As I write this, it is Friday morning and Lulu is lolling in her favorite sunny spot by the backyard fence. Lulu is my mother’s three-year-old chihuahua.
Last year I wrote about Clover, Mother’s chihuahua that died suddenly, and how deeply that loss was felt. Not long after that, Mother took in Lulu, a recent young mother whose human family had decided they needed to downsize. They decided to keep one of the puppies but to send Lulu to a new home. Mother had been recommended by a mutual acquaintance.
It was a rocky beginning for Lulu, who panicked when she realized she had lost the only family she had known. The first night was endless and exhausting with Lulu barking at and running away from the new humans she had been abruptly handed over to.
After a couple of days, she warmed up to Mother, but she absolutely hated me.
After a few weeks and many belly rubs, Lulu and I turned the corner and she came to recognize me as an ally and friend and the visitor who would always spoil and indulge and sneak treats to her. Over time, she has become a little obsessed with me. If Mother says, “Edward is coming,” she will go and keep watch by the front door until I get there. If I sit on the couch, she takes that as an invitation to join me for a belly rub. If I take a nap and leave the door open, she will jump in bed with me; if I leave the door closed, she will patiently wait by the door for me to emerge.
Lulu has the most highly alert sense of smell of any dog I’ve ever been around on a regular basis. She has her nose up, sniffing the air, or down, searching the ground, to seek out whatever scents may be around. When I take her for a walk in Mother’s neighborhood, she frequently stops to check out the scents of various grasses and plants. There is a mailbox post draped in jasmine that transfixes her. She takes long sniffs all around the post before she can be enticed to move away.
In Mother’s back yard there is one patch of grass in particular that appeals to her. She will run to it and delicately scratch the ground to release the scents. Often, she will roll around in it to perfume herself after sniffing for a while. Then she happily scampers to the house.
This acute attention to smell inspired me to undertake a fragrant project for Lulu and treat her to her very own herb garden.
I did my research, looking up several articles about herbs that are good for dogs. Of course, on internet searches, everybody has an opinion whether they have facts to back them up or not. On this search, one site said that garlic in small amounts was good for dogs and the outraged responses went hysterical and haywire as only the internet can.
I didn’t plan to use garlic to begin with.
So, based on my research, I got a strawberry pot and planted a different herb in each pocket. I planted basil, mint, parsley, sage, and thyme. I also planted a pocket of cilantro – which I don’t like much, but I’m not a dog and cilantro seems to have good benefits. Finally, rosemary was planted in the top of the pot. Oregano was mentioned throughout my research but I passed since I have never had luck growing it.
It was relaxing to plant Lulu’s herb garden and I pulled out one of my own strawberry pots and planted another one just like it to add to my kitchen herbs outside the back door.
On the drive to Birmingham, the earthy aromas of the herbal bounty filled the car with sensuous smells. When I arrived at Mother’s house and tempted Lulu with her pot, the response was tepid at best. As I carried the pot on out to the back porch, Lulu watched from a distance and seemed mildly curious but underwhelmed.
The next time she went outside, Lulu gave the herb pot a wide berth. After trotting around the yard for a while and making a stop to sniff around her favorite rose bushes, she slowly approached the pot and smelled the basil. Then she tentatively worked her way around the pot, sniffing at each herb. And then she continued to make her rounds.
A day later, it’s not clear if Lulu realizes that the herb pot is hers or not. But I have noticed that she stops for a sniff or two on her way out into the yard to loll in her sunny spot. It is still an experiment in progress as I watch to see if Lulu takes ownership of her little herb garden; she might not.
Either way, there’s a new source of fresh herbs at Mother’s house for cooking.