July 29, 2022

When Melissa let Zena out to play on the porch yesterday, she ran to the back of the fence and began to bark incessantly.  Zena usually only barks when she gets excited when we play at night or if she finds some new object in her familiar surroundings.  When I put my jar of sun tea out the first time she barked until I finally went outside and introduced her to the jar.  She quit barking when she knew it was not a threat and now ignores the jar if it is outside.  Zena will also bark at strange dogs or people she meets on our walks, but again stops when she knows they are not a threat.  That led Melissa to believe Zena must have found something new and she went out to investigate.  There was a young armadillo frozen along the trees just off the back fence.  When it saw Melissa, it decided to take off and Zena quit barking.

When I looked online, I found the Great Pyrenees do tend to bark a lot.  They were initially bred to guard livestock, and they use their bark to scare away predators and to alert their owners of potential dangers.  This protective instinct is what makes them excellent watchdogs.  This same instinct can make them a difficult pet to raise.  Pyrenees have a deep, loud bark to scare away intruders.  They also tend to sleep more during the day and stay awake at night to act as protection.  The continuous night barking at the slightest unexpected noise or movement can make them a challenging pet to keep in urban or suburban areas.  Pyrenees also have a reputation for being stubborn, independent, and hard to train, and it can be difficult to control their urge to bark.  Early training, which rewards them when they stop barking may help, but Pyrenees are not very treat-motivated.  The site closed, “If you’re looking for a quiet dog, other breeds may be a better choice for you.”  Lucky for us, Zena does not tend to bark and is highly motivated by treats.  We also keep her inside at night, so she does not investigate and bark at strange sounds.

When I went out to water my plants later, I saw the night critters had been active again.  I have had problems with something eating the tomatoes and strawberries but assumed these were the birds, especially since I have watched the blue jays flying out of my strawberry patch.  I have had problems with the soot cage being opened and knocked to the ground and have assumed it was the squirrel that I have seen nosing around the feeder.  I even had the raccoon that got onto the porch and into the bird seed bags forcing me to confine it in 5-gllon buckets.  With the heat most of my vegetables have only produced sparsely, but my pride has been the two small cantaloupes that have been growing on the vine near the house.  While one is still green, the other was beginning to ripen.  While I do not know, I assume the armadillo got to it, as it was torn off the vine and there were holes where something had chewed through the rind.  Maybe I should have left Zena outside to bark after all.

Thoughts:  The Arkansas Gardeners group that I am part of has two basic types of posts.  The first is the cool do-it-yourself projects.  These raised beds, makeshift greenhouses, and sun-shaded crop rows were prevalent as the growing season really got going toward the end of June.  Most posts now are of the second type, asking for advice on ridding the garden from insects and organic ways to eliminate weeds.  Now with the heat, there is a new category where people bark about the money spent preparing, planting, and watering plants without seeing any real produce.  One reason for my garden is an attempt to learn what it takes to be self-sustaining.  What has been re-impressed with this year’s vegetables is how fragile subsistence living can be.  Maybe I should go to the market for another cantaloupe.  Act for all.  Change is coming and it starts with you.

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