by Pattie Barnes
My Rott is 4 years old. He very much loves to play. A woodpecker crash into our large picture window and crash landed on the deck. After a couple of quivers he was gone. Khan witnessed the death of the bird. I pushed the bird into my flower bed below and buried him.
A few hours later Khan went outside and dug up the bird…took him out in the yard and proceeded to give him a proper burial. He didn’t really dig a hole, he just laid him in a low spot and pushed dirt over him with his nose – patting down the dirt with his muzzle as he buried it. After a bit he was satisfied and left the bird buried.
What was that behavior? Was he really just giving the woodpecker a proper burial?
It would be nice to think that Khan really did have feelings for the bird and that he wanted it buried properly (and of course, anything is possible, there’s still so much we don’t know about the world around us).
However, dogs are descended from wolves and I’m much more inclined to think that Khan had a more basic instinct that was guiding his behavior. Chances are something made him want to put this bird somewhere safe and ‘save it for later’… with a meal in mind!
We own a wolf-hybrid who is a wonderful ‘dog’, but he is a hunter. Luckily we live out in the country and there are plenty of wild things for him to catch when the mood strikes. If he does kill something, he will eat some of it and then bury the rest – sort of like leftovers in the fridge I think. He’s well fed by us so he’s not doing this for food, he’s doing it because it’s his natural instinct in play.
He will then go back to his kill off and on over the next few days for a snack or to play with it. I know it sounds terrible, but it’s totally natural and over the years we’ve owned him we have gotten used to this.
Now, I’m not saying for sure that Khan had the same idea in mind, and if he did it would be purely instinctive. He didn’t try to eat the woodpecker so he wasn’t motivated by a desire for food… simply instinct hard-wired in his brain somewhere.
But this is just my guess, as I said earlier there are so many things about the natural world that we don’t understand, and dogs are very intuitive creatures. We’ll never know exactly why Khan did what he did I’m afraid.