Wednesday, June 16, 2010

Abby Rolling on Dead Animals

(Abby rolling on her back and sliding down the hill. It must have been fun for her and it helped to scratch her back.)

Not everything Abby did was sweet, cute or precious. She and she alone among our dogs, had a habit of rolling around on dead animals. I don’t mean freshly deceased animals either. I mean a rotten mass of putrefied flesh unrecognizable to the naked eye. She would lie on her back and roll back and forth side to side. I usually wasn’t aware she had done this until she had come back inside. The odor was rank and disgusting almost invoking a gag reflex it was so vile. Once I smelled the dead-animal smell, I would immediately take her to the garden house out back or the shower in the master bedroom and give her a thorough washing. Normally, I could see the remnants of the dead animal that had rubbed off on her during her rolling around.

I always wanted to know why dogs did this, and in preparation for this entry, I searched about dogs rolling on dead animals. Apparently this is such a widespread behavior that when I had typed out “dogs rol”, Google had already guessed what I was talking about and a dropdown box appeared showing “dogs rolling in dead animals”. Animal behavior experts who have done extensive observations on wolves say that wolves do it to mask their smell in the wild. Since dogs are descendants of wolves, they speculate that this trait has been passed down to present day dogs, and that dogs , too, are trying to mask their smell.

The obvious remedy to this problem would be to have not allowed Abby to roll around on the ground. Sure I could have done that, but an overwhelming majority of the time, she did not roll around on a dead animal. Since Abby seemed to have so much fun lying on her back and sliding down the hill, I didn’t have the heart to stop her from doing this. I did have to be vigilant about where she was rolling. A few times, I caught her after she spotted a dead animal but before she plopped down and rolled on it. In these case she tipped her hand with her expressive looks which turned to my advantage. I could see that brow wrinkled in curiosity and her ears drooping down in her gaze at the dead animal. In these moments she would pout at me for scolding her and making her go inside. Then I’d have to go back out by myself and scoop up the dead animal with a shovel and put it somewhere across the street well beyond Abby’s reach.

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