From Anecdotes of Dogs, by Edward Jesse, Esq., London: Bell & Daldy; 1870; pp. 1-83.
A FRENCH writer has boldly affirmed, that with the exception of women there is nothing on earth so agreeable, or so necessary to the comfort of man, as the dog. This assertion may readily be disputed, but still it will be allowed that man, deprived of the companionship, 2 and services of the dog, would be a solitary, and, in many respects, a helpless being. Let us look at the shepherd, as the evening closes in and his flock is dispersed over the almost inaccessible heights of mountains; they are speedily collected by his indefatigable dog — nor do his services end here: he guards either the flock or his master’s cottage by night, and a slight caress, and the coarsest food, satisfy him for all his trouble. The dog performs the services of a horse in the more northern regions; while in Cuba and some other hot countries, he has been the scourge and terror of the runaway negroes. In the destruction of wild beasts, or the less dangerous stag, or in attacking the bull, the dog has proved himself to possess pre-eminent courage. In many instances he has died in the defence of his master. He has saved him from drowning, warned him of approaching danger, served him faithfully in poverty and distress, and if deprived of sight has gently led him about. When spoken to, he tries to hold conversation with him by the movement of his tail or the expression of his eyes. If his master wants amusement in the field or wood, he is delighted to have an opportunity of procuring it for him; if he finds himself in solitude, his dog will be a cheerful and agreeable companion, and maybe, when death comes, the last to forsake the grave of his beloved master.
There are a thousand little facts connected with dogs, which many, who do not love them as much as I 3 do, may not have observed, but which all tend to develop their character. For instance, every one knows the fondness of dogs for warmth, and that they never appear more contented than when reposing on the rug before a good fire. If, however, I quit the room; my dog leaves his warm berth, and places himself at the door, where he can the better hear my footsteps, and be ready to greet me when I re-enter. If I am preparing to take a walk, my dog is instantly aware of my intention. He frisks and jumps about, and is all eagerness to accompany me. If I am thoughtful or melancholy, he appears to sympathise with me; and, on the contrary, when I am disposed to be merry, he shows by his manner that he rejoices with me. I have often watched the effect which a change in my countenance would produce. If I frown or look severe, but without saying a word or uttering a sound, the effect is instantly seen by the ears drooping, and the eyes showing unhappiness, together with a doubtful movement of the tail. If I afterwards smile and look pleased, the tail wags joyously, the eyes are filled with delight, and the ears even are expressive of happiness. Before a dog, however, arrives at this knowledge of the human countenance, he must be the companion of your walks, repose at your feet, and receive his food from your hands: treated in this manner, the attachment of the dog is unbounded; he becomes fond, intelligent, and grateful. Whenever Stanislas, the unfortunate King of Poland, wrote to his daughter, he always concluded 4 his letter with these words — “Tristan, my companion in misfortune, licks your feet:” thus showing that he had still one friend who stuck to him in his adversity. Such is the animal whose propensities, instincts, and habits, I propose to illustrate by various anecdotes.
The propensities of the dog, and some of them are most extraordinary, appear to be independent of that instinct which Paley calls, “a propensity previous to experience, and independent of instruction.” Some of these are hereditary, or derived from the habits of the parents, and are suited to the purposes to which each breed has long been and is still applied. In fact, their organs have a fitness or unfitness for certain functions without education; — for instance, a very young puppy of the St. Bernard breed of dogs, when taken on snow for the first time, will begin to scratch it with considerable eagerness. I have seen a young pointer of three or four weeks old stand steadily on first seeing poultry, and a well-bred terrier puppy will show a great deal of ferocity at the sight of a rat or mouse.
Sir John Sebright, perhaps the best authority that can be quoted on this subject, says the he had a puppy of the wild breed of Australia; that the mother was with young when caught, and the puppy was born in the ship that brought her over. This animal was so like a wolf, not only in its appearance, but in all its habits, that Sir John at first doubted if it really were a dog, but this was afterwards proved by experiment.
Of all the propensities of the brute creation, the well-known 5 attachment of the dog to man is the most remarkable, arising probably from his having been for so many years his constant companion, and the object of his care. That this propensity is not instinctive is proved, by its not having existed, even in the slightest degree, in the Australian dog.
Sir John Sebright kept this animal for about a year, almost always in his room. He fed him himself, and took every means that he could think of to reclaim him, with no effect. He was insensible to caresses, and never appeared to distinguish Sir John from any other person. The dog would never follow him, even from one room to another; nor would he come when called, unless tempted by the offer of food. Wolves and foxes have shown much more sociability than he did. He appeared to be in good spirits, but always kept aloof from the other dogs. He was what would be called tame for an animal in a menagerie; that is, he was not shy, but would allow strangers to handle him, and never attempted to bite. If he were led near sheep or poultry, he became quite furious from his desire to attack them.
Here, then, we see that the propensities that are the most marked, and the most constant in every breed of domestic dogs, are not to be found in animals of the same species in their natural state, or even in their young, although subjected to the same treatment from the moment of their birth.
Notwithstanding the above-mentioned fact, we may, 6 I think, consider the domestic dog as an animal per se; that is, that it neither owes its origin to the fox nor wolf, but is sprung from the wild dog. In giving this opinion, I am aware that some naturalists have endeavoured to trace the origin of the dog from the fox; while others, and some of the most eminent ones, are of opinion that it sprung from the wolf. I shall be able to show that the former is out of the question. The wolf, perhaps, has some claim to be considered as the parent animal, and that he is susceptible of as strong attachment as the dog is proved by the following anecdote, related by Cuvier.
He informs us, that a young wolf was brought up as a dog, became familiar with every person whom he was in the habit of seeing, and in particular, followed his master everywhere, evincing evident chagrin at his absence, obeying his voice, and showing a degree of submission scarcely differing in any respect from that of the domesticated dog. His master, being obliged to be absent for a time, presented his pet to the Ménagerie du Roi, where the animal, confined in a den, continued disconsolate, and would scarcely eat his food. At length, however, his health returned, he became attached to his keepers, and appeared to have forgotten all his former affection; when, after an absence of eighteen months, his master returned. At the first word he uttered, the wolf, who had not perceived him amongst the crowd, recognised him, and exhibited the most lively joy. On being set at liberty, the most affectionate 7 caresses were lavished on his old master, such as the most attached dog would have shown after an absence of a few days.
A second separation was followed by similar demonstrations of sorrow, which, however, again yielded to time. Three years passed, and the wolf was living happily in company with a dog, which had been placed with him, when his master again returned, and again the long-lost but still-remembered voice, was instantly replied to by the most impatient cries, which wee redoubled as soon as the poor animal was set at liberty; when, rushing to his master, he threw his fore-feet on his shoulders, licking his face with the most lively joy, and menacing his keepers, who offered to remove him, and towards whom, not a moment before, he had been showing every mark of fondness.
A third separation, however, seemed to be too much for this faithful animal’s temper. He became gloomy, despondent, refused his food, and for a long time his life appeared in great danger. His health at last returned, but he not loner suffered the caresses of any but his keepers, and towards strangers manifested the original savageness of his species.
Mr. Bell, in his “History of Quadrupeds,” mentions a curious fact, which, I think, still more strongly proves the alliance of the dog with the wolf, and is indeed exactly similar to what is frequently done by dogs when in a state of domestication. He informs 8 us, that he “remembers a bitch-wolf at the Zoological Gardens, which would always come to the front bars of her den to be caressed as soon as he, or any other person whom she knew, approached. When she had pups, she used to bring them in her mouth to be noticed; and so eager, in fact, was she that her little ones should share with her in the notice of her friends, that she killed all of them in succession by rubbing them against the bars of her den, as she brought them forwards to be fondled.”
