Dog insists on burying his orange toys


Last updated 2/19/2020 at 3:04pm

Dear Cathy,

I am having a problem with my terrier who has many toys but insists on burying both of his orange toys. When I dig them up in the yard, he seems sad and embarrassed. This has been going on for several years.

Is there any explanation for this? I have been asking around about this, but so far no one has been able to explain this behavior.

- Ann Marie, Fort Lauderdale, Florida

Dear Ann Marie,

Dogs generally bury things they covet and want to save for later, such as food or a bone. He may have a special affinity for these toys and just not want anyone else to have access to them. Maybe they give off a strange scent he finds offensive, and so he buries them. It's hard for us to know. It's most likely a coincidence the toys are both orange, but you could buy a third orange toy to see what he would do.

The sad behavior he exhibits when you dig up his toys is more likely the realization that he will have to bury them again. Don't dig up his toys for the next month and see what he does. If he leaves them in the ground, humor him and then leave them in the ground, too. He obviously finds some comfort in keeping them there.

Dear Cathy,

I want to get a houseplant for my kitchen table that will not poison my cat. The vet gave me a list of plants that are not compatible with cats. I gave the list to the local florist who said that every plant that they can order from their wholesaler is on the list.

To approach this from the positive side, do you have a list of houseplants that are suitable around cats? Is there any way to find out which of those plants will do best in direct sunlight because I want the plant to be near a south-facing window? The florists that I contacted all wanted me to tell them which plant I wanted rather than research cat-friendly plants that do best in the direct sunlight.

- Douglas, via email

Dear Douglas,

You can find a comprehensive list of plants that are toxic and non-toxic at the ASPCA's website -- Check out the nontoxic list for your needs. A few plants that are fine around cats and that can tolerate light from a south-facing window include bamboo and spider plants and several herbs, including catnip, rosemary, sage and basil.

While I have some knowledge about plants, I am far from an expert on this topic. Take the non-toxic list to your local nursery/garden center rather than the florist. They should be able to guide you and tell you which plants on your cat-friendly list are best suited for sunlight.

Dear Cathy,

We recently had to put down our much loved 15-year-old Lab. We are all beyond heartbroken and having a very hard time dealing with this loss. Maggie was a huge part of our family.

Do you have any advice on how to deal with this loss and the horrible guilt of having to put her put down?

- Patti, South Beach, New York

Dear Patti,

I am very sorry for your loss. Because Maggie was such an important part of your daily life, you are confronted with her absence many times throughout the day. It sounds as though Maggie had a happy life and you should feel absolutely no guilt for putting her down, especially if her quality of life had decreased.

As for handling the grief, I find adding rituals can help better compartmentalize some of the grief. For example, if you bury her or cremate her and spread her ashes somewhere, you could read a prayer or poem to mark the occasion. I often light long-lasting candles the first week of the loss to remind myself of the soul that left. I know people who have put together photo albums and scrapbooks of their pets after they are gone as a reminder of the happy times they shared together.

If the grief overwhelms you, though, as it can for many people, find a therapist or a pet-loss support group. Meeting with other people who have experienced the same loss can help you through the grieving process. If there are no pet-loss support groups in your area, then start one yourself. There are many people who have lost pets who likely would want help with grief.

There is no timetable for grief, so be kind and patient with yourself.


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