Growing suspicion

When you have a puppy, you expect that quite often ordinary objects will end up in extraordinary places.

You also expect that those ordinary objects will often become transformed into multiple, smaller objects with teeth marks.

You hope that it's only very occasionally that one of those smaller objects disappears completely, hopefully reappearing on the lawn some time later in a smelly pile of dog's business.

When your puppy grows up, you believe you're beyond all that - until the next puppy.

Now that both the dog and the she-wolf are grown up dogs of six and five respectively, for the most part they're quite sensible - although their secret inner puppies show themselves at times. Most often this is in the form of a puppyish dance of triumph during games of fetch if I break the rules in the "How to train a good dog" book and chase them while they have a tennis ball in their mouth.

Believing I had two sensible dogs, I was a little bit befuddled when I let them out of their run early the other morning and saw a garden hose in there. It took me a few seconds, in which my subconscious mistakenly gave the dogs the benefit of the doubt, to realise that actually, I hadn't had put the hose in the dog run.

The dogs, by this time, were at the far end of the lawn, taking care of what they assured me was Very Important Dog Business.

Regardless of what is said about dogs not remembering past deeds, usually if you question our dogs about a new excavation that's occurred in their run, the innocent dog will look at you blankly, while the one responsible will do a very literal version of throwing themselves at your mercy by launching themselves at you with a flurry of licks. I've never quite figured out if it's meant as an apology or a plea not to undo all their hard work by filling in the hole.

This time, when I called them back to the run, both dogs looked at me with the canine equivalent of faked nonchalance and offered suggestions that perhaps some other dog had broken into their run and committed the vandalism.

The hose had been yanked off a tap just outside the dog run gate, then pulled into through the gate, popping another connection a few metres away. I wasn't as concerned about the several short, chewed lengths of hose I could see as I was about the fact that one hose connection seemed to have disappeared completely. I found myself hoping if it had disappeared into a dog's stomach they'd had the sense to first break it down into small enough pieces that it could reappear without the assistance of a vet.

Initially I'd been impressed someone had dexterous enough paws to reach through a hole in the gate's chain link netting and get hold of the hose, but the dog soon disabused me of any notion that either of them had developed opposable thumbs overnight. When I went to shut them in their run later that morning, he pointed out that the hole was now big enough for him to get his head through, if he wriggled a bit, which he then proudly demonstrated. This put his snout within reach of the tap fitting.

To avoid any possibility of returning home to find a not-so-clever dog with his head stuck in the gate, I did a quick emergency repair to hold it until the other half got home.

While no-one ever confessed, the other half said there was a distinct lack of canine assistance when he repaired the gate - unusual for dogs who like to be involved with everything. Even more unusual, when I reconnected the hose and turned it on, both dogs watched me carefully from a distance, suddenly very busy with important activities like lying down in the shade. No one sprinted up to me, loudly demanding a game of hose, or suggesting that I'd be better employed watering dogs than strawberries.

And to my relief, the next day the missing hose connection showed up - it hadn't been eaten at all, just scuffled under a clump of grass.


A few of the plants garden guides recommend are: beetroot, carrots, leeks, spinach, radish, lettuces, coriander, chives, beans, cucumbers and bok choi.

It's also time to start thinking cool weather crops. Leek, swede, turnip and parsnip seeds can be planted now.

Grow brassica seeds in punnets to plant out in autumn.

I sowed courgette seeds in a punnet last week – they'll be big enough to plant out just as my current courgettes are past their best, which will extend my crop into autumn.

The Marlborough Express