9 FEBRUARY 1895, Page 18


[To TEE EDITOR 01 7'81 "SPISCIATOR."] SIR,—I think I can explain the puzzle of the Scotch terrier and his interment of the frogs, for the satisfaction of your correspondent. A friend of mine had once a retriever who was stung by a bee, and ever afterwards, when the dog found a bee near the ground, she stamped on it, and then scraped earth over it and buried it effectually,—presumably to put an end to the danger of further stings. In like manner, another dog having bitten a toad, showed every sign of having found the mouthful to the last degree unpleasant. Probably Mr. Acland-Troyte's dog had, in the same way, bitten a toad, and conceived henceforth that he rendered public service by putting every toad-like creature he saw carefully and gingerly "out of harm's way," underground.

A great number of the buryings and other odd tricks of dogs must, however, I am sure, be considered as Atavism, and traced to the instincts bequeathed by their remote pro- genitors when yet "wild in the woods the noble beastie ran." Such, I believe, is generally admitted to be the explanation of the universal habit of every dog before lying down to turn round two or three times and scratch its intending bed— even when that bed is of the softest woollen or silk—appa- rently to ascertain that no snakes or thorns lurk in its sleeping-place.

A dog which I once possessed exhibited such reversion to ancestral habits in a noteworthy way. She was a beautiful white Pomeranian ; and when a litter of puppies was im- pending, on one occasion she scratched an enormous hole in oar back-garden in South Kensington, where her leisure hours were passed,—a hole like the burrow of a fox. It was not in the least of the character of the ordinary circular punch-bowl so often scooped out by idle or impatient dogs, but a long, deep channel running at a sharp angle a consider- able way underground. Obviously, it was Yama's ' convic- tion that it was her maternal duty to provide shelter for her expected offspring, precisely as a fox or rabbit must feel it, and as we may suppose her own ancestresses did on the shores of the Baltic some thousand generations ago. When the puppies were born, Yama ' and the survivor were established by me in a most comfortable kennel in the same garden, with a day nursery and a night nursery (covered and open) for the comfort and safety of the puppy. But one fine morning, when the little creature had begun to crawl over the inclosure of its small domain, I happened to go into the garden while Yama ' was absent in the house, and discovered that my little friend was missing. The puppy had disappeared altogether ; and at the same time I noticed that the flower-bed in which Yams,' had made her excavation had been nicely smoothed over by the gardener, who was putting the place in order. A suspicion instantly seized me, and I exclaimed, "You have buried my puppy !" I ran to the spot where the hole had been made, and having swept aside the gardener's spadeful of soil, found the deeper part of the hole, running slanting underground, still open. I knelt down and thrust in my arm to its fullest stretch, and then, at the very end of the hole, my fingers encountered a little soft, warm, fluffy ball. The puppy came out quite happy and uninjured, freshly awakened from sleep, having shown that his instinct recognised the anita.bility of holes in the ground for the accommodation of puppies; just as the hereditary instinct of his mother had led her to prepare one for him, even in a South Kensington