Thursday, May 29, 2014

Composting Canines

Guest post from Joy Landry.

I confess. I was one of those people who was hesitant to compost. My head was full of what ifs: What if it’s smelly? What if it doesn’t actually decompose? What if my neighbors find the compost pile unsightly? What if the compost attracts wildlife?

I wasn’t too concerned about wildlife pillaging my new compost pile as my two intrepid golden retrievers had chased all the birds, squirrels and rabbits from my yard.

The one “what if” I didn’t really consider was what if my dogs get into the compost?

I thought I had that covered. I used a four-foot high plastic coated chicken wire to construct my compost pile in the corner of the backyard. Historically, my goldens respect barriers – even the two-foot baby gate they could easily vault to get into the guest bedroom. So for the first few years, I had no problems. Although they would often escort me to the compost pile, noses in the air, checking out what I was throwing away, Rocket and Duke generally ignored the compost pile. Chasing wayward squirrels or running the fence-line with the neighbor’s boxer was more fun.

One lazy summer afternoon, I carried the reusable compost container filled with chopped up cantaloupe shell and unceremoniously threw it atop the compost pile. I was in a hurry and neglected to cover, much less bury, the discarded fruit. Gravity had its way and slowly, some of the cantaloupe slid to the bottom of the pile, landing tantalizingly along the inside of the compost fencing.

Later that evening, when the dogs uncharacteristically didn’t come running with their floppy ears flying when I called, I took a stroll to the backyard to see what kept them.

There was Duke, craning his long skinny neck, muzzle shoved through the wire, desperately and yet happily licking at a chunk of grass-covered cantaloupe shell. Rocket pranced nearby, tail wagging, impatiently waiting his turn.

If you are a composting dog owner, you should know that compost can be poisonous to your canine companion so it is best not to tempt them with fresh, unburied treats such as apple cores, banana peels and cantaloupe shells. For your dog’s health, and to discourage wildlife from visiting your compost pile, be sure to completely cover your food scraps. You may wish to save a bag of fall leaves for just that purpose.

How do you keep pets out of your compost bin?
Mmmm, is that melon I smell?

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