When we go out, we usually leave Sherlock in the backyard.
The backyard is a mess and completely overtaken by weeds. We tried to hire some help last year, but the guy was a disaster. He usually showed up 30-40 minutes late, stoned, and pretended to do some work by hacking away some healthy plants while never dealing with the weeds. When I told him that it wasn't working out, he said, "Yeah, I find you difficult to work with too."
We interviewed another company, but the lady who stopped by said she couldn't deal with dog poop and would fine us if she stepped in any poop. Unfortunately, shit production happens to be Sherlock's specialty, and the odds of us cleaning up all of the poop before she showed up each time seemed unlikely.
Since then, the backyard has had to fend for itself.
But in the midst of the chaos, there are some lovely plants that have managed to withstand the weeds. I have roses in bright yellow, deep pink, white, and red -- all the size of large navel oranges -- growing in the front right corner. I also have some lovely calla lilies and fuchsia to the left. And an abutilon megaptamicum that I picked up at a flower show a couple of years ago.
The most visible is a row of poppies growing in the front tier of the yard. The side of our house facing the backyard is all windows, and whenever we have guests, the first thing they notice is the yard. The poppies rest eye-level when we sit on our couch, and their bright colors in various shades in the forefront of the yard command the most attention.
The couple of weeks ago, we had a few friends over for a friend's baby shower. As we were cleaning the yard a few days before they showed up, I thought, well, at least the poppies will be in bloom by the time they show up. Most of the poppies had buds on the verge of blooming, and I figured by the time people showed up, their beautiful colors will be adorning our yard. I pruned all the leftover stems from the prior bloom and watered them thoroughly.
The morning of the event, Jeff and I went out back to clean the dog poop. All of a sudden, I noticed that all of the poppy stems were budless. They were standing straight up, as if the flowers should have been on their end, but they were naked. All 20 or so buds appeared to have been bitten off. I wondered if some bird ate them, although that had never happened before. I mentioned it to Jeff, and he asked if there were bits of the bud that were left over. Nope, they were bitten off clean.
He paused, then looked at Sherlock, then back at the flowers.
"Sherlock, did you eat them?"
Sherlock, eyes popping wide, tilted his head to the side and wagged his tail.
Sherlock has had his heydays of attacking the yard, but that was before I met him. As a pup, he had a list of offenses on his rap sheet, including tearing apart the drip system, flooding the backyard, and swallowing a malibu light bulb that came out intact on the other end. But now, at the mature age of 6, we figured he had outgrown such dalliances. When we leave him outside these days, he seems to spend most of his time either sleeping in his little house or sunbathing on the steps.
About a week ago, I saw a slew of new poppy buds growing.
Yesterday morning, as I was eating my cereal, I looked out and suddenly realized that all the buds had been bitten off again. I called to Jeff to come look. There were about 30 stems, sticking straight up, holding nothing.
We wondered why these buds were attacked when all the other plants were left intact. Then we wondered about the day before when Sherlock had been unusually sluggish.
Could it be that we have an addict in the family?