makes us regret a decision we made 15 years ago when we moved into this house. After nearly all of the moving boxes were empty and our first autumn in this house was upon us, we decided it was time to start planting trees and shrubs. For some reason, the previous owners of this house hadn’t planted a single tree; all we had were the obligatory three silver maples in the front yard. We wanted trees.
We knew we wanted some river birches to help with poor drainage in the back yard, we wanted some blueberry bushes so we’d have some, well, blueberries, and we wanted some crepe myrtles for quick-growing shade and their beautiful flowers in the early summer. We planted some shrubs near the foundation of the house, and put in a flowering dogwood in the middle of the front yard. In addition, we satisfied a desire that my wife had maintained since visiting her grandparents’ house as a child: We planted a few pecan trees. A few years later, my own arborous desires were fulfilled with a backyard oak tree that replaced a poor decision in the form of a Cleveland pear tree. A little water, a passing decade, and we had our dream yard.
And Maggie’s own personal nightmare.
Okay, that’s a bit of an exaggeration. Most of the time, in fact, I think she likes it. Why do I sometimes regret it, though?
A + B = C.
A = pecans, B = acorns, and C = squirrels. Not very many, but enough to keep our dog from napping much during the day.
Here’s the routine: Maggie sits by the back window. Maggie sees squirrels. Maggie barks maniacally. I open the back door and clap my hands to give the squirrels a head start. Maggie sprints the 150 feet to the back fence, sometimes hot on the heels of a zig-zagging grey streak. Maggie sniffs the ground indignantly near the back fence. Maggie walks back to the house and scratches on the door to come back in. Maggie sits by the back window. The cycle repeats. Over, and over, and over.
Along with the trees, my wife and I are just a little bit…nuts.