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Dig It! Gardening Tips for Dogs

Dig It! Gardening Tips for Dogs
a book for when your dog gardens too, too much!

Tuesday, December 15, 2009

How to Self-Publish your Own Book

There’s a saying that “we all have a book in us”. That may be true, but the process in getting the book out can be the hardest thing in the world for some.

Do you ever wish you could write a book? Well, my advice as one who has written a book and self-published it, is start with what you already have. That is how I eventually got my little book “Dig It! Gardening Tips for Dogs” published.

I am a writer, I love to write things – poems, book titles, articles, story ideas. And I love talking about things to my friends. That is how “Dig It!” moved closer to being a book. It started out as a short humorous article in a local Dog club newsletter “Schnauzer Scope” and it went from there, until it was a real book you can hold in your hand and wonder at (or read and chuckle over!).

I told my friend Allyson Hean about the article and gave her a copy when she asked to read it. Ally loves to draw things. I remember her ‘scribbling’ the most gorgeous pencil drawings in meetings at the Parent Group at Mallala Primary School we were both involved in when our kids were younger.

Allyson took the article, did some lovely drawings and we decided, what the heck, we’d self-publish a book, as simple as that. I already knew a local printer who had done some work on things I was involved in, so we had a chat and away it all went.

I expanded the original article and Ally did more drawings and put the whole thing together using Microsoft Publisher. I applied for an ISBN for the book, and a bar code, and it was ready for the printer. We took along a disc that had our book on it and gave it to the printer with an order for 100 copies.

Those 100 copies disappeared quite nicely, so I ordered another 100 copies. Those were slower to disappear, but that was OK, my costs were covered and the important thing was that I was able to connect with other people who love gardening and who love dogs.

I have sold copies of my book for up to $20 and have also swapped copies for other people’s books. Some copies have been strategically given away for free. Once I had sold enough copies, I ordered 100 more copies, and the remnants of that print run and the copies I still have left.

I have had fun with the whole process, and I’ve learned things about self-publishing. I’ve learned it’s hard work to get distribution and you have to be ready to utilise opportunities as they arise. It is a long way from being a shy and retiring author locked away with our pen and paper, to being a bight and bubbly author promoting your book because you know it is the most fantastic Christmas present for those hard to buy for friends who love their garden and/or their dog and they don’t like anything else.

It’s also great for anyone with a sense of humour and it’s almost worth the money just for the lovely pictures Allyson has done!

If you think you would like to give this a try, there are lots of internet sites there to help you and there are also lots of self-publishing books available – visit your local library, in fact, build a stronger relationship with your local library – they may be willing to help you in many ways you haven’t even thought about. I’ve been to some great book launches at my favourite library, and I know if I had put on a book launch there I would have made more sales.

This website (click here) has lots of ideas but check out the hundreds of other sites to find ideas for your own book.

So that is my story. I am not anybody special, I’m just an ordinary person who had an idea and was prepared to take it to its logical conclusion. You too can publish your own book!

Sunday, December 6, 2009

Book sales

My sales of 'Dig it! Gardening Tips for Dogs' continue and I'm connecting with dog owners around the place. Just about everybody I talk to about the book has a funny 'dog in the garden' story.

Then there are the amazing dogs that don't do anything naughty in the garden ever. I'm not certain these dogs really exist, but people assure me they do. I hope that your dog brings you joy and happiness in the garden as well as lots of fun and laughter!

Monday, September 21, 2009

Wow, the Weather yesterday was Amazing!

Wild wind and a stay out of the rain day yesterday for the dogs. None of the dogs we have now are afraid of thunder and lightning fortunately, but none of them are mad keen on the driving rain we had.

La De Da still had a bit of a dig up of the back 'lawn' though! It's amazing - he will not get it through his head that we don't want him digging. The thrill of chasing the dirt he digs up is the best part, and if I yell at him he thinks it's good he's getting attention.

I am making some progress with La De though - he sits for his dinner, comes to me more often when I call him, and he sits other times when I tell him too. The Pharaoh Hound is just not as obedient as a Schnauzer though. The Pharaohs are clever like cats are clever, which is not what you want from a dog, is it?

