One thing I’ve learned very well in my decades as a dog owner is that dogs thrive on routine. Most of my dogs’ routines revolve around our routines and actions, but the ones I marvel about the most are the ones that they create on their own.
Every night Tink jumps up on our bed, roots around under my pillow, locates her hedgehog dog toy and chews it for about 5 min before putting it gently aside and rolling over to go to sleep. The hedgehog is known as Hedgie and was passed down to Jackson and Tinkerbell from my late German Shorthaired Pointer Dutch. Back when Tink was younger she would have chewed Hedgie for hours, so I started taking it away from her after just a few minutes and stashing it under my pillow so she would wake me up if she tried to take it.
Two weeks ago Tink was spayed and Jackson neutered on the same day. Rather than have two different periods of kennel rest and recovery I figured we might as well get it all out-of-the-way at once. For a week and a half both dogs slept in our bedroom in their upstairs crates as part of post-surgical kennel rest. At some point during that period Hedgie fell behind our bed in a hard to reach place. I could see him but it would take lots of stretching, shimmying and creative usage of hangers to get to it.
Four nights ago we let the dogs sleep freely out of their crates. Tinkerbell jumped on the bed, searched for Hedgie but could not find him. She finally gave up and laid down by my feet but did not cooperate by going to sleep. She stared at me, she tried to chew the fleece blanket on our bed, she jumped off the bed, back onto the bed, and back down again and would not curl up and sleep. After a few minutes she jumped down and nudged the door of her crate open, walked in and curled up to sleep. The next three nights she did the exact same thing. I assumed she had just become used to her crate after the week of kennel rest.
Last night I finally took a moment to maneuver myself under the bed to grab Hedgie. She watched my actions with intense interest, standing over me with her cheek against my cheek as I stretched across the floor under the bed and reached in with a hanger to get the wayward toy. Somehow she knew exactly what I was doing.
As soon as Hedgie was successfully rescued I handed it to her. She jumped up on the bed, happily chewed it for five minutes, then rolled over on her side and started to fall asleep. She lifted her head to watch me put Hedgie under my pillow and then went back to sleep. She was still on our bed when I woke up this morning.