It’s Charlie’s yard, I just work in it

I was wishing my mom a Happy Mothers Day over the phone when she asked what we’re doing. Most of the kids are here, I explained. They’re all in the backyard setting up a little kiddie pool for 1-year-old grandson Jack.
“Charlie will enjoy that I bet,” she replied.
“I assure you it won’t be long,” I agreed.
It was too close to nap time so Jack was not in a swimming mood and was brought inside. I ventured out to finish picking up in the yard when I heard the splash. Charlie was wading around the little, blue pool checking it out.

Joel McNeece

Charlie gets in enough trouble around our house, so I just thought, “What the heck?” I pulled up a lawn chair, kicked off my flip flops and dropped my feet in as well. Charlie sat down in the cool water, looked at me with tongue hanging out with a look saying, “this is nice.”

It was nice, for about 60 seconds, then one of the neighbor dogs barked and Charlie leaped from the pool, up into my freshly mulched flower bed, slinging hardwood chips in all directions as he raced down the fence line to see what might be happening next door.
He’s known as #PoorCharlie (a nickname born from our late Yellow Lab Jack’s disdain for the new puppy in the house) on my wife Lisa’s instagram account. She shares lots of pictures there, many of Charlie not being so well behaved and others where he is, mostly when he’s with the grandkids who he adores.
If only he adored my backyard as much as he loves those kids.
We love hanging out in our backyard. We have a beautiful patio and try hard to keep it nicely landscaped with lots of colorful blooms and plants we personally find pleasing.
Granddaughter Ellie Kathryn loves Gerbera daisies and has planted a couple of pots, but as soon as the blooms get of good size, Charlie eats them. We finally gave up and moved her daisies to the front patio out of Charlie’s reach.

Lisa puts together beautiful arrangements in our larger pots around the patio, but again, Charlie likes to pull the center plants from the pots and then just leave them lying on the patio. I assume he wants you to plant them again so he can keep playing the removal game. We do and he does.
Charlie, and step-daughter Jo Ellen’s dog Sir, who spends much of his time at our house, like to find spots in the main flower beds and dig big holes to lie in. I’ve started placing big rocks in those spots in hopes of stopping the digging, or at least moving it to a less obvious place.
I love large fountain grasses and have planted a few, but again the dogs love to eat those. I bought a beautiful large purple grass from Pomegranate Nursery recently that was already nearly four feet tall. It now looks like a deformed porcupine after being gnawed down by the dogs.

I’ve tried every dog spray, powder and vinegar concoction available to keep dogs away from plants. Charlie seems to get a good laugh out of all of them.
Drift roses are a plant that does extremely well at our house and provides lots of constant color. I hate to plant so many thorny shrubs around the house when we have a 1-year-old who loves exploring all corners of the yard, but Charlie has left me with little choice. I surrounded my grasses with them in hopes of keeping Charlie away. Unfortunately the new plants need a year to grow to a size that Charlie can’t easily straddle to get his chew on, as we saw him doing Sunday afternoon.
He also managed to slip out the front door at one point Sunday and get in a little neighborhood run. It’s gotten that his last stop is usually at my mother-in-law’s house across the street where if he discovers the gate to the pool is open he loves to go dive in and get in a few laps before coming home.

I’d love to have more sod in the backyard but that interferes with Charlie and Sir’s race track to the 125-year-old oak tree that dominates our backyard and houses hundreds of birds and squirrels they love to chase.
Half of my fig tree seems to be dead this year, somehow I suspect Charlie had something to do with it. Attempting tomatoes or other vegetables in the tiny sunny corner in the backyard seem pointless because of that yellow dog.
Pretty soon my backyard will be nothing but patios and decks connected by rock pathways surrounded by lots of thorny, blooming bushes protecting the larger fountain grasses and blooming flowers behind them. The only lawn will be relegated to the front yard.
I might consider saving a small spot for a little blue pool, however, so Charlie and I can enjoy another 60 seconds like Sunday.