Other instances might be mentioned of the strong attachment felt by wolves to those who have treated them kindly, but I will now introduce some remarks on the anatomical affinities between the dog, the fox, and the wolf, which serve to prove that the dog is of a breed distinct from either of the last-mentioned animals.
It must, in fact, be always an interesting matter of inquiry respecting the descent of an animal so faithful to man, and so exclusively his associate and his friend, as the dog. Accordingly, this question has been entertained ever since Natural History took the rank of a science. But the origin of the dog is lost in antiquity. We find him occupying a place in the earliest pagan worship; his name has been given to one of the first-mentioned stars of the heaves, and his effigy may be seen in some of the most ancient works of art. Pliny was of opinion that there was no domestic animal without its unsubdued counterpart, and dogs are 9 known to exist absolutely wild in various parts of the old and new world. The Dingo of New Holland, a magnificent animal of this kind, has been shown to be susceptible of mutual attachment in a singular degree, though none of the experiments yet made have proved that he is capable, like the domestic dog, of a similar attachment to man. The parentage of the wild dogs has been assigned to the tame species, strayed from the dominion of their masters. This, however, still remains a question, and there is reason to believe that the wild dog is just as much a native of the wilderness as the lion or tiger. If there be these doubts about an animal left for centuries in a state of nature, how can we expect to unravel the difficulties accumulated by ages of domestication? Who knows for a certainty the true prototype of the goat, the sheep, or the ox? To the unscientific reader such questions might appear Idle, as having been settled from time immemorial; yet they have never been finally disposed of. The difficulty, as with the dog, may be connected with the modifications of form and colour, resulting from the long-conditioned interference of man with the breed and habits of animals subjected to his sway.
Buffon was very eloquent in behalf of the claim of the sheep-dog to be considered as the true ancestor of all the other varieties. Mr. Hunter would award this distinction to the wolf; supposing also that the jackal is the same animal a step further advanced towards 10 civilization, as perhaps the dog returned to its wild state. As the affinity between wolf, jackal, fox, and dog, cannot fail to attract the notice of the most superficial observer; so he may ask if they do not all really belong to one species, modified by varieties of climate, food, and education? If answered in the negative, he would want to know what constitutes a species, little thinking that this question, apparently so simple, involves one of the nicest problems in natural history. Difference of form will scarcely avail us here, for the pug, greyhound, and spaniel, are wider apart in this respect, than many dogs and the wild animals just named. It has often been said that these varieties in the dog have arisen from artificial habits and breeding through a long succession of years. This seems very like mere conjecture. Can the greyhound be trained to the pointer’s scent or the spaniel to the bulldog’s ferocity? But admitting the causes assigned to be adequate to the effects, then the forms would be temporary, and those of a permanent kind only would serve our purpose. Of this nature is the shape of the pupil of the eye, which may be noticed somewhat particularly, not merely to make it plain to those who have never thought on the subject, but with the hope of leading them to reflections on this wondrous inlet to half our knowledge, the more especially as the part in question may be examined by any one in his own person by the help of a looking-glass. In the front of the eye then, just behind the transparent surface, there 11 is a sort of curtain called the iris, about the middle of which is a round hole. This is the pupil, and you will observe that it contracts in a strong light, and dilates in a weaker one, the object of which is to regulate the quantity of light admitted into the eye. Now the figure of the pupil is not the same in all animals. In the horse it is oval; in the wolf, jackal, and dog, it is round, like our own, however contracted; but in the fox, as in the cat, the pupil contracts vertically into an elongated figure, like the section of a lens, and even to a sort of slit, if the light be very strong.
This is a permanent character, not affected, as far as is at present known, by any artificial or natural circumstances to which the dog has been subjected. Naturalists, therefore, have seized upon this character as the ground for a division of animals of the dog kind, the great genus Canisof Linnæus, into two groups, the diurnal and nocturnal; not to imply tat these habits necessarily belong to all the individuals composing either of these divisions, for that would be untrue, but simply that the figure of the pupils corresponds with that frequently distinguishing day-roaming animals from those that prowl only by night. It is remarkable that a more certain and serviceable specific distinction is thus afforded by a little anatomical point, than by any of the ore obvious circumstances of form, size, or colour. Whether future researches into the minute structure of animals may not discover other means to assist the naturalist in distinguishing nearly 12 allied species, is a most important subject for inquiry, which cannot be entertained here. But to encourage those who may be disposed to undertake it, I must mention the curious fact, that the group to which the camel belongs is not more certainly indicated by his grotesque and singular figure than by the form of the red particles which circulate in his blood. And here again the inherent interest of the matter will lead me to enter a little into particulars, which may engage any one who has a good microscope in a most instructive course of observations, not the least recommendation of which is, that a just and pleasing source of recreation may be thus pursued by evening parties in the drawing-room, since the slightest prick of the finger will furnish blood enough for a microscopic entertainment, and you may readily procure a little more for comparison from any animal.
Now the redness of the blood is owing to myriads of minute objects in which the colour of the vital fluid resides. They were formerly called globules, but as they are now known to be flattened and disc-like, they are more properly termed particles or corpuscles. Their form is wonderfully regular, and so is their size within certain limits; in birds, reptiles, or fishes, the corpuscles are oval. They are circular in man, and all other mammals, except in the camel tribe, in which the corpuscles are oval, though much smaller than in the lower animals. Thus, in the minutest drops of blood, any one of the camel family can be surely distinguished 13 from all other animals, even from its allies among the ruminants; and what is more to our purpose, in pursuing this inquiry, Mr. Gulliver has found that the blood-corpuscles of the dog and wolf agree exactly, while those of all the true foxes are slightly though distinctly smaller.
These curious facts are all fully detailed in Mr. Gulliver’s Appendix to the English version of Gerber’s Anatomy, but I think that they are now for the first time enlisted into the service of Natural History.
Thus we dismiss the fox as an alien to the dog, or, at all events, as a distinct species. Then comes the claim of the wolf as the true original of the dog. Before considering this, let us revert to the question of what constitutes a species. Mr. Hunter was of opinion that it is the power of breeding together and of continuing the breed with each other; that this is partially the case between the dog and the wolf is certain, for Lord Clanbrassil and Lord Pembroke proved the fact beyond a doubt, above half-a-century ago; and the following epitaph in the garden at Wilton House is a curious record of the particulars: —
Conclusive as this fact may appear, as proving the 14 descent of the dog from the wolf, it is not convincing, the dog having characters which do not belong to the wolf.
The dog, for instance, guards property with strictest vigilance, which has been entrusted to his charge; all his energies seem roused at night, as though aware that this is the time when depredations are committed. His courage is unbounded, a property not possessed by the wolf: he appears never to forget a kindness, but soon loses the recollection of an injury, if received from the hand of one he loves, but resents it if offered by a stranger. His docility and mental pliability exceed those of any other animal; his habits are social, and his fidelity not to be shaken; hunger cannot weaken, nor old age impair it. His discrimination is equal, in many respects, to human intelligence. If he commits a fault, he is sensible of it, and shows pleasure when commended. These, and many other qualities, which might have been enumerated, are distinct from those possessed by the wolf. It may be said that domestication might produce them in the latter. This may be doubted, and is not likely to be proved; the fact is, the dog would appear to be a precious gift to man from a benevolent Creator, to become his friend, companion, protector, and the indefatigable agent of his wishes. While all other animals had the fear and dread of man implanted in them, the poor dog along looked at his master with affection, and the tie once formed was never broken to the present hour.15
It should also be mentioned, in continuation of my argument, that the experiment of the wolf breeding with the dog is of no value, because it has never been carried sufficiently far to prove that the progeny would continue fertile inter se. The wolf has oblique eyes — the eyes of dogs have never been retrograded to that position. If the dog descended from the wolf, a constant tendency would have been observed in the former to revert to the original type or species. This is a law in all other cross-breeds — but amongst all the varieties of dogs, this tendency has not existed. I may also add, that as far as I have been able to ascertain the fact, the number of teats of the female wolf have never been known to vary. With respect to the dog, it is known that they do vary, some having more, and others a less number.
