In Defense of My Summer Garden…Again

Despite a LONG hot summer, the garden fared pretty well – until August, that is. The heat is partly to blame. Deadheading doesn’t help when 100+ degree temperatures shrink new buds into tater-tot size flowers. And it was certainly too hot to plant annuals as we usually do to keep the color going in the garden in between perennial blooms.

But there are eight tiny reason that the garden looks a bit ragged right now. They marched in with yet another heat wave at the end of July: eight adorable Golden Retriever, German Shepherd, and who-know-what-else mix puppies.

Irish – their mama – had been stray in the even hotter Central Valley. A good Samaritan took her in a couple of months prior intending to keep her, not realizing that she was already expecting. Three weeks into the care of eight puppies – they were ready to be done with mama and her litter.

A visit to the vet when they found her might have told them she was going to be a mom. They might have mentioned that her bent left rear leg – the result of an old break – was causing her great pain. They might have vaccinated her not knowing she was expecting. I guess things happen for a reason. The cost of her needed surgery might have led them to put her down or send her to a shelter. Vaccinations might have been deadly to the puppies. She was meant to come to us, but it was probably unsurprising – despite keeping her with the pups in our puppy-safe yard and house – that she contracted kennel cough and had to be separated from them after only four weeks.

Kennel cough can quickly become life-threatening for puppies. But with fast-action, meds and care, they came through it well and quickly.

We took over for feeding for mama – a slurpy mush of pulverized puppy kibble, cottage cheese, and baby food at first. It wasn’t long before the tiny pups were packing on the pounds.

I’m blessed to have flexibility in my schedule, so I signed on as morning Puppy Mama. You’ll remember that that role wreaked havoc with my summer garden last year when 12 Golden puppies arrived at the rescue. Morning Puppy Mama means showing up daily to clean, feed, bathe, and play with these adorable things. A straw happily drawn.

In these very hot days, they are out in their puppy-only yard in the mornings to have a chance to run and tackle before they are put in their air-conditioned shed for the afternoon. In the evening, Puppy Dad or Puppy Grandma free them so they can play in the cool night air. And when I need to take a day off, Puppy Aunt subs in.

Needless to say, it leaves little time for gardening.

But the garden will wait – and the bees and butterflies don’t seem to mind the weed mess below.

I will plant fresh fall flowers later when the scalding ends and something approaching fall begins – and all the puppies are home beginning their new, happy lives. Four down; four to go.

Mama Irish, meanwhile, has had surgery to eliminate her pain. The recovery will be lengthy, but her future is much brighter. She was a wonderful mom, taking such good care of her kids despite her own suffering. We will find her the perfect home and a happy life, as well. She certainly has earned it.