8.06.2008

Bark, bark everywhere

Our dog's bark is worse than his bite.

The dog, Elvis, has never intentionally bitten anyone, despite the fact that he's equipped with a set of choppers worthy of a crocodile. He rarely raises his voice unless he's provoked by something nefarious like, say, a cat.

When I say "bark," I don't mean bark as in "woof," but bark as in "tree." In particular, I mean shredded tree bark that has become my chief nemesis in life.

In our back yard, shredded bark covers a berm that rises to the base of the tall rear fence. The bark was placed there as a landscaping "statement" by the developers. What they're saying with this statement is this: Nothing much will grow on this steep slope of clay and discarded concrete, so we'll hide it with shredded bark.

Well, that's just fine. Until it rains. Or the wind blows. At times of such unforeseen "acts of God," the bark tends to migrate until the berm is a barren slope surrounded by dunes of relocated bark.

Now factor into this landscaping scheme one large fuzzy dog with full roaming privileges.

You can picture what happens. Elvis goes for a romp and collects dozens of bits of the aforementioned bark on his curly fur. Then he comes indoors and shakes the bark onto the handy light-colored carpet. Where it becomes my problem.

I'm in charge of keeping the floors clean, which has put me in a years-long power struggle with Elvis. Our previous home had a large lawn. There, Elvis saw it as his mission to de-thatch the lawn and bring all the dead grass into the house. I vacuumed up so much dead yellow grass that each time I emptied the vacuum cleaner bag, I netted one entire bale of hay.

At the current house, we don't have the dead grass problem. We have the bark gradually making its way indoors. No matter how clean the house may be, one good shake from Elvis and the place looks like a sawmill.

Muttering vile curses, I vacuum up the bark. Once the bag is full, it goes into the trash. Which means the dog and I are slowly sending all the migrating bark to the dump. This, I'm pretty sure, isn't what the landscapers had in mind.

Here's the killer: Twice in the past year, I've been forced to go to the home improvement store and buy hundreds of pounds of shredded bark to cover up the denuded berm. I've hauled the 50-pound bags up the berm and spread the bark around, getting splinters in my hands and dirt in my shoes. And I've done this with the full knowledge that Elvis will come right behind me and move all that bark right into the house.

Sure, it's insane, but I can find no other solution. Replacing the bark with gravel would be expensive and ugly. A naked berm would look even worse. Keeping Elvis cooped up so he can't reach the bark seems cruel. (Cutting his fur extra-short doesn't work; we've tried it.) And the dog's not going anywhere; he's a more integral part of the family than I am.

So I'll just keep cycling the bark through, with the full recognition that our property is a mere way-station on the journey from store to landfill. I can always pretend it's my hobby.

I'm funny that way. And when I say "funny," I don't mean funny as in "haha," I mean funny as in "barking crazy."

1 comment:

Judy S said...

Plant some native grasses that do not need irrigation. Elvis can hide in them to just to annoy you.