Having thus brought forward such arguments as have occurred to me to prove that the dog is a breed sui generis, I will give a few anecdotes to show how different this animal is in his specific character to the wolf, and that he has a natural tendency to acknowledge man as his friend and protector, an instinct never shown to the wolf.
In Ceylon there are a great number of what are called wild dogs, that is, dogs who have no master, and who haunt villages and jungles, picking up what food they are able to find. If you meet one of these neglected animals, and only look at him with an expression of kindness, from that moment he attaches 16 himself to you, owns you for his master, and will remain faithful to you for the remainder of his life.
“Man,” says Burns, “is the God of the dog; he knows no other; and see how he worships him! With what reverence he crouches at his feet, with what reverence he looks up to him, with what delight he fawns upon him, and with what cheerful alacrity he obeys him!”
Such is the animal which the brutality of man subjects to so much ill-treatment; its character depends very much on that of his master, kindness and confidence produce the same qualities in the dog, while ill-usage makes him sullen and distrustful of beings far more brutal than himself.
I have had many opportunities of observing how readily dogs comprehend language, and how they are aware when they are the subject of conversation. A gentleman once said in the hearing of an old and favourite dog, who was at the time basking in the sun, — “I must have Ponto killed, for he gets old and is offensive.” The dog slunk away, and never came near his master afterwards. Many similar anecdotes might be brought forward, but I will mention one which Captain Brown tells us he received himself from Sir Walter Scott.
“The wisest dog I ever had,” said Sir Walter, “was what is called the bulldog terrier. I taught him to understand a great many words, insomuch that 17 I am positive that the communication betwixt the canine species and ourselves might be greatly enlarged. Camp once bit the baker, who was bringing bread to the family. I beat him, and explained he enormity of his offence; after which, to the last moment of his life, he never heard the least allusion to the story, in whatever voice or tone it was mentioned, without getting up and retiring into the darkest corner of the room with great appearance of distress. Then if you said, ‘the baker was well paid,’ or, ‘the baker was not hurt after all,’ Camp came forth from his hiding-place, capered, and barked, and rejoiced. When he was unable, towards the end of his life, to attend me when on horseback, he used to watch for my return, and the servant would tell him ‘his master was coming down the hill, or through the moor,’ and although he did not use any gesture to explain his meaning, Camp was never known to mistake him, but either went out at the front to go up the hill, or at the back to get down to the moor-side. He certainly had a singular knowledge of spoken language.” An anecdote from Sir Walter Scot must be always pleasing.
Mr. Smellie, in his “Philosophy of Natural History,” mentions a curious instance of the intellectual faculty of a dog. He states that “a grocer in Edinburgh had one which for some time amused and astonished the people in the neighbourhood. A man who went through the streets ringing a bell and selling pies, happened one day to treat this dog with a pie. The 18 next time he heard the pieman’s bell he ran impetuously toward him, seized him by the coat, and would not suffer him to pass. The pieman, who understood what the animal wanted, showed him a penny, and pointed to his master, who stood at the street-door, and saw what was going on. The dog immediately supplicated his master by many humble gestures and looks, and on receiving a penny he instantly carried it in his mouth to the pieman, and received his pie. This traffic between the pieman and the grocer’s dog continued to be daily practised for several months.”
The affection which some dogs show to their masters and mistresses is not only very often surprising, but even affecting. An instance of this lately occurred at Brighton. The wife of a member of the town council at that place had been an invalid for some time, and at last was confined to her bed. During this period she was constantly attended by a faithful and affectionate dog, who either slept in her room or outside her door. She died, was buried, and the dog followed the remains of his beloved mistress to her grave. After the funeral the husband and his friends returned to the house, and while they were partaking of some refreshments, the dog put its paws on his master’s arm, as if to attract his attention, looked wistfully in his face, and then laid down and instantly expired.
In giving miscellaneous anecdotes in order to show the general character of the dog, I may mention the following very curious one.19
During a very severe frost and fall of snow in Scotland, the fowls did not make their appearance at the hour when they usually retired to roost, and no one knew what had become of them; the house-dog at last entered the kitchen, having in his mouth a hen, apparently dead. Forcing his way to the fire, the sagacious animal laid his charge down upon the warm hearth, and immediately set off. He soon came again with another, which he deposited in the same place, and so continued till the whole of the poor birds were rescued. Wandering about the stack-yard, the fowls had become quite benumbed by the extreme cold, and had crowded together, when the dog observing them, effected their deliverance, for they all revived by the warmth of the fire.
That dogs possess a faculty nearly allied to reason cannot, I think, be doubted. Mr. Davy, in his “Angler in the Lake Dsitrict,” (a charming work), gives one or two anecdotes in proof of this.
When Mr. Davy was at Ceylon, the Governor of that Island, the late Sir Robert Brownrigg, had a dog of more than ordinary sagacity. He always accompanied his master, being allowed to do so, except on particular occasions, such as going to church or council, or to inspect his troops, when the Governor usually wore his sword; but when the dog saw his sword girded on, he would only follow to the outer door. Without a word being said, he would return and wait for the coming back of his master, patiently remaining 20 up-stairs at the door of his private apartment. So it is with respect to my own pet terrier, Phiz. When he sees me putting on my walking-shoes, my great-coat, or hat, he is all eagerness to accompany me, jumping about me and showing his joy. But on Sundays it is very different. My shoes, great-coat or hat, may be put on, but he remains perfectly resigned on the rug before the fire, and never attempts or shows any inclination to follow me. Is the dog guided in acting thus by instinct or reason?
Let me give another instance from Mr. Davy’s work.
Once when he was fishing in the highlands of Scotland, he saw a party of sportsmen, with their dogs, cross the stream, the men wading, the dogs swimming, with the exception of one, who stopped on the bank piteously howling. After a few minute he suddenly ceased, and started off full speed for a higher part of the stream. Mr. Davy was able to keep him in view, and he did stop till he came to a spot where a plank connected the banks, on which he crossed dry-footed, and soon joined his companions.
Dogs have sometimes strange fancies with respect to moving from one place to another. A Fellow of a College at Cambridge had a dog, which sometimes took it into his head to visit his master’s usual place of resort in London. He would then return to his home in Suffolk, and then go to Cambridge, remaining at each place as long as he felt disposed to do so, and 21 going and returning with the most perfect indifference and complacency.
The extraordinary sense of a dog was shown in the following instance. A gentleman, residing near Pontypool, had his horse brought to his house by a servant. While the man went to the door, the horse ran away and made his escape to a neighbouring mountain. A dog belonging to the house saw this, and of his own accord followed the horse, got hold of the bridle and brought him back, to the door.
