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(Not So) Common Sense | My dogs hate me

Well, maybe the word “hate" is a little strong. They're too sweet to hate anyone. But they're mad at me, of that I am sure. You see, this past weekend in Atlanta was beautiful and sunny, perfect for those with spring fever to work outside getting the yard ready for outdoor living as only we in the South know how to do it. 

Carole Townsend

We have a beautiful front lawn, thanks to my talented husband. It is well manicured and, when temperatures permit, overflowing with dazzlingly colorful flowers. We have a shimmering blue pool in the back, and that’s about it, because our dogs pretty much rule that domain. We are allowed to swim (because of an Irish Setter, a Goldendoodle and a Chihuahua, no one likes the water), but they have the run of the place. Flowers and grass simply cannot survive their 85+ lb. antics – wrestling, racing, digging, etc.

Several years ago, I got into vegetable gardening. I love growing vegetables and herbs at home, and working the earth somehow makes me feel closer to my dad. I lost him in 2013; he loved to garden, and he was good at it. I think I developed my love of gardening from him. Anyway, my husband built me two raised beds, 10 x 10 each. Every spring, at about this time, I clear the old growth and amend the soil with foul-smelling but nutritious additives – chicken manure and such. This year, for some odd reason, all three of our dogs have decided that they enjoy the taste of that rich, black dirt.
Desperate times call for desperate measures.

We just installed an invisible pet fence. In fact, we finished the installation yesterday, and it went “live” yesterday afternoon. We put the collars on our dogs, and so the training began. It’s been a battle of wills, so far. I will say that I’ve gotten zapped twice, and I don’t eat dirt OR manure. 

Oh well, everything I read and everyone I talk to says to stick with the training, that they will get the hang of it. Cassie, our Irish Setter, is still a bit nervous about the whole thing. She sticks close to us but is venturing out more every time she goes outside. Raleigh, our Goldendoodle, knows exactly where the boundaries are; she is disarmingly smart, and I have to wonder what she thinks about all this silliness. This morning I caught her eating potting soil straight out of the bag anyway; she’s already outsmarted us. The Chihuahua couldn’t care less about white warning flags or her bulky new collar. She goes where she pleases, and we just have to watch her closely to protect her from the consequences. That won’t change.

I had to laugh last night, after another full day of watchful vigilance. This boundary-training is a lot more work for me than it is for them, and all so I can grow maybe $50 worth of veggies. I get the feeling that Dad is watching all of it, laughing his unmistakable laugh and critiquing my gardening skills while he does it.
Wish I could remember his tricks for growing prize-winning tomatoes.

Carole Townsend is a Gwinnett author and freelance writer. Her fourth book, BLOOD IN THE SOIL, was published in 2016. It is the true tale of a crime that took place in Gwinnett County nearly 40 years ago. Her previous three books are written with Southern humor. Carole often appears on network television talk and news shows, as well as on national true crime radio shows. Her books can be found in bookstores, on, Barnes &, and at www.caroletownsend. com. When she’s not writing, Carole travels throughout the southeast, talking to groups about women, writing, family, and life in her beloved South.