Okay, so, every year I suffer through LEAVES and RELATED VEGETATION falling from trees to the ground, then being gathered up and transported inside by the boxcar load by the spaniels. If I can prevent EVEN ONE person from having to endure the same fate, then this blog post will be worth it, right?
This is a Cavalier King Charles Spaniel in full coat. Note the long hair, especially on the ears, chest, belly, legs, and tail. This longer part of the coat is referred to as the dog’s “furnishings.” This coat is soft, not coarse like the coat of a terrier.
This is Conner. Isn’t he handsome? He is also MUCH SHORTER than, say, an English Setter. My guess is that a Setter would also pick up a lot of trash in his coat, but probably not as much because his belly would be farther from the ground.
Conner’s coat picks up EVERYTHING. Most particularly burrs. Even after I walk through the yard and other areas where the dogs run, destroying every burr plant I can find, a dog occasionally comes in COVERED with burrs. Naming no names, but Conner’s sister Kimmie is by far the worst offender.
That’s the best picture I’ve ever taken, maybe, and you wouldn’t think it to look at her, but WOW does this dog have prey drive! She dives through underbrush without even noticing, particularly if she thinks there might be BIRDS, but also if she has suspicions about bunnies. She is a genius at finding burr plants no matter how carefully I search for and destroy them.
But anyone could guess that burrs wouldn’t be a happy companion plant for spaniels. Let me show you the WORST TREE.
This is a bald cypress, courtesy of Seth Betterly on Unsplash because I do not want to take the time to go through my phone and find a good picture of my own trees.
The bald cypress is one of my very favorite trees. It is one of the few needled deciduous trees. A bald cypress is beautiful as a sapling, beautiful as a youngster, beautiful as a mature tree, and beautiful in old age. The delicate green of the spring foliage is nice, the fall color is this handsome toasty color, and I love the shape of the trunk, so I like them even in winter. They are one of the rare specimen trees that looks great with branches all the way to the ground but also great if you limb them up, however high you choose to do that.
But see those frond-like leaves that have turned color? Those fall off the tree. They are about a fingerlength long with little spiky bits off the sides. They might as well be coated in GLUE. Every single time I forget and take the dogs under my bald cypresses, I have a ton of work to do with an extremely sturdy wide-toothed comb. The only good part is that these trees — I have three — are not actually in the yard. But they do overhang the driveway and the road, so avoiding them is difficult.
We’re a long way from spring, but while we’re on the subject, oaks, almost every one of the 500 or so species, are almost as bad as bald cypress. Not only do the dogs bring in leaves in the fall — not so much trouble, as oaks have big nonsticky leaves — but sometimes they try to eat acorns. Acorns are moderately toxic to dogs, so this is not ideal. But worst of all, in the spring, oaks flower abundantly, like this:
Image from Pixibay. Someone with a better camera than mine took this highly detailed picture. These are strands of male flowers. They will fall off the tree in massive quantities. I was exaggerating when I said bald cypress leaflets are coated in glue. THESE flowers actually sort of are. They produce pollen. Pollen is sticky. They are TERRIBLE for spaniels. I’m not actually tempted to cut down the fifty-year-old oaks in my yard, but … okay, maybe I am tempted.
Anybody with a spaniel should look UP at the TREES before buying a house. If planting trees, if you have a fluffy dog, do not plant these trees no matter how much you love them! Plant something else!
You know what the best trees are for coexistence with fluffy dogs?
This is my magnolia “Ann,” which blooms sporadically all summer. This is one of the late blooms, which is why the little tree is leafed out while flowering. Way more flowers in early spring, but this is nice all summer.
This is my big Yulan magnolia.
My point is: the leaves of all magnolias are big and heavy. The dogs never pick up those leaves. The flowers are big, with big petals. The dogs never pick up those petals. Magnolias produce zero detritus that makes its way into the house. If you have a spaniel? Or any coated dog with abundant furnishings? THIS is the right genus of tree for you.
Also, magnolias are beautiful.
Detail of a Yulan flower.
Magnolias are my favorite trees. I do wonder, when combing infinite numbers of bald cypress leaflets out of Conner’s furnishings, if perhaps their cleanliness might be why. It certainly doesn’t hurt.