I have been informed of two instances of dogs having slipped their collars and put their heads into them again of their own accord, after having committed depredations in the night, and I have elsewhere mentioned the fact of a dog, now in my possession, who undid the collar of another dog chained to a kennel near him. These are curious instances of sense and sagacity.
Mr. Bell, in his “History of British Quadrupeds,” gives us the following fact of a dog belonging to a friend of his. This gentleman dropped a louis d’or one morning, when he was on the point of leaving his house. On returning late at night, he was told by his servant that the dog had fallen sick, and refused to eat, and, what appeared very strange, she would not suffer him to take her food away from before her, but had been laying with her nose close to the vessel, without attempting to touch it. On Mr. Bell’s friend entering the room, the dog instantly jumped upon 22 him, laid the money at his feet, and began to devour her victuals with great voracity.
It is a curious fact that dogs can count time. I had, when a boy, a favourite terrier, which always went with me to church. My mother, thinking that he attracted too much of my attention, ordered the servants to fasten him up every Sunday morning. he did so once or twice, but never afterwards. Trim concealed himself every Sunday morning, and either met me as I entered the church, or I found him under my seat in the pew. Mr. Southey, in his “Omniana,’ informs us that he knew of a dog, which was brought up by a Catholic and afterwards sold to a Protestant, but still he refused to eat anything on a Friday.
Dogs have been known to die from excess of joy at seeing their masters after a long absence. An English officer had a large dog, which he left with his family in England, while he accompanied an expedition to America during the war of the Colonies. Throughout his absence, the animal appeared very much dejected. When the officer returned home, the dog, who happened to be lying at the door of an apartment into which his master was about to enter, immediately recognised him, leapt upon is neck, licked his face, and in a few minutes fell dead at his feet. A favourite spaniel of a lady recently died on seeing his beloved mistress after a long absence.
A gentleman who had a dog of a most endearing disposition, was obliged to go a journey periodically 23 once a-month. His stay was short, and his departure and return very regular, and without variation. The dog always grew uneasy when he first lost his master, and moped in a corner, but recovered himself gradually as the time for his return approached; which he knew to an hour, nay, to a minute. When he was convinced that his master was on the road, at no great distance from home, he flew all over the house; and if the street door happened to be shut, he would suffer no servant to have any rest until it was opened. The moment he obtained his freedom away he went, and to a certainty met his benefactor about two miles from town. He played and frolicked about him till he had obtained one of his gloves, with which he ran or rather flew home, entered the house, laid it down in the middle of the room, and danced round it. When he had sufficiently amused himself in this manner, out of the house he flew, returned to meet his master, and ran before him, or gambolled by his side, till he arrived with him at home. “I know not (says Mr. Dibdin, who relates this anecdote), how frequently this was repeated; but it lasted till the old gentleman grew infirm, and incapable of continuing his journeys. The dog by this time was also grown old, and became at length blind; but this misfortune did not hinder him from fondling his master, whom he knew from every other person, and for whom his affection and solicitude rather increased than diminished. The old gentleman, after a short illness, died. The dog knew the circumstances, 24 watched the corpse, blind as he was, and did his utmost to prevent the undertaker from screwing up the body in the coffin, and most outrageously opposed its being taken out of the house. Being past hope, he grew disconsolate, lost his flesh, and was evidently verging towards his end. One day he heard a gentleman come into the house, and he ran to meet him. His master being old and infirm, wore ribbed stockings for warmth. The gentleman had stockings on of the same kind. The dog perceived it, and thought it was his master, and began to exhibit the most extravagant signs of pleasure; but upon further examination finding his mistake, he retired into a corner, where in a short time he expired.”
Some dogs are so faithful that they will never quit a thing entrusted to their charge, and will defend it to the utmost of their power. This may be often observed in the case of a cur, lying on the coat of a labourer while he is at work, and in those of carriers’ and bakers’ dogs. An instance is on record of a chimney-sweeper having placed his soot-bag in the street under the care of his dog, who suffered a cart to drive over and crush him to death, sooner than abandon his charge. Colonel Hamilton Smith, in the “Cyclopædia of Natural History,” mentions a curious instance of fidelity and sagacity in a dog. He informs us that “in the neighbourhood of Cupar, in the county of Fife, there lived two dogs, mortal enemies to each other, and who always fought desperately whenever 25 they met. Capt. R—— was the master of one of them, and the other belonged to a neighbouring farmer. Capt. R——’s dog was in the practice of going messages, and even of bringing butchers’ meat and other articles from Cupar. One day, while returning charged with a basket containing some pieces of mutton, he was attacked by some of the curs of the town, who, no doubt, thought the prize worth contending for. The assault was fierce, and of some duration; but the messenger, after doing his utmost, was at last overpowered and compelled to yield up the basket, though not before he had secured a part of its contents. The piece saved from the wreck he ran off with, at full speed, to the quarters of his old enemy, at whose feet he laid it down, stretching himself beside it till he had eaten it up. A few snuffs, a few whispers in the ear, and other dog-like courtesies, were then exchanged; after which they both set off together for Cupar, where they worried almost every dog in the town; and, what is more remarkable, they never afterwards quarrelled, but were always on friendly terms.”
That society and culture soften and moderate the passions of dogs cannot be doubted, and they constantly imbibe feelings from those of their master. Thus, if he is a coward, his dog is generally found to be one. Dogs are, however, in many respects, rational beings; and some proofs of this will be given in the present work. They will watch the countenance of 26 their master — they will understand words, which, though addressed to others, they will apply to themselves, and act accordingly. Thus a dog, which, from its mangy state, was ordered to be destroyed, took the first opportunity of quitting the ship, and would never afterwards come near a sailor belonging to it. If I desire the servant to wash a little terrier, who is apparently asleep at my feet, he will quit the room, and hide himself for some hours. A dog, though pressed with hinder, will never seize a piece of meat in presence of his masters, though with his eyes, his movements, and his voice, he will make the most humble and expressive petition. Is not this reasoning?
But there is one faculty in the dog which would appear perfectly incomprehensible. It is the sense of smelling. He will not only scent various kinds of game at considerable distances, but he has been known to trace the odour of his master’s feet through all the winding streets of a populous city. This extreme sensibility is very wonderful. It would thus appear that the feelings of dogs are more exquisite than our own. They have sensations, but their faculty of comparing them, or of forming ideas, is much circumscribed. A dog can imitate some human actions, and is capable of receiving a certain degree of instruction; but his progress soon stops. It is, however, an animal that should always be loved and treated with kindness. It is a curious fact, that dogs who have had their ears and tails 27 cut for many generations, transmit these defects to their descendants. Drovers’ dogs, which may always be seen with short tails, are a proof of this.
A pleasing character of the dog is given in Smellie’s “Philosophy of Natural History.” He says: —
“The natural sagacity and talents of the dog are well known, and justly celebrated. But when these are improved by association with man, and by education, he becomes, in some measure, a rational being. The senses of the dog, particularly that of scenting distant objects, give him a superiority over every other quadruped. He reigns at the head of a flock; and his language, whether expressive of blandishment or of command, is better heard and better understood than the voice of his master. Safety, order, and discipline, are the effects of his vigilance and activity. Sheep and cattle are his objects. These he conducts and protects with prudence and bravery, and never employs force against them except for the preservation of peace and good order. But when in pursuit of prey, he makes a complete display of his courage and intelligence. In this situation both natural and acquired talents are exerted. As soon as the horn or voice of the hunter is heard, the dog demonstrates his joy by the most expressive emotions and accents. By his movements and cries he announces his impatience for combat, and his passion for victory. Sometimes he moves silently along, reconnoitres the ground, and endeavours to discover and surprise the enemy. At other times he 28 traces the animal’s steps, and by different modulations of voice, and by the movements, particularly of his tail, indicates the distance, the species, and even the age of the fugitive deer. All these movements and modifications of voice are perfectly understood by experienced hunters. When he wishes to get into an apartment he comes to the door; if that is shut, he scratches with his foot, makes a bewailing noise, and, if his petitions is not soon answered, he barks with a peculiar and humble voice. The shepherd’s dog not only understands the language of his master, but, when too distant to be heard, he knows how to act by signals made with the hand.”
