Day by Day cartoon

Monday, July 09, 2007

Old dog- new tricks

I mentioned that we took along our elderly dog Sandy during the weekend camping trip. Sandy's a sweet dog, a Hungarian Visla and although her actual age is unknown, she is obviously getting up in age. She has lived at our house now for nearly 5 years and her former owner had rescued her and made her his best friend for 6 or 7 years before she came to live with us. Her muzzle has turned nearly white and her hearing has failed over the past year- she's deaf as a stump these days.

But she seems to be a happy dog with simple needs and although she doesn't really understand the whole camping thing, she goes along with it because the spouse and I are there and usually available to scratch her ears and rub her back. One of her most favorite things, one thing that really gets her excited and animated is her once-a-day Milk Bone. She loves her crunchy chew biscuit and she gets one every evening. These are her treats and she happily crunches up her treat in the hallway corner every evening when I pass her one from the big red biscuit bucket.

Of course when we went camping I took along enough Milk Bones for her evening's treat. On Friday night, surprisingly, she didn't want her treat and she left it in her bowl. That was pretty unusual but sometimes when she's nervous she will pass up her regular kibble and occasionally her biscuit too. On Saturday morning I got up, went out to make coffee and then sat down at the picnic table to enjoy my coffee. Sandy was with me and we already had gone for her morning walk. When I sat down, I put her sleeping pad down too so she wouldn't have to lay on the dirt and I put the left over Milk Bone down, thinking she might enjoy a morning treat.

Sandy Dog took that crunchy biscuit in her mouth and then started walking around the area to the extent of the reach of her tie-out cable. She paced and retreated and searched the entire area. Finally, she selected a perfect spot and started digging! She dug a hole, test fitting her bone for length a couple times and then, when she was satisfied with her hole, she dropped in the treat and laboriously covered it up with dirt and twigs.

She buried her bone! Just like a real dog! It was the most curious thing I have ever seen her do. Once it was buried she seemed satisfied and went and laid down for a rest. On Sunday morning she did it again after I dug up her bone just to see if she would remember it. She repeated the previous day's search for a perfect spot and then dug a new hole and ever so carefully buried it for safekeeping.

It was really quite a remarkable performance for a tired old dog. The BSU and I had a real laugh at her wilderness camping behavior!

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