This year I’m changing my name to Lisa Douglas. Does anyone remember her? Green Acres! I know nothing about farming or even gardening, like the misplaced New Yorker moving to the country far, and neither does Gary. And yet this summer we have three gardens.

It started innocently. We got a grant for a rain garden and it meant less to mow and was paid for 50% by a grant from the Rotary and County because it keeps water out of the sewers and out of our drinking water. Cool.
Then someone in our house, gee, who could that be if not me, decided a butterfly garden would also be great. And it will be. Eventually. A friend brought over about sixty Hostas and before we knew it we had three gardens. Or as I like to call them, weed producers. We had all the rain and then we left on vacation and came back to a tropical rain forest without the tropical plants part. Just weed trees. When you are new to living in Zone 4, see, I’m learning, and a novice about native Wisconsin plants, it’s hard to know what’s a weed and what’s a plant for which you paid $7.00 at a specialty nursery. Nine bags on the curb last week.

So this has been the summer of weeds, so many weeds, and learning about Preen and how to make it easier for next year. The cool thing about all these gardens, especially the two with Wisconsin native plants, is that they will eventually take over, so they tell me, and the weeds will have to go play elsewhere. Like the daffodil beds, we are planting next month. Yeah, we are gluttons for punishment.

Weeding in the hot sun and then calculating how much extra my water bill will be next month from all the watering is an interesting task. And then there’s keeping a rambunctious dog out of all these gardens. Just because the rabbit ran in there doesn’t mean you can chase after him and squash my plants!

Taming the weeds all summer reminds me of when we first got Coconut. We were so excited! And then we realized that being cute was not enough. Some behaviors, like doggy kisses and jumping up to greet people, are not good behavior. Kind of like those weeds that have beautiful flowers and are deceptively plant-like. Those are not good for the garden and an untrained dog is not good for your family. Other behaviors that are like weeds are those cute, begging puppy dog eyes during mealtimes. They are hard to resist so it’s usually better to train them from the get-go to not beg.

The obvious behaviors are like the nasty weeds we all know are weeds, particularly the ones that look like rhubarb and invade and strangle plants. Those obvious weeds are like barking, or going potty in the house, or, if you are like me, no sleeping in the bed.

I learned the hard way that I should have prepared better for the gardens so that we did not have to work so hard on the weeds. Some people get a dog not realizing they are not ready, they have not planned on how to train or if they need a trainer or are there certain behaviors unique to their breed mix that might be weeds. Like howling or excessive chewing.
So let’s go back to my garden. It’s growing! Butterflies are coming along with bees. I can already see the natural beauty that is so different from home but it’s starting to look like we made a good decision. And the gardens will only get better and better as they grow and crowd out weeds.

We’ve had Coconut for a while now. October will be two years as hard as that is to believe. We went to Jody at Pawsitive Directions and that was a huge step in taming the weeds of bad behavior. We have worked with Coconut to get rid of the obvious weeds such as potty in the house and no barking. It’s a process for sure. We aren’t done yet, and we take full responsibility for him still jumping to greet people but we’ll break him yet. It’s just that he is so cute and people encourage him!

Our FAQ page has lots of questions and answers and resources to help you with taming the beast out of your new dog like I’m taming my garden. They are both a process but, in their own way, they are both rewarding. A well-behaved dog is a joy to have in your home and to take out in the community. It’s not an overnight success but when it happens, and it will happen with hard work and the right resources, you’ll be proud of yourself and your dog.

One of these days I’ll get a photo of Coconut and the gardens. For now, you can enjoy these.