How could it be natural for a white tailed deer to be walking down the sidewalk in Banff last month?  Simple.  There are lots of bushes in town, bushes with tender, tasty leaves.  There’s little competition for the food supply.  Most important, there are no predators in town, so one can munch in peace.

Tracing behaviors backwards, even silly looking acts will link back to survival, the most essential element in Mother Nature’s grand and glorious plan.  The oddest query ever got – or at least the oddest query I can write about – was about a Borzoi who turned on the tap in the kitchen whenever his people went out.  His bowl was filled with fresh water, so it wasn’t that he was thirsty.  And while this was a question at a seminar and I never met the dog himself, my best guess is that the running water helped the Borzoi to survive.  It made the house sound more like the way it did when his family was home, thus lowering his anxiety level and allowing him to rest comfortably until it was time to go out and play.

My cat Sasha, a pet I had when I was in college, would get into a suitcase and hide under the clothes, hoping not to be found and ousted.  Once, when I went away for a weekend, the person who promised to feed him didn’t.  Sasha was left alone and without food for three days.  For survival’s sake, he never planned to let that happen again. (Nor did i!)

Our rescue dog Monk knows all the little things we do before leaving the house.  Even after several years, he doesn’t particularly like living in a busy, noisy city.  So if I put on my watch or Steve starts to put on his shoes and socks, Monk darts under the bed.  And while he usually comes running when we call, “All dogs come,” wagging his tail and waiting to be dressed for his walk, his first instinct, the one that says it’s dangerous out there, inspires him to hide first.

Survival.  After all, what is there without it?

When you are stumped by something odd, something nutty, your dog does, peel the onion.  Take off layer after layer until you find the reason for the activity, the connection to survival.  It’s a powerful motivation and no matter how covered up it may seem to be, it’s almost always there.