Tucker, a black and tan smooth-coated ” miniature” dachshund was my son Shaun’s gift from his grandparents for Christmas 1998. Little did we know that Tucker would forever change the way we grew tomatoes.
It all started when a piece of tomato magically levitated from Shaun’s salad bowl and plopped onto the kitchen floor. Now if you know anything about dachshunds, it’s that they are great floor cleaners – anything food related is immediately “Hoovered” up leaving no trace of said transgression. Tucker was on it like lightning – I was sure that he would chew it a bit, spit it out, thus causing even more clean-up for the maid. Oh by the way, that maid was me! Nope that little pup gobbled it right up and begged for more.
This lead to my husband Bob rolling grapes and cherry tomatoes across our very long kitchen floor for Tucker to chase and eat – a good workout for a pup ending with a healthy treat. (Years later we read that grapes are very bad for dogs. Fortunately Tucker never suffered any ill effects.)
That spring we planted our normal veggie garden consisting of corn (a story about that will come later), carrots, various herbs, and of course tomatoes – from Heirlooms, and the mighty big Beefsteak, to lovely Romas, and of course… Tucker’s favored roly-poly Cherry tomatoes.
Well as our tomatoes started to ripen and turn a beautiful shade of red, they started to disappear. We were blaming the grasshoppers, birds, squirrels, opossums, and even the rats that shared our back yard. It took a bit of sleuthing on my hubby’s part – the culprit turned out to be none other than Tucker himself. He’d walk by a tomato plant and bite off a tomato and then walk over to the lawn and sit down to enjoy his healthy snack. (For years after we’d find tomato plants sprouting in our lawn!)
So the following year, we planted our tomatoes in tall pots that Tucker could not get into. Now this made for one sad wiener dog, so we also planted him a cherry tomato plant either directly in the ground or in a shorter pot just for him to nosh on.
Our sweet Tucker crossed over the rainbow bridge seven years ago. The spring after we lost him, we planted a tomato in his honor thinking that Ruby and Harley (also wiener dogs) and Charlie (our grand wiener dog) would enjoy Tucker’s Tomato. Well it turns out that these three aren’t lovers of tomatoes as Tucker was. So each year’s crop are exclusively planted in our big pots in memory of our Tomato Eating Tucker.
Contributed by Cindie Reilly, MLHMGT Board member