This June has been hot and dry; so dry that the water in my fish pond evaporates noticeably on a daily basis. I’ve had to top it multiple times this month which is something usually not needed until late summer or early fall. Another result of this heat is rapid, lush growth of pond plants. The fish seem to love this bonus – extra places to hide from the sun, the heron, and an occasional raccoon. This lush growth makes more work for me, however, in that the filters need to be cleaned frequently. The water I use in cleaning is then given to plants in the garden. And any gardener knows that the result of fish water on plant growth is phenomenal!
Anyway, as I was cleaning out the filter recently, I was reminded of a hot, dusty day last August and an encounter I had with my neighbor’s little dog. The tiny, high-strung creature had wandered into my yard while I was working. I had not seen him but I heard a rustling sound near the pond and assumed that The Squirrel had returned to bury peanuts in the moss bed I was struggling to create. I was working with my back to the pond, and was on my knees and mostly hidden under a large Leycesteria, so the nervous little guy didn’t see me. I backed out from under the plant quickly, turned around and stood up fast with the intent of scaring off the damn squirrel. But it wasn’t The Squirrel. I was stunned by the sight of my neighbor’s tense, shaky little Pomeranian. Stunned because he wearing a pastel pink jacket (in summer!) and sported a large pink bow on his head. The bow was so large the dog’s ears were pushed slightly askew and stood straight out from his head. He looked like a deranged Easter bunny. We stared at each other for a short moment and then he decided to bark – at me – in my own yard. If you are familiar with small dogs such as this, you are aware that once they start barking (in a high-pitched squeaky voice that sounds like a toy being jumped on repeatedly by a kid with nothing better to do but drive you crazy) they don’t let up. And he didn’t. More barking, louder barking, ensued. I wanted to calm him a bit so I talked to him, and walked towards him. This agitated him even more and he began to hop up and down as he barked. But his hopping took him close to the edge of the pond, and this made me as nervous as he was. In a slightly louder voice, I said “Stop!” He didn’t. So I knelt down, extended my hand, and said in as soothing a voice as I could muster, “You’re ok little guy. Calm down.” Any other dog would have calmed down or come to me, or maybe even run back home, but not my neighbor’s dog. My attempt at kindness, compassion, and friendliness was apparently so threatening that he barked himself right into the pond.
Between the poor pup’s thick fur, his jacket, the many plants stuck to him, and the splashing fountain, getting him out of the pond was a chore. And it didn’t help that his legs were moving faster than an electric beater on high speed. After three disastrous attempts to pull him out, I resorted to using the large fish net to scoop him out of the water. But this frightened him even more because he couldn’t figure out that the huge, black net coming towards him was actually going to save him. Finally, I was able to bring him close enough to me to grab onto his soaked jacket and pull him out of the pond. I held the dripping, frantic little dog in my arms and stood up. His pink bow was askew, his fur was matted with plants, his ears stood straight up and twitched frantically, and he smelled like the wet, fishy, hysterical dog he was. I looked at the poor, shaking creature in my arms and thought, he looks like a hung-over Easter bunny who’s had one hell of a morning. Then, to add insult to injury, he slipped out of my arms and landed with a thud on the terrace. Before I could react, he ran through the hedge and back home.
I haven’t seen my neighbor’s dog since that sad August day last year. This seems to be a pattern in my garden – animals come to visit but seldom return. Only the resilient or demented stay around. But that’s ok, because I have many unfinished projects calling my name and no time to play in the pond.