Although they can live as far north as southern Canada, unless you are in the drier, scrubbier, hotter climes of the Americas you are unlikely to encounter a yard full of cactus on a regular basis. Unfortunately, the S’mores and I live in one of those climes and a number of my drought-aware neighbors have planted the damned pin cushions along our walking routes.
Normally I have nothing against cactus*; I had my encounter with one when I was a boy, and even the most obstinate child can learn a valuable lesson from a handful of spines meticulously plucked out one by one. Speaking of obstinate children, ever notice how much they and dogs have in common?
Perhaps it’s her youth, or maybe her personality but Marsha is ever eager to investigate things that Hershey and Graham don’t even register. Hole in a fence? Sticks her head in. Weird thing on the ground (aka a piece of trash)? Let’s take a sniff! A yard full of funny looking spiky green things?! Let’s get a closer loo…
At this point, the more observant, vigilant and sensible member of the dog walking team (me) sees her trajectory, evaluates the likelihood of a bad day if said trajectory continues, calculates the veterinary costs involved in mitigating the results of that bad day, and not liking any of the projected outcomes makes a preemptive course correction. Yes, Marsha has gotten quite used to getting yanked back and forced to go another direction just as she was getting to something interesting.
I’ve been tempted to let her find out just how much of a mistake it would be getting friendly with a plant that clearly doesn’t wanted to be bothered (the “fork in the socket” school of parenting) but don’t have the heart(lessness) for it.
Hopefully, after enough near misses, and redirections she’ll get the idea to leave the cactus alone. Until then, eternal vigilance.
*Oleanders on the other hand… When I was 5 or 6 my grandmother told me not to play in the oleander bushes because they were poisonous. Being young, impressionable, and insanely imaginative I somehow came to the conclusion that they were also capable of movement and out to get me. I’ve hated them ever since. Sure I’ve come up with more reasonable explanations for my dislike (they’re ugly, over used, release toxic smoke when you burn them) but at its core, deep in my mind, they’re still poisonous triffids that I must be ever vigilant against.