We can hear him going at it, even though we’re in the kitchen. Scratch-scratch-scratch-scratch! That’s Kemba, scuffing at the large, flat cushion on the living room couch, as if he were in the dog park, pawing dirt or grass. Next, he’ll frantically circle that same cushion (you’ve seen dogs chasing their tail? just like that!), surveying, it would seem, for the perfect landing spot.
Apparently, neither of these behaviors is at all unique. According to an article on the Dogster website, before dogs had cushy beds of their own from Orvis, Furhaven, and Earth Animal,
“circling was a means of establishing both safety and comfort. In nature, circling a chosen spot is one method dogs employ to ensure the exclusivity of their sleeping place.” And the scratching? That, according to the author, “may serve a similar function, physically marking and claiming a spot. Dogs are just as much creatures of habit as we are. I’ve seen my own dogs rehearse the entire pattern: scratch, circle, and rest.”
So, yes, Kemba does the scratch and circle. But he’s not nearly ready to rest. In fact, the bulk of his couch renovation work is still ahead of him. First, he’ll knock pillow #1 to the floor. Followed by pillow #2. And #3. Then, a brief pause to catch his breath — because now comes the hard part. He has to gather his energy and nudge the large backrest cushions up over the top of
the couch. He uses his versatile snout for this portion of the job. It takes him a few tries, but eventually — Tim-ber! — over the cushion goes, crashing to the floor behind the couch, landing next to the Fiddle Leaf Fig plant. Now he can curl up in
the cozy nest he’s created at the corner of the couch for some well-deserved shut-eye. Another job well done by Kemba’s Interiors.
Now if Carol happens to walk in on him during his decorating process, she’ll screech, “KEMBA! STOP! You’ll rip the fabric! You’re not on the beach!”
If I, on the other hand, walk in, I’ll let him go about his business. For two reasons. (1) Who wants pillows on the couch? Not me, that’s for sure. (2) As I’m sure you’ve noticed by now, my method of training Kemba is to let him do pretty much whatever he pleases.