Stumped: How I turned my dog into a decorative lawn ornament
It has been a year now since Ace and I moved into a little house in Bethania, North Carolina, and we’ve made a home improvement or two – even though we just rent.
One issue I hadn’t figured out though was what to do with the big tree stump in the front yard – which many might view as an eyesore.
Two years ago the whole property was an eyesore. The house was heavily damaged by a fire – a fire that, I’m told, killed two or three of the dogs that lived with the person who rented it then.
The little white house on Main Street sat vacant – amid a neighborhood of historic, pre-Revolutionary, mostly meticulously kept homes in Bethania, a community settled by Moravians in 1759.
It was purchased and renovated by the man who’s now my landlord, and since I moved in – and without spending too much of my own money – I’ve tried to make some little improvements here and there to the grounds.
As for the tree stump, I contemplated hollowing out the center and turning it into a decorative planter, but that would be a lot of work.
I thought about putting a plaque across it, the sort that a lot of the truly historic homes in town have. Mine’s just 1940s vintage, though.
I considered carving a Moravian star – sort of the town symbol – on the top of the stump. But that would be a lot of work, too.
For a good long while, I was stumped. Then it came to me. Rather than cover it up, I should use the big ol’ stump as a focal point – as the foundation, or pedestal, if you will, for some artwork.
And that’s how my dog became a decorative lawn ornament.
You know those big mansions you sometimes see – the ones with big cement lions on either side of the driveway? I’m not sure what message those big cement lions are supposed to send – other than “Yes, I’m rich enough to afford big cement lions.” Or maybe, “Enter at your own risk; this area patrolled by big cement lions.”
Having no big cement lions myself, and having a pedestal on only one side of my driveway, I decided upon a variation of that theme, and called upon my big ol’ dog.
It took only a day to teach him, with help from treats, to “Get on the stump,” and then sit still, and then stay there when I walk away.
(Yes, you can teach an old dog new tricks, and even learn some your old self.)
Now, I can sit up on the front porch and command him to get on the stump, and then watch as people in cars whizzing past my otherwise nondescript house do double takes and point.
(Just as a reminder the speed limit is 35 in front of my house.)
Being a living lawn ornament, and given he has come to expect some treatage for getting on the stump, he’s not entirely motionless. If you watch carefully you can see the flow of drool that often cascades from his mouth while he’s up there, knowing that, in exchange for his toil, there’s a treat in his near future.
He’ll sit there for 10 minutes or more, though I usually don’t make him stay that long.
Of all the yard improvements I’ve made – flower boxes and flower beds and distributing pine needles to cover up the weeds on the front bank that’s too steep for me to mow – I think the Ace lawn ornament is by far my biggest achievement.
He is after all, the finest work of art I own, and I like to think – whether he’s up on his tree stump pedestal or just hanging out in the yard – he makes the bucolic little town of Bethania even more beautiful.
(Photo and video by John Woestendiek / ohmidog!)
Posted by John Woestendiek May 22nd, 2014 under Muttsblog, videos.
Tags: ace, animals, behavior, bethania, dog, dogs, gardening, historic, historical, home improvement, landscaping, main street, moravian, new tricks, north carolina, old dogs, pets, settlement, stump, teaching, training, treats, tree, tree stump, tricks, yard