Just as well they're handsome. There is a gorgeous Pharaoh Hound on TV the other night. We watched some of Crufts and the winner of the Hound Group was a Pharaoh Hound! INT CH NORTHGATE'S AS YOU LIKE IT [ATC AJ01287FIN]
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Sunday, June 7, 2009

It's raining, dogs don't want to go out.

Our old sofa has become our most used piece of furniture these past couple of days. Just after the day, a couple of weeks ago that we decided the old sofa was OK for teenage son and dogs, the rain has come.

It has been raining off and on for over a week, and we have had many millimetres of rain in our rain gauge. The grass is growing back and because the dogs are staying inside, La De is not wreaking his usual havoc on our back lawn. Woo Hoo!

The pharaoh hounds in particular are enjoying the sofa, because our old schnauzer, Rangler. does not dare to get up there, and Nena, our younger schnauzer is safely locked away in the crate, when the dominant pharaoh hound, Ananka, can't get her.

It's peaceful, it's raining, all is good in our world. OH, except our old pharaoh hound, Kharis decided to get on the newer sofa this morning, and Graham, my husband, had to give him a stern talking to. He won't do that again, I don't think, not now that he realises we don't want him to. You have to let your dogs know what you expect of them, and then they usually will play by your rules.

Monday, May 25, 2009

How Dogs Garden

Digging is not the only thing dogs do in the garden, of course. It just happens to be the first one most people think of when you mention the subject. We have had puppies who love to do pruning, pull down washing for mulching, getting rid of garden pests.

Recently we had a garden pest, a kitten. I had to step in and do the work on getting rid of that one. Fortunately, the kitten and the dogs were on opposite sides of a fence, so there was no nasty blood.

I'm not a cat person, but it was a cute kitten, so I strolled up the street and found the little cuties' home. I warned to kitten's owner that it might mot work out so well the next time his kitten tried to get in our backyard. I'm glad to say I haven't seen the kitten since.

Our dogs also help with the birds. They yell (bark) at them to scare them off, and sometimes they get rid of the slow ones by catching and eating them. We have also had pest reptiles killed by the dogs. The brown snake bitten in half caused me some stress, but it worked out just fine.

I threw out the snake bits, and the dogs lived to woof another day.

We get a particular type of very large moth come out after a heavy rain following a dry period, and it is hilarious to see baby puppies try to dispose of these pests. The moths are almost bigger than the pups.

Wednesday, May 13, 2009

It's raining, dogs quiet!

We just had a huge rain shower and I think all of the dogs have lost their collective powers of communication.

All of the Pharaoh Hounds are outside, and not a single one of them is woofing. It's a miracle. Of course they have probably retreated to their sheltered spots outside. I'm not game enough to poke my head out the door in case they start barking again.

If they're lying down somewhere comfy out of the rain, well that's good for all of us.

The Schnauzers are both inside at the moment. One of them is our oldest girl, Rangler (CH Holkschter Ranger Jane), and the other is Nena who I have a very soft spot for. I think Nena feels the same way about me.

That will all change soon enough, Jake will come home from school, dogs will have to woof at him to say "hello, let us inside please". Then it will be dinner time for the dogs, and even Rangler, especially Rangler, will woof at me to make me work faster.

Rangler hasn't figured out yet that I take exactly the same time to make dogs' dinner whether she's barking her had off at me or not. She'd annoying, but at least she's not one who digs holes in the back lawn!

Monday, May 4, 2009

The Winner Is Announced!

Congratulations to Sue Kennedy, also known as Domestic Daze. She has won with her Old English Sheepdogs pissing on the herbs and being afraid of getting their toes wet. Very funny for a breed of dog that herds sheep in the sodden sheep country in their homeland in England.

I'd still love to read about other people's dogs and how they garden. At the moment, our dogs are happy to stay inside until much later in the morning. It used to be 7.00 am they were looking for an outside run, but some of them are still sleeping and it's nearly 11.00am!

I don't blame them, I haven't been outside either this morning.It's cold out there! It's going to be a lovely mild day, but after another clear sky overnight, the morning is rather nippy. I'm hoping it will be getting warmer soon, I have a load of washing nearly ready to be hung out.

Once the washing is hung out, I'll have to keep an eye on things when Missy is outside. She's our youngest dog, a lovely Pharaoh Hound girl, and I'm not entirely convinced she had nothing to do with the washing that has ended up on the ground in the past few weeks. It might have been the wind, but every time it has happened, Missy has been outside.

