The center of the park where dogs are allowed to run off leash has a big foxtail problem this year. The villain is a kind of barley. A map of the area circulated by off-leash area users shows a heavy profusion of this plant, which can cause injury to dogs, and efforts are underway to mobilize volunteers to Do Something About It, failing which the area may become too dangerous for off-leash dogs.
My camera this morning caught a furry little volunteer in the act of attacking the problem. The plant whose seeds he was munching on may not have been barley, but if he had barley in his area, chances are he’d love it. Wild barley is also part of a staple diet for a number of wild birds, and is sold commercially for bird feed. So, with enough squirrels and birds, nature might take care of the foxtail problem in its own inimitable way. Except, of course, in the off-leash dog area, where the dogs pretty much scare away both birds and squirrels from their barley-clearing jobs. Talk about dog-in-the-manger!