Random Musings on Dogs, Photography, and the Vagaries of Life

Monday, July 19, 2010

I Dig Dogs, and Dogs...Dig

Next stop, China! Well, not literally, although given the effort some dogs put into digging holes, we in North America could be forgiven for thinking that China is their ultimate goal. But if destination isn't the motivation, what is? Why, in short, do dogs dig?

According to experts, dogs dig for a variety of reasons ranging from predation to boredom to storing leftovers. Specifically, dogs dig because they are:

Hunting. Let’s face it, dogs are—or were—predators, and the ground is a treasure trove of bugs, mice, voles, and other prey just waiting to be unearthed.

Storing toys or food. In the wild, predators, including dogs, often bury animal remains they don't consume right away. This instinct to bury objects of value for later remains in some dogs.

Keeping comfortable. For some dogs, a hole is the perfect place to chill on a hot summer day or stay warm on cold winter afternoon.

Trying to escape. Faced with an irresistible temptation on the other side of a fence, a dog may dig his way to freedom...and the object of his desire.

Bored. A dog left home all day with no toys and nothing better to do may while away the time by digging a hole...because she can.

And sometimes dogs just like to dig. Soil provides a veritable cornucopia of wonderful (from a dog’s perspective) smells, as well as trash tidbits and smelly dead animals to chew or roll in. The smell of recently fertilized soil, in particular, can be irresistible to some dogs. Some breeds, like terriers and Labradors, are very prone to digging.

From the human point of view, digging can be a less-than-positive trait, and one that leads to a variety of creative attempts to limit the behavior. A former colleague of mine, for example, grew up with a beagle that dug under the fence so often that the family had a three-foot-deep, concrete-filled trench installed around the perimeter of the yard. And my husband’s parents would put a brick in every hole their dog dug the yard. I wonder what later owners of the home thought when they unearthed random bricks when doing yard work.

Our dog Ceiligh has invented her own digging-related game, which she also "taught" to our most recent foster, Ghillie (seen in the photos below). It involves digging a hole, dropping a ball or toy into it, then digging the object out again, repeating the process over...and over...and over again.

So much for our attempts to grow grass this year.

Tuesday, July 6, 2010

A is for Angel

Meet Angel, the "cover girl" of my current book, A is for Angel: A Dog Lover's Guide to the Alphabet. A former foster puppy of my husband's and mine, Angel was adopted by a wonderful family that adores her.

I thought you might enjoy reading her "story" as it appears in the book:

My son, Andrew, had been asking for a dog for awhile, and my wife and I finally decided the time was right. We thought a dog would give Andrew companionship and, at 12, we felt he was ready to share the responsibility of raising a puppy. Plus, we all wanted to experience what none of us had ever really had...a true pet.

We were looking for a Keeshond or Keeshond mix because of the breed’s temperament, mild nature, and ability to have fun with kids. We also liked the idea of giving an orphaned puppy a home, so Andrew began checking Petfinder. Once he found Angel’s picture, we immediately made plans to meet her.

Angel is just what we were looking for. She is sweet, rarely barks, is always wagging her tail, and seems to love everyone...even the UPS man and the mailman, who both take time to play with her and pet her whenever they come by. She’s also very pretty with a beautiful coat that my wife loves to brush.

Angel’s joys in life are chasing the squirrels and deer that visit our yard, running outside the house with Andrew and his cousins, and especially playing with her furry squeaky toys. She’s particularly fond of one shaped like a bone that’s about 12 inches long and 4 inches wide. When Ava, our toddler, plays with her own squeaky toys or a toy is squeaked during a TV program, Angel rushes around to check if it’s hers!

In addition to knowing how to sit, lie down, and cry to go outside, Angel has discovered that if she taps her water bowl when it’s empty, someone will fill it. Obviously, she has us well trained. All in all, she’s just a super dog to be around. Andrew is always looking out for her and has learned some great "life lessons" thanks to her being part of our family.

She truly is our angel.

--R. Bailey

If you're interested in seeing more photos and reading more stories about some wonderful, loved dogs, you can get a copy of A is for Angel: A Dog Lover's Guide to the Alphabet by sending $17.12 (including shipping in the continental US) to digitaldoggyphotography@gmail.com via Paypal. I donate 50 percent of my direct-sale profits to selected animal rescue and welfare organizations.