Every garden needs a dog (or two)

Here are Ziggy (left) and Ruby (right).

Ruby entered the garden three and a half years ago as a wriggly little sausage.

Ruby lived up to all expectations. She learnt to ‘sit’ and ‘stay’, though not to lie down on command.  Lying down seems beyond the intellectual capacity of a cavvie.  But she can fetch and catch a ball, and she is an excellent dribbler at football.  She is an uncomplicated, lovely little dog.

We flirted with the idea of breeding from Ruby and keeping one of the puppies. I took this very seriously and bought a copy of the dog breeder’s bible, Book of the Bitch (yes, really).  I read it aloud at the kitchen table one Saturday morning.  My voice began to falter as I read about miscarriage, birth defects and the possible need to dispatch a puppy born without eyes.  When I read that sometimes a bitch licks her puppies so much she licks off their tail or a limb, I put down the book.  Ruby is a licker.  Dog breeding is not for us.

Within the hour we were on the M25 bound for Essex to pick up Ziggy.

Ziggy is the best impulse-buy ever. Yes, Stevie did query whether he was walking quite right.  And he did (and still does) have a wonky eye.  And he does bump into things and fall off things quite a lot.  And he does make slightly deranged noises like an enraged cat.  And he did spend most of his first year hanging off Ruby’s ear making these noises.  And if you move him whilst he is asleep he makes a sort of leaking bagpipe, sly fart sound.  And he seems incapable of lying in conventional dog sleeping positions.  Ruby adopts the classic ‘puppy-pie’ (nose tucked up inside tail), the ‘flea’ (legs extended and touching) and the ‘sulk’ (chin on front paws, brow furrowed).  Ziggy just seems to spill to occupy the available space.  He is Liquid Dog.  He rolls slowly off the edge of the sofa and continues his slumber uninterrupted.  Or he will roll onto his back, four limbs extended at different angles in the air.  And he will proceed to snore loudly in this position.  Bagpipes.

But he is also capable of great elegance. He is light-of-foot and can leap like a gazelle.  He trots like a prancing pony, stopping with one foot delicately raised, tail plumage and ears held aloft, pointing.  Stephen and I joke that when he dies we will get him stuffed in this position so that we can continue to enjoy his regal silhouette.  I am only joking.  That would be barbaric.  We also joke that he might be skinned and made into a fur stole because his pelt is the softest, downiest bunny fluff you can imagine.  A fur stole would not have the delight of the wet nose and bad breath though. Ziggy comes as a whole package.  You have to take the rough with the smooth.

Ziggy is the perfect garden dog.  In cold or wet, Ruby would rather be a puppy-pie in her basket.  Not Ziggy.  He is up for anything, rain or shine.  When I’m crouching to weed the flowerbeds, I will suddenly feel a little butterfly kiss on my ear, and there is Ziggy.  There is generally sniff, sniff, sniff, a tentative lick, followed by a sneeze.

Ziggy has a repertoire of expressive sounds.  Ruby has an authoritative bark, which she employs for cats, squirrels and alpacas.  Ziggy has a special bark, which we call his ‘boffle’.  This is when he’s a bit embarrassed because his barking has been utterly ineffective and he realises he’s made a bit of a fool of himself.  It is a sort of barking cough, with wobbly jowls.  He looks away, as if it wasn’t him.  There is an even less confident ‘wiffle’.  This is almost soundless.  Try it.  Say ‘wof’ with floppy cheeks and lips, at a whisper.  That’s a wiffle.

Ziggy loves a squirrel.  Here he is tracking one:

That’s him being half-dog, half squirrel.  I love his ‘can-do’ attitude.

Dogs add the element of surprise to the garden.  When they dig in your mulch.  Even When they run off with your gloves.  We get endless joy from the Ziggy bagpipes and the Ruby pie.

Do you have a garden dog?  I would love to hear about how they add to your experience of the outdoors.  Or maybe you have crossed to the dark side and have a cat?  Or an alpaca?

19 Comments Add yours

  1. Wiki says:

    Hello ,

    I saw your tweet about animals and thought I will check your website. I like it!

    I love pets. I have two beautiful thai cats called Tammy(female) and Yommo(male). Yommo is 1 year older than Tommy. He acts like a bigger brother for her. 🙂
    I have even created an Instagram account for them ( https://www.instagram.com/tayo_home/ ) and probably soon they will have more followers than me (kinda funny).

    I have subscribed to your newsletter. 🙂

    Keep up the good work on your blog.


  2. shazza says:

    They sound great characters! We only have a back yard so not great at the gardening. When it gets warmer and we hang out there, our labrador Hugo and black cat Slinky insist on keeping us company.

    1. Ali says:

      Apologies if I am repeating myself here, Shazam, I thought I had replied but can’t find it now. I love the names Hugo and Slinky. Perfect for a labrador and black cat. Do you know the book ‘Slinky Malinky’?

      1. shazza says:

        Hi yes and thank you. Slinky is indeed short for Slinky Malinki. It was her name when we got her…and I didn’t want to change it. I have bought a Christmas Slinky Malinki story now. X

  3. Dark side I’m afraid. Ours is a cat garden, always has been, always will be. Those look like nice dogs though.

    1. Ali says:

      All fur babies are fab. I did once cohabit with a cat and she was delicious.

  4. Ali says:

    Not in the eating sense! In the visual and tactile and generally enjoying something sense!

  5. I really like this post, It’s a very useful details,keep up and thanks to writer for sharing….


  6. Ziggy and Ruby are darling! I’m so glad you came to my site, so that I could find yours! I must tell you that I’m an unapologetic Anglophile. I love your country! And, I love your blog, too.

    1. Ali says:

      Thank you! I had not expected to connect with so many people around the world, and it is lovely. 💞

  7. bcparkison says:

    Oh I have a lot to say but will have to come back.

    1. Ali says:

      I look forward to it! 😀

  8. Your pictures are so delightful. I am so excited to know about your blog, Ali!

    1. Ali says:

      That’s a lovely thing to say, thank you so much. Xxx

  9. Rekha Sahay says:

    I love pets too. 😊😊

  10. FlowerAlley says:

    I have two rather large garden bunnies, Charlotte and Barley. They star in some of my blog posts.

    1. Ali says:

      That’s brilliant!

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