After All These Years, He’s Still Puzzled at How a Dog’s Mind Works

By Joe Darby

joedarbyA dog’s mind, like ours, may be a terrible thing to waste.  But I’m darned if I can figure out how they arrive at some of the decisions that they make.

Are they even aware of the fact that they’ve made a decision or a choice?  Or is it some hidden instinct that drives them to do what we may consider odd things.

Take my great little rat terrier, Mosby.  No, not literally.   I don’t want you to take him.  But our gutsy little guy has medical problems which cause a cough that can be alleviated through medications.

At first, he was glad to take his pills wrapped in rolled up cheese balls.  Then he started refusing those and Mary, his primary care taker, had to force the pills down his throat.

Then she tried a substance supplied by vets.  You’re supposed to cover the pills in the substance and your dog should want to wolf it down, with gusto.  Well, Mosby didn’t think so.  Now these meds are vital to his health, to his life in fact, so some solution had to be found.

One day Mary picked up Mosby and placed him to her left in her favorite green chair.  She offered the substance-covered pill to the little rat terrier and he all but snatched it from her hand, looking around to see if she had another.

Mary subsequently tried to give Mo his pill with him just standing on the floor, but, no way would he go for that.  It had to be in the green chair.  And once or twice Mary put him to the right of her but Mosby realized that side just wasn’t proper.  He had to be on the left to take his med.

We took a little trip for Mother’s Day weekend and while we were gone we called our faithful pet sitter to see how he was doing.  The entire three-dog pack was fine, she said,  but she was having a terrible time getting Mosby to take his pills.

So Mary told Erin the secret, emphasizing for her to make sure Mosby was on her left side when offered the medicine.  Sure enough, when we checked the next day, Erin said all was well and Mo had followed out the strange little routine that he had designed for himself.

Now, I am rather amazed that this odd method, and no other, is insisted on by little Mo to get his pills.  If only we could ask him to explain his reasons it would be great.  And though he is pretty good about letting us know his needs, he remains silent on his method of taking his medicine.

Some years back another one of our favorite dogs developed a strange quirk, similar to though not quite as elaborate as Mosby’s.  Belle was a very sweet pointer mix and she loved to rest and stretch out on “Papa’s” lap.  But, like Mosby, she had to jump up in my recliner from the left side only.  To test her, I blocked my left side and practically begged her to jump up on the right side of the chair.

Well, she’d just sit right down and look at me as if to say, “Come, on, Papa.  Do this right.  You know the rules.”

Of course she had taught me the rules and taught me well, so naturally I gave in to her inner need to jump into my chair just the way she wanted to.

Oh, here’s another quirk of Mosby’s.  When we open the back door for the pack to run out and play or do their business, Kate, the cocker mix, and Bea, a beagle-basset combination, dash out barking, racing to see who can reach the back fence first.

But not Mosby.  He always, and I mean always, has to stop at Bea’s feeding dish to munch a bite or two, whether he’s hungry or not.  Only after he’s partaken of his fast food needs, does he go outside with his “sisters.”  If her bowl is completely empty or if it’s been picked up and put on the counter, he seems to get confused for a moment then realizes there’s nothing for him to do but go outside without raiding Bea’s supper.

Now I can see some rationality behind this behavior.  He’s taking advantage of Bea’s absence to steal a little grub.  But the behavior is so compulsive, it is rather funny to watch.

I could probably think of lots more quirky behaviors from all the dogs I’ve had but space precludes me from writing about them now.  In the meantime, watch your canine carefully.  I bet a dollar to a donut you will see some strange and funny antics.

One thought on “After All These Years, He’s Still Puzzled at How a Dog’s Mind Works

  1. Yep, it’s funny how their minds work, but it’s their rules we follow. I wouldn’t change a thing about my Calleigh.

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