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April 18, 2014

Ask Dog Lady: Why is my dog fascinated with burying things?

Dear Dog Lady,

My dog came across a dead cat at the park and proceeded to bury the cat with surrounding leaves by using her nose and pushing the leaves over the dead cat. Two days later, we went back to the park, and she found the dead cat again and proceeded to cover it with leaves again even though it was still covered from the last time. She does this with treats in our house, only she uses her nose to go through the motion of burying her treat. Did she bury the cat to save for a treat later or did she bury the cat out of sympathy (which is what I prefer to think). She is a 2-year-old Norwich terrier.

A: How tempting it is to romanticize these critters in our midst. And it’s nice to imagine your Norwich terrier covers up the cat with a blanket of leaves because the dog feels sympathy for the deceased. Not quite.

In truth, the instinct to bury is primal in terriers with intense “go to ground” predispositions. And a dead cat? The quarry is the ultimate “catch” for these creatures — and how nice that it came, ahem, predisposed. Your Norwich (this breed is an impossibly adorable amalgam of squatness and determination) buries and re-buries because she hopes to keep other critters away. The leafy dead cat bier is the most fascinating thing in her life right now — up there with the treat she buried in the couch cushion.

Dear Dog Lady,

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?

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