Ask Tom, the Dogcharmer: Rosie

The case of the missing loaf of French bread.

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Emily Pharoh

Hello Tom,

My dog Rosie is a 7-year-old Brittany spaniel. Last week, I had to be out one afternoon for about four hours (not all that unusual). I always check the counters for anything she might decide is worth eating, and remember seeing a loaf of French bread that was in a big bowl in the middle of the counter. I decided it was out of her reach and left for my errands. When I got home, the bread wrapping was on the floor and the bread was gone — or so I thought. I can’t imagine how she got it. She must have taken a flying leap through the air and caught it in her mouth, then let it go and forgot about it.

Later that night, when I was getting ready for bed, I looked at my pillows. They were quite pushed up and there was something sticking out from underneath them. It was the French bread — uneaten! I could not believe it, what was she thinking? Was she leaving me a present, stashing it for later? And mind you, there were at least six other pillows and beds for her to chose from.

I have another question, what do dogs dream about? Recently, when my dog was sound asleep, I heard a fast, loud thumping. Her tail was wagging away, she never woke up.

Thank you for your insights and your help with my training with Rosie.

Carol

 

Dear Carol,

I love this story because it exemplifies the connection we have with our furry partners, the joyful symbiosis. Every dog owner on the planet will smile at this French bread discovery. My first dog as a married adult was a pharaoh hound I used to love to tease. She would take a bone or toy and stash it under a pillow on the one couch she was allowed on. I would casually go over and find the hidden bone and pretend to express great surprise at the discovery. To my great amusement her response was to express great dismay at my having stumbled upon her hidden treasure, and then proceed to re-hide it in another obvious spot.

Once, we spent over a month camping on a beach in Nova Scotia and used to take a rowboat with Cheeta Ann (the pharaoh hound) about a half a mile across a bay to a peninsula (Hapes Point). One time on the peninsula she found a huge leg bone from a deer, which she enjoyed thoroughly until it was time to return to the campsite. She stashed it behind some driftwood of her own volition and then hopped into the row boat for the sail home.

A week or so later we were rowing back to Hapes Point and as we approached the shore, Cheeta Ann got very excited, leaped out of the boat and ran straight for the leg bone.Having completely forgotten about the hidden bone, I had no idea why she was so excited, but clearly Cheeta Ann remembered the bone with great eagerness.

Wolves will bury and hide food for later consumption, and their domesticated progeny have certainly inherited those traits, but, I think, with some added twists. Sharing homes, couches, and beds with humans is a far cry from the wolf’s ongoing relationship with we humans. A recent presidential candidate shot wolves for sport from a helicopter. We engage in all kinds of play with our dogs, and they often initiate the play, sometimes more than we want.

Rover keeps shoving the ball in your lap for more play even after you want to be done throwing it. So when it comes to hiding and burying things, the intelligent dog may get quite inventive with this hiding game vis-a-vis his human counterparts.

The bed is a very important place to a dog; it’s the inner den, the safest and most comfortable place in his/her life. And doubly so if the bed is shared with the human. So perhaps the altruistic Rosie wanted to give you this gift in what she perceived is the best spot in the world to give a gift. That’s a big “perhaps.” Perhaps, after the enormous effort of getting the bread, she knew you wouldn’t share her joy of acquisition and felt that returning it to your pillow was the best move. Perhaps she was just saving it in the best place for a midnight snack, forgetting that you’d be there.

Whatever caused Rosie to not eat the loaf and instead hide it under your pillow, it’s hilarious, and I would have probably shared a piece with her. As for her wagging tail while sound asleep, I’m reminded of a quote I read: “Dreaming permits each one of us to be quietly and safely insane every night of our lives.” I’ve seen sound-asleep dogs growl, howl, whimper, move their legs as though running, engage in all kinds doggy behavior. I guess they dream of what they relate to in their conscious and subconscious mind as we humans do.

At least they don’t sleepwalk! It makes me wonder, do insects dream? Snails? Crocodiles? My guess is Rosie is a hoot to live with — enjoy the play.

The Dog Charmer

Have a question for The Dogcharmer? Write him at dogsrshelby@msn.com.