Saturday, January 21, 2012

Hiding the Body

Ivan has been exhibiting survival behavior handed down from his ancestors in the wild. Some of those instinctual behaviors surely brought Basenjis through countless perils and hardships, allowed them to smile at adversity and live to baroo another day. For Ivan, a modern Basenji living in small town USA, this behavior is exhibited by burying things in the couch. (Ivan doesn’t like to get his feet dirty, and besides, toys are not allowed outside, therefore, in his mind the couch is the logical hiding place.)

Ivan was an only child for a few months after we adopted him. Then fate stepped in, but that’s a story for another day. When Ivan was an only child, he had big rolls of US rawhide scattered around the house. He would periodically decide he needed to hide these. He situated them in the corner of the couch and elaborately pantomimed burying the chewies under imaginary dirt. We always assured Ivan we’d never find his chewies there.

Ivan is food aggressive so when he acquired siblings—first Leo and then Dasa—the chewies had to disappear. There could have been dozens of chewies lying around, but if any other dog had tried to touch one, it would’ve been disastrous. So the big chewies went away, and smaller treats last only seconds, not long enough to consider hiding.

Great Aunt Mary gave the Munchkins new toys for Christmas. Ivan’s is a stuffed animal without stuffing so it looks like a pelt, albeit a soft and synthetic one. Ivan was so taken with his pelt that he tried to bury it on the couch under dog beds. It was fun to see him decide he could once again bury things that none of us, including Dasa, would find. He was very intent on his task. After he killed the toy a couple of times, shaking it and trotting circles through the house with it hanging, freshly killed, from his mouth, he jumped on the loveseat with it. This is not unusual. Ivan often snuggles into a donut bed with one of his stuffed animals.

This time, however, he dug purposely behind the stack of dog beds, finding just the right place to deposit this new toy for safe keeping. He was busy all evening, burying it and then deciding this hiding place wasn’t quite right. He’d carry it a few more laps around the house and then jump back onto the love seat to rebury it. My might hunter at last decided his pelt was safely hidden, and he could finally snuggle under a blankie with Mom.

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