Mr. Brockedon, in his “Journal of Excursions in the Alps,” says: — “In these valleys, the early hours of retirement placed us in the difficult situation of fighting our way to the inn door at Lanslebourg against a magnificent Savoyard dog, who barked and howled defiance at our attempts, for which he stood some chance of being shot. At length a man, hearing our threats, popped his head out of a window, and entreated our forbearance. We were soon admitted, and refreshments amply provided. I had heard a story of a duel fought here from Mr. N——, in which he was a principal, about a dog; and upon inquiry learnt that this was the same animal. A party of four young officers, returning from Genoa, stopped here. Mr. N—— had brought with him a beautiful little pet dog, which had been presented to him by a lady on his 29 leaving Genoa. Struck by the appearance of the fine dog at the inn, one of the officers bought it. He was fairly informed that the dog had been already sold to an Englishman, who had taken it as far as Lyons, where the dog escaped, and returned (two hundred miles) to Lanslebourg. The officer who made the purchase intended to fasten it in the same place with the little dog. Mr. N—— objected to; when his brother-officer made some offensive allusions to the lady from whom the pet had been received. An apology was demanded, and refused. Swords were instantly drawn; they fought in the room. Mr. N—— wounded and disarmed his antagonist; an apology for the injurious reflections followed, and the party proceeded to England. The dog was taken safely as far as Paris, where he again escaped, and returned home (five hundred miles)./ I was now informed that the dog had been sold a third time to an Englishman; and again, in spite of precautions having been taken, he had returned to Lanslebourg from Calais.”
A Scotch grazier, named Archer, having lost his way, and being benighted, at last got to a lone cottage; where, on his being admitted, a dog which had left Archer’s house four years before immediately recognised him, fawned upon him, and when he retired for the night followed him into the chamber where he was to lie, and there, by his gestures, induced him narrowly to examine it; and then Archer saw sufficient to assure him that he was in the house of murderers. Rendered 30 desperate by the terrors of the situation, he burst into the room where the banditti were assembled, and wounded his insidious host by a pistol-shot; and in the confusion which the sudden explosion occasioned, he opened the door; and, notwithstanding he was fired at, accompanied by his dog Brutus, exerted all the speed which danger could call forth until daylight, which enabled him to perceive a house, and the main road, at no great distance. Upon his arrival at the house, and telling the master of it his story, he called up some soldiers that were there quartered, and who, by the aid of the dog, retraced the way back to the cottage. Upon examining the building a trap-door was found, which opened into a place where, amongst the mangled remains of several persons, was the body of the owner, who had received the shot from the grazier’s pistol in his neck; and although not dead, had been, by the wretches his associates, in their quick retreat, thrown into the secret cemetery. He was, however, cured of his wound, delivered up to justice, tried and executed.*
A merchant had received a large sum of money; and being fatigued with riding in the heat of the day, had retired to repose himself in the shade; and upon remounting his horse, had forgotten to take up the bag which contained the money. His dog tried to remind his master of his inadvertency by crying and barking, which so surprised the merchant, that, in crossing a 31 brook, he observed whether the dog drank, as he had his suspicions of his being mad; and which were confirmed by the dog’s not lapping any water, and by his increased barking and howling, and at length by his endeavouring to bit the heels of the horse. Impressed with the idea of the dog’s madness, to prevent further mischief, he discharged his pistol at him, and the dog fell. After riding some distance with feelings that will arise in every generous breast at the destruction of an affectionate animal, he discovered that his money was missing. His mind was immediately struck that the actions of the dog, which his impetuosity had construed into madness, were only efforts to remind him of his loss. He galloped back to where he had fired his pistol; but the dog was gone from thence with equal expedition to the spot where he had reposed. But what were the merchant’s feelings when he perceived his faithful dog, in the struggles of death, lying by the side of the bag which had been forgotten! The dog tried to rise, but his strength was exhausted. He stretched out his tongue to lick the hand that was now fondling him with all the agony of regret for the would its rashness had inflicted, and casting a look of kindness on his master, closed his eyes for ever.§
I am indebted to a well-known sportsman for the following interesting account of some of his dogs. It affords another proof how much kindness will do in bringing out the instinctive faculties of these animals; 32 and that, when properly educated, their sense, courage, and attachment are most extraordinary.
“Smoaker was a deer greyhound of the largest size, but of his pedigree I know nothing. In speed he was equal to any hare greyhound; at the same time, in spirit he was indomitable. He was the only dog I ever knew who was a match for a red stag, single-handed. From living constantly in the drawing-room, and never being separated from me, he became acquainted with almost the meaning of every word — certainly of every sign. His retrieving of game was equal to any of the retrieving I ever saw in any other dogs. he would leap over any of the most dangerous spikes at a sign, walk up and come down any ladder, and catch, without hurting it, any particular fowl out of a number that was pointed out to him. If he missed me from the drawing-room, and had doubts about my being in the house, he would go into the hall and look for my hat: if he found it, he would return contented; but if he did not find it, he would proceed up-stairs to a window at the very top of the house, and look from the window each way, to ascertain if I were in sight. One day in shooting at Cranford, with his late Royal Highness the Duke of York, a pheasant fell on the other side of the stream. The river was frozen over; but in crossing to fetch the pheasant the ice broke, and let s in, to some inconvenience. He picked up the pheasant, and instead of trying the ice again, he took it many hundred yards round to the 33 bridge. Smoaker died at the great age of eighteen years. His son Shark was also a beautiful dog. He was by Smoaker out of a common greyhound bitch, called Vagrant, who had won a cup at Swaffham. Shark was not so powerful as Smoaker; but he was, nevertheless, a large-sized dog, and was a first-rate deer greyhound and retriever. He took his father’s place on the rug, and was inseparable from me. He was educated and entered at deer under Smoaker. When Shark was first admitted to the house, it chanced that one day he and Smoaker were left alone in a room with a table on which luncheon was laid. Smoaker might have been left for hours with meat on the table, but at that time Shark was not proof against temptation. I left the room to hand some lady to her carriage, and as I returned by the window, I looked in. Shark was on his legs, smelling curiously round the table; whilst Smoaker had risen to a sitting posture, his ears priced, his brow frowning, and his eyes intently fixed on his son’s actions. After tasting several viands, Sharks’s long nose came in contact with about half a cold tongue; the morsel was too tempting to be withstood. For all the look of curious anger with which his father was intently watching, the son stole the tongue and conveyed it to the floor. No sooner had he done so, than the offended sire rushed upon him, rolled him over, beat him, and took away the tongue. Instead, though, of replacing it on the table, 34 the father contented himself with the punishment he had administered, and retired with great gravity to the fire.
