Although I'm officially on leave for our summer holidays, it seems my dogs are still teaching me lessons I should have learned by now. Rosie thought she'd slip this one in today as a last lesson for the year "If your dog is doing something unusual, there's probably a good reason!"
I really should know this already. Rosie is the queen of scratching on the couch to let me know a treat is lodged under there, which she can't get at - I used to have a cursory look and, seeing nothing, would tell her to stop being silly. However experience has taught me that if she does this there IS DEFINITELY something there and the furniture will need to be moved so she can get it and show me she was right. Just yesterday, she started scratching on the couch and low and behold, when I had a look, there was Cruz's red ball we had been searching for for over a week!
Once while walking on the beach, Rosie became unusually agitated and kept sniffing a scuffed up area of sand. I noticed there was a dog collar in the sand and picked it up to leave at the beach notice board. As I arrived there, I bumped into a neighbour who told me the collar must have belonged to one of two dogs that had just had a very serious fight on the beach (an unusual occurrence) and had been taken to the vet. I can only assume that Rosie could smell the stress hormones from these dogs in the area they had been fighting, as that would have explained her own sudden clearly anxious behaviour in that spot.
Anyway, early this morning, while swimming at our favourite reservoir, Rosie suddenly started sniffing the air and whimpering excitedly. She then began to watch every swimmer that came past us and even started trying to swim after them. This is totally unlike her - she has been visiting this swimming spot all her life and always just gets on with her own missions, fetching the ball and making up games with it at the water's edge. Rosie is used to seeing people of all shapes and sizes and never worries about anyone (unless they need to be worried about!). I couldn't understand what had triggered this sudden focus on other people, but she seemed to be searching for something or someone. Part of me was concerned she was losing her mind! Cruz gave the occasional squeak (he's generally a squeaky dog who wants to love everyone given half a chance ) but was too focused on his ball to pay much attention to Rosie's odd behaviour.
Anyway, it was time to head home, so feeling slightly alarmed about what was wrong with my dog, we packed up and headed down the path. And right there all was explained - unbeknown to us my in-laws, people Rosie rather adores, had arrived for a swim further down the dam: Rosie had smelled them and was desperate to say hello to her extended family. She wasn't going mad after all! In fact, she was behaving quite normally for Rosie, given the circumstances (Rosie is very attached to "her" people, which includes all our friends and family she has ever spent any time with) - I just wasn't aware of those circumstances - she knew something I didn't!
This was another good reminder to always consider that your dog may be aware of and reacting to things you are not aware of, because their senses are so much better than ours. Always give them the benefit of the doubt and try and find out what is bothering them, rather than dismiss it as "just being silly". I REALLY should know this by now, but I guess sometimes we all need a reminder!