I didn’t hear back from the vet today about Toby’s newest lump, so now I’ll need to wait until Thursday when the good doc is back at work. (It seems like waiting is becoming my new pastime.) In the meantime, I wanted to tell you a story about my
little devil sweet angel Toby.
Certain friends and family members, (they know who they are), attest that Toby is NOT as bad as I say he is, because he is always well behaved in their presence. I’m not surprised, because Toby loves to make a liar out of me in public. In the past, I’ve often contacted a trainer, (he’s been to 12 of them you know), described to them just how terrible he was, and begged for help. Then I’d bring Toby in, and he’d act like an obedience champ.
But Nick and I live with him, and we know the truth.
Today, I want to talk about just one of Toby’s annoying little habits, which is digging in the yard. If you’re a regular reader, you’ve seen pictures of my yard…
It’s mostly dirt, and frankly, Nick and I don’t care. The dogs have loads of fun running and playing in it, and we’ve never been able to get anything other than weeds to grow, so we gave up on the dream of a lawn. We even (gasp) allow the dogs to dig….but only in assigned digging spots.
When we catch a dog digging where we don’t want them to, we tell them “No,” and then we bring them to a spot where they are allowed to dig, kick some dirt around with our feet, and tell them to have a blast. And the girls picked up on this quite easily.
He wants to dig alongside the foundation of our house and too close to our fence for comfort. Not that he’s trying to escape – he actually digs straight down – but we have enough problems with feral cats leaving us “presents” that we don’t need to build them an entrance way. Yet no matter how many times we redirect Toby, (this habit has been going on for years), he returns to his favorite spots and goes to town.
We’ve also tried distractions, like throwing his favorite toy, and we’ve tried calling him away and then rewarding him, but Toby figured that one out real fast.
I see. If I dig, I get a cookie. Great game.
In desperation, we even went against our ideals and tried (another gasp) punishment. Yup – I admit it, we’ve tried leashing Toby and stopping him from enjoying playtime on days when he Just. Won’t. Quit. Aren’t we harsh? Oh, and we’ve tried verbal reprimands too – usually in a string of curses coming from Nick as he chases Toby away from a hole he just filled in.
For those who are wondering about the old trick of burying poop in the hole, that won’t work with Toby. He views poop like most of us view pizza – just as savory when it’s fresh and steamy as it is when eaten as a cold leftover snack, and just as tasty in the evening as it is first thing in the morning. Even if it’s covered in dirt. Or cat litter, for that matter.
And when redirecting, distracting, rewarding, punishment, and reprimanding don’t work – you are left with management…so Nick and I tried barricading the areas we don’t want Toby excavating, like this:
Yet he STILL digs:
The thing I’ve noticed about these dig spots is that they are all in the shade…and after Toby digs, he generally likes to lay in the cool earth…
Giving him the benefit of the doubt, I insisted to Nick that Toby is not trying to be a pain in his rear, and that my dog is just hot.
My solution? Find a nice shady spot under a bush:
And stick a dog bed under it:
Do you think it worked?
Have you met Simon, a special soul searching for his forever home since 2010?