“I was once waiting by moonlight for wild ducks on the Ouze in Bedfordshire, and I killed a couple on the water at a shot. The current was strong; but Shark, having fetched one of the birds, was well aware there was another. Instead, therefore, of returning by water to look for the second, he ran along the banks, as if aware that the strong stream would have carried the bird further own; looking in the water till he saw it, at least a hundred yards from the spot where he ad left it in bringing the first; when he also brought that to me. Nothing could induce either of these dogs to fetch a glove or a stick: I have often seen game fall close to me, and they would not attempt to touch it. It seemed as if they simply desired to be of service when service was to be done; and that when there were no obstacles to be conquered, they had no wish to interfere. Shark died at a good old age, and was succeeded by his son Wolfe. Wolfe’s mother was a Newfoundland bitch. He was also a large and powerful dog, but of course not so speedy as his ancestors. While residing at my country house, being my constant companion, Wolfe accompanied e two or three times a-day in the breeding season to feed the young pheasants and partridges reared under hens. On going near the coops, I put down my gun, made Wolfe a sign to sit down by it, and fed the birds, with some 35 caution, that they might not be in any way scared. I mention this, because I am sure that dogs learn more from the manner and method of those they love, than they do from direct teaching. In front of the windows on the lawn there was a large bed of shrubs and flowers, into which the rabbits used to cross, and where I had often sent Wolfe in to drive them for me to shoot. One afternoon, thinking that there might be a rabbit, I made Wolfe the usual sign to go and drive the shrubs, which he obeyed; but ere he had gone some yards beneath the bushes, I heard him make a peculiar noise with his jaws, which he always made when he saw anything he did not like, and he came softly back to me with a sheepish look. I repeated the sing, and encouraged him to go; but he never got beyond the spot he had been to in the first instance, and invariably returned to me with a very odd expression of countenance. Curiosity tempted me to creep into the bushes to discover the cause of the dog’s unwonted behaviour; when there, I found, congregated under one of the shrubs, eight or nine of my young pheasants, who had for the first time roosted at a distance from their coop. Wolfe had seen and known the young pheasants, and would not scare them.
“Wolfe was the cause of my detecting and discharging one of my gamekeepers. I had forbidden my rabbits to be killed until my return; and the keeper was ordered simply to walk Wolfe to exercise on the farm. There was a large stone quarry in the 36 vicinity, where there were a good many rabbits, some parts of which were so steep that though you might look over the cliff, and shoot a rabbit below, neither man nor dog could pick him up without going a considerable way round. On approaching the edge of the quarry to look over for a rabbit, I was surprised at missing Wolfe, who invariably stole off in another direction, but always the same way. At last, on shooting a rabbit, I discovered that he invariably went to the only spot by which he could descend to pick up whatever fell to the gun; and by this I found that somebody had shot rabbits in his presence at times when I was from home.
“Wolfe accompanied me to my residence in Hampshire, and there I naturalised, in a wild state, some white rabbits. For the first year the white ones were never permitted to be killed, and Wolfe saw that such was the case. One summer’s afternoon I shot a white rabbit for the first time, and Wolfe jumped the garden fence to pick the rabbit up; but his astonishment and odd sheepish look, when he found it was a white one, were curious in the extreme. He dropped his stern, made his usual snap with his jaws, and came back looking up in my face, as much to say, ‘You’ve made a mistake, and shot a white rabbit, but I’ve not picked him up.’ I was obliged to assure him that I intended to shoot it, and to encourage him before he would return and bring the rabbit to me. Wolfe died when he was about nine years old, and was succeeded 37 by my present favourite, Brenda, a hare greyhound of the highest caste. Brenda won the Oak stakes of her year, and is a very fast and stout greyhound. I have taught her to retrieve game to the gun, to drive home the game from dangerous sands, and, in short, to do everything but speak; and this she attempts, by making a beautiful sort of bark when she wants her dinner.
“I have the lop-eared rabbit naturalised, and in a half-wild and wild state, and Brenda is often to be seen with some of the tamest of them asleep in the sun on the lawn together. When the rabbits have been going out into a dangerous vicinity, late in the evening, I have often sent Brenda to drive them home, and to course and kill the wild ones if she could. I have seen one of the wild-bred lop-ears get up before her, and I have seen her make a start to course it; but when she saw that it was not a native of the soil she would stop and continue her search for others. The next moment I have seen her course and kill a wild rabbit. She is perfectly steady from hare if I tell her not to run, and is, without any exception, one of the prettiest and most useful and engaging creatures ever seen. She is an excellent rat-killer also, and has an amazing antipathy to a cat. When I have been absent from home for some time, Mrs. B. has observed that she is alive to every sound of a wheel, and if the door-bell rings she is the first to fly to it. When walking on the sea-beach during my absence, she is 38 greatly interested in every boat she sees, and watches them with the most intense anxiety, as in the yachting season she has known me return by sea. Brenda would take my part in a row, and she is a capital house-dog. If ever the heart of a creature was given to man, this beautiful, graceful, and clever animal has given me hers, for her whole existence is either passed in watching for my return, or in seeking opportunities to please me when I am at home. It is a great mistake to suppose that severity of treatment is necessary to the education of a dog, or that it is serviceable in making him steady. Manner — marked and impressive manner — is that which teaches obedience, and example rather than command forms the desired character.
“I had two foxhounds when I hunted stag, — my pack were all foxhounds, — they were named Bachelor and Blunder. We used to play with them together, and they got to know each other by name. In returning from hunting, my brother and myself used to amuse ourselves by saying, in a peculiar tone of voice, — the one we used to use in playing with them — ‘Bachelor, where’s Blunder?’ On hearing this, Bachelor’s stern and bristles rose, and he trotted about among the pack, looking for Blunder, and when he found him he would push his nose against his ear and growl at him. Thus Bachelor evidently know blunder by name, and this arose from the way in which we used to play with them. At this moment, when far away from home, and after an absence of 39 many weeks, if I seeing a particular song, which I always sing to a dog named Jessie, Brenda, though staying in houses where she had never seen Jessie, will get up much excited, and look to the door and out of the window in expectation of her friend. I have a great pleasure in the society of all animals, and I love to make my house a place where all may meet in rest and good fellowship. This is far easier to achieve than people would think for when dogs are kindly used, but impressed with ideas of obedience.
“The gazelle which came home from Acre in the Thunderer, was one evening feeding from Mrs. B.’s plate at dessert, when Odion, the great deerhound, who was beaten in my match against the five deer by an unlucky stab in the first course, came in by special invitation for his biscuit. The last deer he had seen previous to the gazelle he had course and pulled down. The strange expression of his dark face was beautiful when he first saw her; and halting in his run up to me, he advanced more slowly directly to her, she met him also in apparent wonder at his great size, and they smelled each others’ faces. Odion then kissed her, and came to me for his biscuit, and never after noticed her. She will at times butt him if he takes up too much of the fire; but this she will not do to Brenda, except in play; and if she is eating from Mrs. Berkeley’s hand, Brenda by a peculiar look can send her away and take her place. Odion, the gazelle, Brenda, and the rabbits, will all quietly lay on the 40 lawn together, and the gazelle and Bruiser, an immense house-dog between the bloodhound and mastiff, will run and play together.
