SalemNews.com, Salem, MA

February 22, 2013

Pup loves 'burying' socks in cushions

Ask Dog Lady
Monica Collins

---- — Q: My little Gizmo was an abandoned terrier mix. She came into the shelter with ticks, tapeworm, whipworm and a burn. She also had a sore on her leg and was underweight. As I looked around the shelter and saw the little shaky dog, I fell in love with her. She is the joy in my life and is the best little dog in the world. She never did any messes in the house nor tore up anything. She enjoys carrying one or two or even three socks or slippers in her mouth and whimpers as she tries to “bury” them in her bed or the couch. She even pushes imaginary dirt over them. She is 5 years old. Do you know why she does this?

A: Over years writing this column and delving into the magical thinking of dogs, Dog Lady has concluded that when they do quirky things such as carrying nightgowns, dancing around food or letting out a happy yowl when you enter the room, they celebrate life. They’re not worrying about predators, sickness, ill health, hunger or any of the immediate fears inherent in their species; they are merely going to their happy place. In dogs, this comes out as primitive behavior that brings them joy — such as pushing imaginary dirt over a couple of socks buried in the couch. Gizmo acts out the rituals of her ancestors because she’s completely comfortable to be a dog. You have made her secure. She does not feel abandoned, unloved or unwanted.

Q: We recently put a deposit down on a puppy that is a Pekingese/Pomeranian. She turned 8 weeks old two days before Christmas. We have two little girls — ages 2 and 6. I am a stay-at-home mom, so the pup will not ever be alone and will constantly be around the 2-year-old. A lot of things I have read say that the Pekingese is going to bite my daughter. I am obviously concerned. My dad did make a point that, since we are getting the puppy so young, she will grow up around the girls and it shouldn’t be a problem. Any ideas?

A: If you read things suggesting the Pekingese would bite your daughter, why did you decide to bring this variety of dog into your home? You did the right thing by researching but maybe the wrong thing by ignoring research suggesting the dog might not do well with small children.

Your dad, however, does make a wise point about the dog growing up with your kids. Because all the creatures will be raised together, this surely will cement the bond and ease the strains. However, please be vigilant and never leave the dog and your youngest daughter alone until you are 100 percent confident they will peacefully coexist. You must train your child to get along with the dog as surely as you must train the pup to do likewise.

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Monica Collins offers advice on dogs, life and love. Follow the “Ask Dog Lady” fan page on Facebook; Twitter at @askdoglady. Email questions to askdoglady@gmail.com.