No.74, 2010 A Vegetarian Dog? by James P. Hammell
Let me preface
with the fact that I
am not a gardener,
but my wife on the
other hand tries very hard to be one.
We live in British Columbia, Surrey to
be exact, a suburb of Vancouver. The
climate here is very pleasant if you are
a slug, a snail or a duck. My wife saw
fit to introduce a couple of ducks to
the snails and slugs in an effort to
reduce the number of slugs, having
heard that ducks like to eat slugs. It is
damp here in the fall, it is wet in the
winter, it is wet in the spring and quite
often it is damp in the summer as well.
Now don’t misunderstand me; it
doesn’t rain constantly. Quite often we
will experience a hot summer and or a
The pair of ducks, I don’t know what
type they were, they all look the same
to me, were hired to protect my wife’s
beloved strawberry patch.
Unfortunately she forgot or did not
know that ducks love berries. One
Sunday morning she came into the
bedroom in tears and woke me up. I
am not a farmer, I like to sleep-in on
my days off.
She had a handful of strawberries;
every one of them had a rather large
divot in it. That’s the telltale sign of a
She was sobbing as I tried to console
her. “I’m guessing that Fred and
Ferdinand are not working out,” I
commented in a concerned tone.
Yes, she had named the ducks Fred
“N...n.... not only are th...they n..n...ot
eating the s..slugs, th..they ate most of
th..the b..berries themselves.” She
sobbed uncontrollably. Apparently the
ducks not only didn’t eat the slugs but
they teamed up with them to desiccate
the strawberry patch.
So I got my old job back. I was soon
salting and scooping up the slugs with
a garden trowel and depositing them
in the burn barrel. Oh crap, now I’m
going to be hearing from the animal
rights group, SAPT, which stands for
Slugs are people too.
I was dreaming of having glazed duck
for dinner, thinking that strawberry
fed ducks would definitely be tastier
than the slug fed kind, but eventually
my wife found a new home for Fred
We also have a small yappy mongrel,
a skinny little thing, black and white
with fairly long skinny legs. We
named her Dobie so that we could
humorously put a sign on our 6-foot
tall gate: BEWARE OF DOBIE.
This dog was amazing. Even though
she stood barely a foot high she could
jump that 6-foot gate from a standing
We also have a garden gnome,
Gerome, who also failed to protect the
crop of berries.
My wife grew a few vegetables. Those
climbing scarlet runner beans with a
multitude of multicolored petite
flowers were her pride and joy. She
spent hour upon hour training them to
climb up the trellises that I had rather
craftily built for her. With her little
whip and chair, she had them looking
beautiful and healthy. The beans
started to flourish; she was so happy.
But then things started to change. For
no apparent reason the leaves started
to wilt and the beans shriveled.
Again she was sobbing. “I d...don’t
unders..stand; th..they l..looked so so
beautiful a c..couple of d..days ago.”
“Are you sure they are getting enough
water?” I asked her.
“It’s been raining every day for two
weeks. What do you think?”
I was amazed at how quickly she
could go from a sobbing stuttering
wreck to a totally controlled angry
woman as she glared at me through
teary eyes. It probably had something
to do with her pregnancy. This was my
first time dealing with the mood
swings of a pregnant woman and I had
a lot to learn.
I couldn’t help but put my foot in it a
little more. “Maybe they’re getting
too much water.”
“What do you suggest; that I give
Gerome the gnome an umbrella to
hold over them?” she retorted.
I almost answered her with a “Don’t
be silly, he’s way too short.” Instead,
fearing for my manhood, I closely
inspected the dying delectable
“What the blazes. Look at the stems of
the plants. They are totally severed,” I
Dobey, who had been standing beside
us, tried to unobtrusively sneak off
with her head hanging down and her
tail between her legs, a definite sign of
guilt. Apparently, and I don’t have a
clue as to why, she had chewed off the
life support of every plant on the
I’ll tell you, that was one the hardest
things that I ever had to do, to turn
away without laughing my head off.
“At least you have your cucumber,” I
She half smiled through her tears, as
she eyed the large healthy looking
cucumber in the garden next to the
house. One lonely but very large
cucumber laid there, under the
protective gaze of Gerome the gnome.
I would have written in the shadow of,
but as you are aware, we haven’t seen
the sun for quite awhile.
“Don’t you think it’s ready for
harvest?” I asked her.
“One more day, we should give it one
more day,” she said, as she stared at
that last vegetable, the only edible
thing left in her beloved garden.
I know, I should have insisted on
picking it then and there. After all
what good was one more night going
to do. Only bad could come of this.
Dobie didn’t take long to get over her
guilt. Sometime before I brought her
in for the night, she chowed down on
that defenseless tubular gourd. I swear
that dog should’ve been a vegetarian.
This time I could not contain my
laughter and both Dobie and I are still
in the doghouse.
Poor, useless Gerome was headed for
the trash-can as well. Apparently
failure to protect the garden was a
The strawberry garden has been
replaced by an in-ground swimming
pool. Where the beans once
flourished, if only for a short period of
time, I put in a walkway with paving
stones. She still grows cucumbers, but
they are protected by a mesh fence
now. I had to talk her out of
Dobey, the almost vegetarian, is under
a close watch.