“I had forgotten to mention a bull-and-mastiff dog that I had, called Grumbo. He was previous to Smoaker, and was indeed the first four-footed companion established in my confidence. I was then very young, and of course inclined to anything like a row. Grumbo, therefore, was well entered in all kinds of strife — bulls, oxen, pigs, men, dogs, all came in turn as combatants; and Grumbo had the oddest ways of making men and animals the aggressors I ever knew. He seemed to make it a point of honour never to begin, but on receiving a hint from me; some one of his enemies was sure to commence the battle, and then he or both of us would turn to as an oppressed party. I have seen him walk leisurely out into the middle of a field where oxen were grazing, and then throw himself down. Either a bull or the oxen were sure to be attracted by the novel sight, and come dancing and blowing round him. All this he used to bear with the most stoical fortitude, till some one more forward than the rest touched him with the horn. ‘War to the knife, and no favour,’ was then the cry; and Grumbo had one of them by the nose directly. He being engaged at odds, I of course made in to help him, and such a scene of confusion used to follow as was scarce ever seen. Grumbo tossed in the air, and then some beast pinned by the nose would lie down 41 and bellow. I should all this time be swinging round on to some of their tails, and so it would go on till Grumbo and myself were tired and our enemies happy to beat a retreat. If he wished to pick a quarrel with a man, he would walk listlessly before him till the man trod on him, and then the row began. Grumbo was the best assistant, night or day, for catching delinquents, in the world. As a proof of his thoughtful sagacity, I give the following fact. He was my sole companion when I watched two men steal a quantity of pheasants’ eggs: we gave chase; but before I could come near them, with two hundred yards start of me, they fled. There was no hope of my overtaking them before they reached the village of Harlington, so I gave Grumbo the office. Off he went, but in the chase the men ran up a headland on which a cow was tethered. They passed the cow; and when the dog came up to the cow he stopped, and, to my horror, contemplated a grab at the tempting nose. He was, however, uncertain as to whether or not this would be right, and he looked back at me for further assurance. I made the sign to go ahead, and he understood it, for he took up the running again, and disappeared down a narrow pathway leading through the orchards to the houses. When I turned that corner, to my infinite delight I found him placed in the narrow path, directly in front of one of the poachers, with such an evident determination of purpose, that the man was standing stock still, afraid to stir either hand or foot. I came 42 up and secured the offender, and bade the dog be quiet.”
It is, I believe, a fact, and if so, it is a curious one, that the dog in a wild state only howls; but when he becomes the friend and companion of man, he has then wants and wishes, hopes and fears, joys and sorrows, to which in his wilder state he appears to have been a stranger. His vocabulary, if it may be so called, then increases, in order to express his enlarged and varying emotions. He anticipates rewards and punishments, and learns to solicit the former and deprecate the latter. He bounds exultingly forth to accompany his master in his walks, rides, and sports of the field. He acts as the faithful guardian of his property. He is his fire-side companion, evidently discerns days of household mirth or grief, and deports himself accordingly. Hence, his energies and his sensibilities are all expanded, and what he feels he seeks to tell in various accents, and in different ways. For instance, or little dog comes and pulls his mistress’s gown and makes significant whines, if any one is in or about the premises whom he thinks has no right to be there. I have seen a dog pick up a stick and ring it in his mouth to his master, looking at the water first and then at the master, evidently that the stick might be thrown into it, that he might have the pleasure of swimming after it. In my younger days, I was in the habit of teazing a favourite dog by twitching his nose and pretending to pull his ears. He would snap gently at me, but if, 43 by accident, he gave me rather a harder bite than he had intended, he became instantly aware of it, and expressed his regret in a way not to be mistaken. Dogs who have hurt or cut themselves will submit patiently while the wound is being dressed, however, much the operation may hurt them. They become instantly sensible that no punishment is intended to be inflicted, and I have seen them lick the hand of the operator, as if grateful for what he was doing. Those who are in the habit of having dogs constantly in the room with them, will have perceived how alive they are to the slightest change in the countenance of their master; how gently they will touch him with their paw when he is eating, in order to remind him of their own want of food; and how readily they distinguish the movements of any inmate of the house from those of a stranger. These, and many other circumstances which might be mentioned, show a marked distinction between a domesticated dog and one that is wiled, or who has lived with people who are in an uncivilized state, such as the Esquimaux, &c. Both the wild and domestic dog, however, appear to be possessed of and to exercise forethought. They will bury or hide food, which they are unable to consume at once, and return for it. But the domestic dog, perhaps, gives stronger proofs of forethought; and I will give an instance of it. A large metal pot, turned on one side, win which a great quantity of porridge had been boiled, was set before a Newfoundland puppy of three or four months old. At first, he 44 contented himself by licking off portions of the oatmeal which adhered to the interior, but finding this unsatisfactory, he scraped the morsels with his fore-paws into a heap, and then ate the whole at once. I had a dog, who, having once scalded his tongue, always afterwards, when I gave him his milk and water at breakfast, put his paw very cautiously into the saucer, to see if the liquid was too hot, before he would touch it with his tongue.
Dogs have frequently been known to hunt in couples; that is, to assist each other in securing their prey: thus associating together and admitting of no partnership.
At Palermo, in Sicily, there is an extraordinary quantity of dogs wandering about without owners. Amongst the number, two more particularly distinguished themselves for their animosity to cats. One day they were in pursuit of a cat, which, seeing no other place of refuge near, made her escape into a long earthen water-pipe which was lying on the ground. These two inseparable companions, who always supported each other, pursued the cat to the pipe, where they were seen to stop, and apparently to consult each other as to what was to be done to deceive and get possession of the poor cat. After they ad stood a short time, they divided, taking post at each end of the pipe, and began to bark alternately, thus giving the cat reason to suppose that they were both at one end, in order to induce her to come out. This manœuvre had a successful result, and the cheated cat left her hiding-place. 45 Scarcely had she ventured out, when she was seized by one of he dogs; the other hastened to his assistance, and in a few moments deprived her of life.”¶
The memory of dogs is quite extraordinary, and only equalled by that of the elephant. Mr. Swainson, in his work on the instincts of animals, gives the following proof of this. He says that “A spaniel belonging to the Rev. H. N., being always told that he must not follow his master to church on Sundays, used on those days to set off long before the service, and lie concealed under the hedge, so near the church, that at length the point was yielded to him.” My little parlour dog never offers to go with me on a Sunday, although on other days he is perfectly wild to accompany me in my walks.
In my younger days I had a favourite dog, which always accompanied me to church. My mother, seeing that he attracted too much of my attention, ordered the servant to shut him every Sunday morning. This was done once, but never afterwards; for he concealed himself early every Sunday morning, and I was sure to find him either under my seat at church, or else at the church-door. That dogs clearly distinguish the return of Sunday cannot be doubted.
The almost incredible penetration and expedition with which dogs are known to return to their former homes, from places to which they have been sent, or 46 carried in such a recluse way as not to retain a trace of the road, will ever continue to excite the greatest admiration.
A dog having been given by a gentleman at Wivenhoe to the captain of a collier, he took the dog on board his vessel, and landed him at Sunderland; but soon after his arrival there the dog was missing, and in a very few days arrived at the residence of his old master, in Essex. A still more extraordinary circumstance is upon record, of the late Colonel Hardy, who, having been sent for express to Bath, was accompanied by a favourite spaniel bitch in his chaise, which he never quitted till his arrival there. After remaining there four days, he accidentally left his spaniel behind him, and returned to his residence at Springfield, in Essex, with equal expedition; where, in three days after, his faithful and steady adherent arrived also, notwithstanding the distance between that place and Bath is 140 miles, and she had to explore her way through London, to which she had never been, except in her passage to Bath, and then within the confines of a close carriage.”¥
In the small town of Melbourne, in Derbyshire, cocks and hens may be seen running about the streets. One day a game cock attacked a small bantam, and they fought furiously, the bantam having, of course, the worst of it. Some persons were standing about looking at the fight, when my informant’s house-dog suddenly darted out, snatched up the bantam in his mouth, and carried it 47 into the house. Several of the spectators followed, believing that the poor fowl would be killed and eaten by the dog; but his intentions were of a more benevolent nature. After guarding the entrance of the kennel for some time, he trotted down the yard into the street, looked about to the right and left, and seeing that the coast was clear, he went back again, and once more returning with his protégé in his mouth, safely deposited him in the street, and walked quietly away. How few human beings would have acted as this dog had done!
