Oliver was found as a stray after he refused to leave a family’s backyard in Memphis, Tennessee. Animal control officers went to collect him, but every time one of them got close to him, he would jump over the fence and out of the yard, as if it was a game. They finally had to set up a humane trap in order to catch him, and brought him to Memphis Animal Services.
From the moment Oliver arrived, his new shelter friends could tell that he’d likely had a home or someone taking care of him at some point. He was very smart and absolutely loved food and treats, and knew that if he listened and was well-behaved, he would be showered with them.
“I met him the first day he came in, and he sat for me immediately before I even showed him I had treats,” Katie Pemberton, community engagement specialist at Memphis Animal Services, told The Dodo. “Then, of course, as soon as the treats came out, he was even more eager to sit. The more he got to know me, the more he would press himself up against the bars of his kennels to let me pet him.”
Oliver loved food so much that he quickly became very attached to his food bowl — and started carrying it around with him wherever he went.
“The very first night he got here, our field supervisor passed by his kennel in our ACO intake room and noticed him with his bowl in his mouth,” Pemberton said. “His cute trick was very effective because she gave him more food! Then when he moved to his permanent kennel, he kept doing it. He had his bowl in his mouth most of the time.”
It’s possible that someone from his past taught Oliver to pick up his food bowl as a fun little trick. It’s also possible that he’d been without food at one point, and was worried if he lost sight of his food bowl, he might not get fed again.