Ol' Pesky Paws


August 15, 1993|By MIKE KLINGAMAN

The dog days of summer are here. I know this because our dog Katydid, is lying on her back in the lawn chair, paws in the air, sunning herself and snoring loudly.

Katydid is happy. I am not. I don't mind her snoozing in my favorite chair. It's not her sleeping habits that are annoying, it's what she does when she's awake.

Katydid digs holes in the yard and rolls in the garden. She uproots plants and consumes my crops. She chases the honeybees that pollinate my flowers. She stalks the birds that eat bad bugs.

Then, exhausted, Katydid collapses in the lawn chair. I dare not awaken her.

Better to let this sleeping dog lie. She is less destructive that way.

I marvel at Katydid's enormous energy. Would that it served a useful purpose. When we got her six years ago, I'd hoped the dog and I would approach middle age together, but Katydid still acts very much the puppy. She has never grown up.

I wanted a mature Labrador retriever. Instead, I got Peter Pan with paws.

There are times when Katydid seems destined for Never Never Land. Like yesterday, when she dug up a fresh bed of vinca. My wife spent two days planting that garden. It took Katydid two minutes to destroy it.

(At times like this, when she is bad, Katydid becomes "my" dog. "Look what your dog did to my garden," Meg says, even though she is the one who picked her out at the animal shelter.)

Katydid slunk off in disgrace toward the vegetable patch, where I was weeding carrots. She sauntered over, wagged her tail and licked my face.

"Forget it," I said. "You're not getting any carrots."

Katydid loves carrots. Also peas, beans and asparagus and cherry tomatoes. She likes to sit beside me in the garden, watching with soulful brown eyes and patiently awaiting a handout. Sometimes I'll throw her a badly forked carrot or an imperfect green bean, which she nabs in midair and woofs down in two bites. Flavored flying disks, I call them.

More recently, however, Katydid has begun harvesting veggies herself. I've caught her removing peas and beans from plants with her front teeth.

I admire the dog's ingenuity. But yesterday she went too far. When my back was turned, Katydid decided to attack the carrots, pawing the ground like a berserk Rototiller and uprooting a 6-foot row.

Meg observed this from the flower bed, while replanting the vinca.

I turned in horror to find tiny carrots strewn everywhere. The ground was covered with what appeared to be orange cigars, but they were disappearing as quickly as Katydid could devour them. Half my crop was gone or ruined. I toyed with the idea of repairing the damage. Alas, unlike flowers, carrots can't be replanted.

However, I was prepared to plant the dog 6 feet under.

"Out!" I shouted, chasing her from the garden. "Out, out, out!"

Katydid skedaddled toward the house with a cigar dangling from her mouth.

I'm told she then chased a robin, ate a bee, and stopped to rest under the apple tree. But only for a second. Katydid reached up, plucked a piece of fruit from a drooping branch and began playing ball.

She has done this before. The dog takes the apple in her mouth, tosses it high in the air and chases it around the yard, over and over. Of course, she never uses the same piece of fruit two days straight, which means there are dozens of little green apples on the ground, but very few on the lower branches of the tree.

Of course, this makes the tree look cockeyed, like a Christmas tree for which we ran out of ornaments halfway down.

It seems everything Katydid does outside is wrong. Her lone contribution to the garden is fur. After brushing the dog, I use her hair to line the perimeter of the garden. Dog fur is supposed to deter hungry rabbits.

I wonder if rabbit fur would keep out the dog?

Katydid is resting now. Excuse me while I turn her over. She has been sleeping in the same position for more than an hour, and I fear she'll get sunburned.

Frankly, I wish the dog would wake up. There is only one lawn chair, and I'm tired of lying on the grass.

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