Saturday, 2 February 2008

Hints for Lazy Dog Owners...

...that is, the owners of lazy dogs, not dog owners who are...

My Jack Russell is getting to be an old lady. Never the best lavatorially speaking, in the last few weeks catching her and putting her outside before she has left me a little puddle (or worse) has become a matter of chance. Add to that the fact that she has become a bit confused in her old age and sometimes, even if she asks to go out, by the time she gets there she seems to forget why she went out and sits there, shivering, on the doormat until I let her in again. You've guessed it - ten minutes later, I then have a little puddle (or worse) on my best carpet.

So I've been tearing my hair out. But, completely by chance, I've found a way of getting her into the garden, voluntarily and happily, for half an hour at a time, with the consequent dry carpets! We've had a particularly cold spell this week and I was running low on my usual seed mix that I put out for the birds. So I took a couple of slices of bread and scattered it about the garden for them instead. Initially I was irritated when the dog immediately started hoovering the damn stuff up. But as the mintes passed, I realised that she was snuffling happily about the garden, ranging far from the back door, tail up, nose down. And I realised that I had found a solution to our problems. I believe animal keepers in zoos and wildlife parks do this kind of environment enrichment but it hadn't occurred to me that it would work so well with my mad little dog.

I can highly recommend it. At the worst, she eats a little more - though the birds still get a good proportion of it, and I can always reduce her proper food to make up for it. But what I'm hoping is that she will get into the habit of exploring the garden and that I will be able to put out less bread each time. It's great! She gets a bit more excitement and interest in her life, I get dry floors. Nice to get a result on a gloomy day.

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