Notes from the Waxhaws

Just pick a spot

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Belle has always had this strange (and rather annoying) habit of scratching away at the carpet with her front paws before she lays down…as if she was digging a hole in the dirt. I’ve heard that this is a common habit for many dogs…that they’re just, “making their bed in which to lie.”

When Belle does this, I remind her that she really doesn’t need to do that…that she needs to “just pick a spot and lie down already!”  At this point, she obediently stops…briefly looks up at me…and then puts her head back down and resumes the scratching in earnest. After about the third admonition, she finally plops down, and lets out a heavy sigh…mission accomplished.

It’s hard to imagine where this behavior is coming from. I know…it’s instinct. But how exactly is this instinct passed down from generation to generation. Belle has never…to my knowledge…ever observed another Pomeranian, or any other dog for that matter, digging a hole in the dirt before lying down. Why does she think it’s necessary? Is it in her genes then? If so…that’s even more mind boggling.

I recall reading a fascinating book many years ago by biologist Rupert Sheldrake called, The Presence of the Past: Morphic Resonance and the Habits of Nature, in which he hypothesized the presence of something called a morphic field, which is a kind of collective unconscious, or repository, of shared behaviors common to, for example, a certain species of animal. Where this morphic field exists is the even more intriguing question. I can’t help but think that Belle, who belongs to the group called dog (more specifically, Pomeranian), might somehow be tuning in to the morphic field that contains the whys and wherefores of that particular behavior in which she’s engaging.

And then this leads me to another, rather unsettling question. Are there things…behaviors…that I’m mindlessly doing, of which I have no knowledge?

Written by Jim

September 8, 2012 at 7:11 pm

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