I can't say she did it, because I haven't seen her pulling at the washing, she's just been in the vicinity. At the moment, she's curled up in a dog crate with her big brother, La De Da. They look very cute.

Thursday, April 30, 2009

Competition over!

Well a new month brings many new things. It also calls the end to other things.

One thing that promised to be fun was the competition to find the best true story about dogs in the garden. But, sadly, that competition has closed now, and once the judging is over, the winner will be announced and the prize will be posted.

Don't despair though, if you didn't get your entry in. We may still be offering a prize for good true stories about the subject. Dogs and gardens go together so well, don't they?

Saturday, April 11, 2009

Win a book! Free! Dogs and Gardens

Yes, dogs and gardens can add up to perfect happiness; or they can add up to perfect stress and mayhem! I'd love to hear your true stories about your dog and garden!

If you have a dog causing havoc in your garden, perhaps you need to get down to dog level and work out why your dog is going what it's doing. Is your dog bored? Does your dog realise it isn't meant to pull sheets off the clothesline? Is your dog digging after things to eat?

There are many books and websites that deal with each of these problems, I'm not going into them in detail. I know La De digs because it keeps him amused, and I know puppies pull things from the clothesline because they haven't learned not to yet. My dogs love to catch things and eat them, not because they're hungry necessarily, but because they have instincts that tell them to do it. Looking at it from the dog's point of view can certainly help. They seem almost human sometimes, but dogs are dogs, they do dog things.

Yes dogs do dog things, and being out in the garden, sitting around and watching the dogs play and explore is so much fun, it helps us get over the frustration of the mess caused by the dogs. That is, until the breeze kicks up and we're covered in dust because of La De's digging! It's not all his fault. If there weren't water restrictions because of the drought, our back lawn would be growing better and there wouldn't be so much bare earth.

Of course, if La De left it all alone, it would give the grass a better chance, but...

Anyway, do you have any fun or frustration-plus Dog and Garden stories? I'll give a free copy of my book to the best Dogs and Gardens story I receive in April 2009. (residents of Australia only)

If you wish to enter, either leave as a comment here, or email to, giving your postal address and name

Tuesday, April 7, 2009

Good 'Dog in the Garden' stories

I was talking to some people yesterday when I was poet in residence at the Mallala Hotel. We got talking about dogs, because I had showed them a copy of my 'Dig It! Gardening Tips for Dogs' book.

One of them told me about how he came to get his dog. It was not a nice story, but it had a happy ending. This man, Philip, lives in Singapore, and he had noticed a dog on a wire, so it could run 'loose', but there was no shade at all. This wasn't a once off situation, he saw it for some time. Philip was unhappy about the situation, and offered to buy the dog.

The owners refused, and said they couldn't bear to part with their dog. Philip said, what if I tell the authorities about how you are keeping the dog? The people backed down and sold the dog to Philip. The dog now lives a much happier life, with plenty of shade, and shelter when it rains. This dog is a kind of child substitute, much loved and cared for. Philip and his wife are happy to have saved the dog from distress, and thrilled to have the dog in their lives.

The other person, Scott, had a different story. He has a cairn terrier, which he takes hunting. The dog is a very good hunter, and Scott likes him for his hunting abilities.

Last winter Scott's dog was doing some 'pruning' of the creeper going up Scott's pergola. The dog chewed the plant right down to ground level, and Scott felt like shooting the dog, he was so angry. But he calmed down and the dog was allowed to live. Then, come spring, that creeper crept up and over the pergola, thick and lush and healthier than it had ever been. Scott is a firm believer in letting his dog get involved in the gardening now!

I was happy to hear both of these stories, it shows how beneficial it can be if you get your dog out there in the garden, and how much joy a dog can bring to a person's life.

Wednesday, March 25, 2009

Self-publishing My Book

How did I go about self-publishing? OK, first book first “Dig It! Gardening Tips for Dogs”.
This little book started out as an amusing article in a dog club magazine. It then sat in the drawer for more years than I care to think about, before I decided to do something with it. I read it, expanded it, edited it, then I mentioned it to a friend who is quite good at drawing. She asked to see a copy, I gave her a copy, she did a drawing (very good).

