This blog is for aboriginal breed enthusiasts. It is part of the INDog Project www.indog.co.in. Only INDogs (Indian Pariah) and INDog-mix mongrels are featured here. The two are NOT the same, do please read the text on the right to understand the difference. Our aim: to create awareness about the primitive natural breed called the Indian Pariah Dog/INDog. I sometimes feature other landrace breeds too.
Sunday, November 1, 2009
Here is Yvonne's account of what happened:
Walking along the beach early this morning, Leela, Rishi and I came across a dead seal that had washed up on the beach overnight. I quickly put Leela's leash back on because I wasn't sure how they would react or whether Rishi (with his very high prey drive) would want to fight over it and he wouldn't come near me to put his leash on.
The most fascinating thing transpired.
Leela very gently and gingerly circled the seal and I thought it best that she at least investigate but if she thought of taking a bite I could get hold of her leash and move her away. That is not at all what happened. She became very serious and immediately began systematically covering the seal with sand.
Rishi stayed on the periphery and the dynamic between them was very very different. He didn't come close nor did he investigate. Instead he began to play with and bark at a piece of pineapple in the waves.
You can see Leela burying the seal. There was no hint whatsoever that this seal was food.
She made very sure to cover the seal's glassy eyes.
Every now and then she would nudge the body with her nose and then cover it again.
Rishi continued to bark at his pineapple.
When she was done she simply left and appeared content that she had done what she needed to. It was a sacred moment for all!!
I have observed it with numerous other seals that have washed up since. Leela appears very concerned, prods them, tries to roll them over, whimpering as if it is her own puppy that has died. Same this weekend when a baby seal washed up. It was still so perfect, very thin though, and she sniffed it and tried to 'get it to live' and when she realized it was dead she started covering it with sand again.
Rishi as usual kept his respectful distance. If it was any kind of prey for them, he would try to get in there first and own it and/or run away with it.
Maybe because a seal is so much like a dog? They do try and chase and play with the ones having fun in the shallow waves. I put them on leash because the seals will bite them badly!! They both love to eat dead crabs and fish, but leave the deceased penguins be.
Yvonne de Kock
Rajashree's note: I think incidents like this show us what a vast gap there is in our knowledge of animal consciousness. This is a topic that has hardly been researched. The scientific community constantly warns us not to "anthropomorphize" animals or jump to sentimental conclusions about them, and to a large extent I agree. But I can't quite go with the commonly held belief that non-human animals have no concept of death. Here is an interesting New Scientist blog on this topic.
Incidentally, I also believe most human behaviour is instinctive or emotional, and not based on rational "human" thought, so the gulf between us and other animals isn't all that huge - but that's a different topic and doesn't belong in this blog.
If you have ever witnessed anything similar to this incident, or if you can shed any light on this behaviour, please write in or post a comment here.