Sounds send dog in search of ants

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Sal, a 5-year-old border collie, searches for and digs out fire ants in her owner's yard.

THE PET: Sal, a 5-year-old border collie

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Sal, a 5-year-old border collie, searches for and digs out fire ants in her owner's yard.  Kim Luciani/Staff
Kim Luciani/Staff
Sal, a 5-year-old border collie, searches for and digs out fire ants in her owner's yard.

THE OWNER: Diane Cox, of Blythe

THE TRICK: Triggered by a repetitious sound such as the clanging of a metal pole on a metal fence, Sal will run about searching for fire ant beds. If they are above ground, she will jump to about 4 feet in the air, then pounce mouth and arched front paws first into the mound of dirt, coming down with her mouth open, getting a mouthful of ant bed and shaking her head side to side. She then repeats. If there are no beds above ground, Sal will run about seeking out underground beds, digging in places where she suspects ant beds. Once she locates them, she repeats the pouncing and biting into the mounds. The collie does this as long as the banging continues.

HOW IT STARTED: It began a few years ago, Ms. Cox said. "We (she and a friend) were hammering in the garage, and it set her off. She started and we thought, 'What is she doing?' " she said. "We quit hammering and she quit. We started back, and there she goes."

OWNER SAYS: "She will do it all day. She puts a lot of thought into it. I've trained dogs professionally for 30 years, and I've never seen it (the pouncing process). Anybody that's been around says they've never seen it. They're like, 'Whoa, that's wild!' I don't think you'll find another dog that'll do this."

BONUS SAL TRIVIA: Ms. Cox believes Sal's behavior was passed down from her parents.

"She had puppies that do it, too. It's not a learned behavior," she said. "The puppies were taken from her at two weeks because she wasn't a good mother, and one of the puppies does it, too. He didn't grow up around her. I think it's genetics."

-- Compiled by Staff Writer Samantha McKevie


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