Thursday, July 03, 2008

Just a Duck of the Head...

It was just a duck of the head.

Katy, my lab mix, was licking the remains out of my morning oatmeal bowl and she merely ducked her head a bit to side. Suddenly I reminded of my old dog Woody. Movements are one of the most powerful triggers to memory.

Woody was a shy, bit obssessive Border Collie/Lab mix we rescued from the county humane service. While not the runt of his litter, he was runt+1. Definitely the lowest male in his birth pack. When he came to our house, he also became the lowest rung male, below my spouse and our adult male dog, Prince.

Because of his status, he developed some interesting quirks; Katy's simple duck of her head this morning reminded me of one: he'd try to bury bones, treat and toys to keep them safe from status animals.

Being an inside dog, Woody's most common act would be to try and bury his special thing in a blanket, quilt or lap throw. He'd place it gently on the cloth, then scrape the edges over his treat with his front paws. Final perfection of the bury was always done with nose scraping cloth, teeth tugging cloth, paws kneading cloth to make a perfect hide. He'd inspect his work and often destroy it and begin again.

Scratch, scrape, tug, knead, scrape, tug, knead again.

Eventually, he'd be satisfied with the work, lay down on top of his prize and take a nap.

Sometimes, however, his burying "gene" would kick in strangely. He'd have a rawhide treat or a particularly flavorful tennis ball and decide right that minute that it must be buried where it was. Which was usually on a carpeted floor.

Thankfully, his unique brain would recognize that this must be a very stealthy bury. No scratching of the soil could take place; it might signal to the world that something is buried here. Instead, he would quietly rub his face against the carpeting, moving his muzzle in a mounding fashion, trying to get the nap of the carpet to cover his work. He'd gently knead the area, rub some more, gently knead.

Usually he could decide for himself that this prize was safe. Then he'd retrieve it, destroy it, or carry away, perhaps to bury it again in a quilt.

We have two dogs today still, but Woody was lost just over 5 years ago. (a sad tale I shall not transmit today). I still occasionally miss his goofy mannerisms, though the BC we adopted after his loss has plenty of his own.

None of them involve imaginary burying.

I also blog at: Weight for Deb and BlogHer on Mondays and Saturdays.


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