Dogs don’t always answer calls

Published 12:00 am Saturday, April 27, 2013

When I stuck my head out the door and shouted “Sadie,” my daughter’s min-pin (miniature pinscher) shot across the back yard and bounded up the steps in a flash. Her prompt response to my call both surprised and delighted me. The three dachshunds that owned my husband and me through the years kept so busy poking their noses in the ground or into bushes that they often ignored my calls.

When our second dachshund was a puppy, she loved exploring our fenced-in front yard. One day when I called her, she was standing close to a bush. She ran a few feet away from it, and then raced back. I had interrupted some household chore to call her in, so I just went back to what I was doing and forgot about her. Suddenly I heard her yip a few times. She stood at the same spot, tossing dirt here and there, digging furiously. She backed up, wagged her tail, and resumed digging. Aware of dachshunds’ inclination for tracking, I figured that she was on the trail of a mole, a grub worm or something else she fancied. It didn’t concern me at first. But when I called again and she refused to leave, I noticed that her head disappeared during several passes she made at a hole under some roots. I decided to check on her.

My presence gave the lively puppy encouragement and she flew at the hole with renewed energy. She would pop out, wag her tail a little, poke a paw in the hole and jerk back. I had never seen a snake in the yard, but I suspected she was after one. Cautiously I picked up a thick, long stick and tried to poke it in the hole, trembling a little as I did so.

Urged on by my feigned bravery, the pup began digging in a new spot that caused a little cave-in. I screamed and jumped back as I saw a pencil thin creature with stripes running long ways on its body slither from the hole. It wiggled under the fence a few feet away and then raised its head up a few inches before it moved on as if to say, “I sure outsmarted you and that dumb dog.”

The pup continued digging for a few seconds, then sensed its prey had left and tracked it to the fence. She barked and stood staring in the direction where the snake disappeared. I went inside and pulled a book from a shelf. I found a picture of the little reptile that had caused the commotion—a ribbon snake.

When I related the story to my husband, he laughed at how hard the pup had worked, yet missed seeing the snake slither away. It confirmed his opinion that her brain was located at the end of her tail.

Other times she ignored my calls as she spotted a turtle outside the fence and chased a frog that emerged from under some magnolia leaves.