We talked about the whole thing and decided to have a go at printing it ourselves. The friend did more illustrations, I organised an ISBN number and barcode, my friend put the whole thing together, I took it to a local printer and Hey Presto, I had a book.

The first print run was for 50 copies, they sold or were given away, I did another print run, same story, sold or given away. Third print run. I still have about half of the third print run left, and won’t be going for a fourth print run this year, unless somehow there is a run on people wanting copies.

It’s been fun, but I know I’m not brilliant at marketing, I have a lot to learn.

Second book was quite different. “How to Lose Weight and Keep it Off”. I had this one done online by I wrote a small book, and uploaded it to Lulu for publishing as an Ebook. The only copy sold was bought by me, and I would certainly use this method again. The copies are available from Lulu, but there are millions of books there, and mine doesn’t stand out, hence the lack of sales.

For both of these books have a website each, on, and they get a few clicks each, but it hasn’t led to sales at this time.

Adelaide Plains Poets Inc have self-published two anthologies, using the same local printer, who I think does a good job at a fair price. Grandeur Press is the name, in Balaklava.

So that’s my story

Monday, March 23, 2009

Dogs in the Garden

I was talking to someone the other day and they told me their dog doesn't do any gardening. Doesn't dig holes, or chew plants, none of that naughty stuff.

Then they remembered. Their dog likes to move plants around a bit. He digs plants up, moves them to another part of the garden, then replants the plant in the new spot.

The person said it almost apologetically, like they were sorry their dog wasn't destructive! I would love to have a dog that did what that person's dog does. One of our dogs had a real thing about a camelia we had in a pot.
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Helga, our first schnauzer, would dig the camelia out of its pot, time and time again, until the inevitable happened and we got sick of putting it back in the pot and just chucked it away. The camelia was looking sicker and sicker all the time. They don't like having their roots mucked around with.

Helga is also the dog that taught us how tasty bonsai trees are, or possible how bad out protective fencing abilities are. In the end the bonsai trees lived on a table on the back patio, surrounded by chicken wire and posts. It wasn't the most attractive display in the world, but it kept the plants safe.

In her defense, I will say that Helga was a puppy at the time, and she grew out of the habit. Or maybe she didn't do it any more because we moved house and the bonsai was kept in a part of the garden the dogs didn't have easy access to.

Anyway, our bonsai are safe from dogs now. It's just the bugs and the sun doing them damage these days.

Tuesday, March 17, 2009

Hanging baskets

My husband and I are dog breeders, and every year or so we have a new litter of puppies. The puppies stay inside the house for their first four weeks, then, depending on the weather, they get to go outside to explore.

I love watching the puppies as they discover brand new things, bravely venturing out, or sticking close to me for safety, depending on their character. One thing that always delights the little babes is the bits of plants dangling from the hanging plants on our veranda.

One plant in particular dangles nearly down to the ground when we don't have any puppies, and when we do have puppies it dangles just out of puppies' reach (they prune it). When I water the hanging pots the pups are fascinated by the drips and drops landing on the concrete, or their heads, or each others' heads.

One of the main roles of baby puppies is to amuse sometimes sour and cynical people. The puppies at our kennel fulfill this role beautifully.

Tuesday, March 3, 2009

What my dogs do in the garden

My husband called me to look out of the window about an hour ago. 'Look what they're doing,' he said.

So I looked, and it was so funny. I'm glad I looked. La De (show name Holkschter La De Da) was standing behind is little sister Missy (show name Holkschter Kiss Me Quick) and he was waiting for her to dig up some dirt.

She dug, he chased the dug up dirt. She kept digging, he kept chasing. I don't know if they're still doing it, but I'm sure they'll get back to it at some time again. It's usually La De doing the digging and chasing on his own, but today he had an accomplice. I don't know if that's better for the dogs, but it sure was funny to watch.

La De loves to chase, it's a genetic thing. Pharaoh Hounds are like greyhounds, they have an innate desire to chase. I don't throw the ball for the dogs, so La De does his own thing, with chasing the dirt. He used to like chasing water when I had the hose on, but with the water restrictions on in South Australia, that's not an option any more.

So that's gardening for a couple of our dogs - they're into the digging aspect of it. If only I could get them to dig where I want dirt dug up. I could hire them out and make a fortune!