Here is another curious anecdote from Mr.Davy’s work. He says that the cook in the house of a friend of his, a lady on whose accuracy he could rely, and from whom he had the anecdote, missed a marrow-bone. Suspicion fell on a well-behaved dog — a great favourite, and up to that time distinguished for his honesty. He was charged with the theft; he hung down his tail, and for a day or two was altered in his manner, having become shy, sullen, and sheepish, to use these expressions for want of better. In this mood he continued, till, to the amusement of the cook, he brought back the bone and laid it at her feet. Then, with the restoration of her stolen property, he resumed his cheerful manner. How can we interpret this conduct of the dog, better than by supposing that he was aware he had done amiss, and that the evil doing preyed on him till he had made restitution? Was not this a kind of moral sense?
If a dog finds a bone while he is accompanying his master in a walk, he does not stay behind to gnaw it, 48 but runs some distance in advance, attacks the bone, waits till his master comes up, and then proceeds forward again with it. By acting in this manner, he never loses sight of his master.
A dog has been known to convey food to another of his species who was tied up and pining for want of it. A dog has frequently been seen to plunge voluntarily into a rapid stream, to rescue another that was in danger of drowning. He has defended helpless curs from the attacks of other dogs, and learns to apportion punishment according to the provocation received, frequently disdaining to exercise his power and strength on a weaker adversary. Repeated provocation will, however, excite and revenge. For instance, a Newfoundland dog was quietly eating his mess of broth and broken scraps. While so employed, a turkey endeavoured to share the meal with him. The dog growled, and displayed his teeth. The intruder retired for a moment, but quickly returned to the charge, and was again “warned off,” with a like result. After three or four attempts of the same kind, the dog became provoked, gave a sudden ferocious growl, bit off the delinquent’s head, and then quietly finished his meal, without bestowing any further attention on his victim.
The celebrated Leibnitz related to the French Academy an account of a dog he had see which was taught to speak, and could call in an intelligible matter for tea, coffee, chocolate, &c.49
The dog was of a middling size, and the property of a peasant in Saxony. A little boy, the peasant’s son, imagined that he perceived in the dog’s voice an indistinct resemblance to certain words, and was, therefore, determined to teach him to speak distinctly. For this purpose he spared neither time nor pains with his pupil, who was about three years old when his learned education commenced; and at length he made such progress in language, as to be able to articulate no less than thirty words. It appears, however, that he was somewhat of a truant, and did not very willingly exert his talents, being rather pressed into the service of literature, and it was necessary that the words should be first pronounced to him each time before he spoke. The French Academicians who mention this anecdote, add, that unless they had received the testimony of so great a man as Leibnitz, they should scarcely have dared to relate the circumstance.
An invalid gentleman, who resided for some years on Ham Common, in Surrey, had a dog which distinctly pronounced John, William, and two or three other words. A medical friend of mine, who attended this gentleman, had frequently heard the animal utter these words; and a female relative of his, who was often on a visit at his house, assures me of the fact. Indeed it need not be doubted.
These are the only two instances I have met with of talking dogs, but my brother had a beautiful little spaniel, named Doll, who was an indefatigable hunter 50 after woodcocks and snipes. Doll would come home in the evening after a hard day’s sport, wet, tired and dirty, and then deposit herself on the rug before the fire. Happening one day to pull her ear gently when in this state, she expressed her dislike to be disturbed by a sort of singing noise. by repeating this from day to day, and saying “Sing, Doll,” she would utter notes of a somewhat musical tone, and continue for some time after I had ceased to touch her ear, to the amusement and surprise of those who heard her. Poor Doll! I shall never see your like again, either for beauty or intelligence. If she was affronted she would come to me, at a distance of four miles, remain some time, and then return to her master.
A small cur, blind of one eye, lame, ugly, old, and somewhat selfish, yet possessed of great shrewdness, was usually fed with three large gods. Watching his opportunity, he generally contrived to seize the best bit of offal or bone, with which he retreated into a recess, the opening to which was so small that he knew the other dogs could not follow him into it, and where he enjoyed his repast without the fear of molestation.
Early habits predominate strongly in dogs, and indeed in other animals. At the house of a gentleman in Wexford, out of four dogs kept to guard the premises, three of them would always wag their tails, and express what might be called civility, on the approach 51 of any well-dressed visitors; manifesting, on the other hand, no very friendly feelings toward vagrants or ill-dressed people. The fourth, — a sort of fox-hound, — which, as a puppy, had belonged to a poor man, always seemed to recognise beggars and ill-dressed passengers as old familiar friends, growling at well-attired strangers, barking vehemently at gigs, and becoming almost frantic with rage at a four-wheeled carriage.
The olfactory nerves of a dog are quite extraordinary, and it is said that, making allowance for difference of corporeal bulk, they are about four times larger than those of a man. Some dogs, however, seem to excel in acuteness of hearing, and others in peculiar powers of vision.
We quote the following from the “Percy Anecdotes:” —
“One day, when Dumont, a tradesman of the Rue St. Denis, was walking in the boulevard St. Antoine, with a friend, he offered to lay a wager with the latter, that if he were to hide a six-livre piece in the dust, his dog would discover and bring it to him. The wager was accepted, and the piece of money secreted, after being carefully marked. When the two had proceeded some distance from the spot, M. Dumont called to his dog that he had lost something, and ordered him to seek it. Caniche immediately turned back, and his master and his companion pursued their walk to the Rue St. Denis. Meanwhile a traveller, who happened 52 to be just returning in a small chaise from Vincennes, perceived the piece of money, which his horse had kicked from its hiding-place; he alighted, took it up, and drove to his inn, in the Rue Pont-aux-Choux. Caniche had just reached the spot in search of the piece when the stranger picked it up. He followed the chaise, went into the inn, and stuck close to the traveller. Having scented out the coin which he had been ordered to bring back in the pocked of the latter, he leaped up incessantly at and about him. The traveller, supposing him to be some dog that had been lost or left behind by his master, regarded his different movements as marks of fondness; and as the animal was handsome, he determined to keep him. He gave him a good supper, and on retiring to bed took him with him to his chamber. No sooner had he pulled off his breeches, than they were seized by the dog; the owner conceiving that he wanted to play with them, took them away again. The animal began to bark at the door, which the traveller opened, under the idea that the dog wanted to go out. Caniche snatched up the breeches, and away he flew. The traveller posted after him with his night-cap on, and literally sans culottes. Anxiety for the fate of a purse full of gold Napoleons, of forty francs each, which was in one of the pockets, gave redoubled velocity to his steps. Caniche ran full speed to his master’s house, where the stranger arrived a moment afterwards, breathless and enraged. He accused the dog of robbing him. ‘Sir,” said the 53 master, ‘my dog is a very faithful creature; and if he has run away with your breeches, it is because you have in them money which does not belong to you.’ The traveller became still more exasperated. ‘Compose yourself, sir,’ rejoined the other, smiling; ‘without doubt there is in your purse a six-livre piece, with such and such marks, which you have picked up in the Boulevard St. Antoine, and which I threw down there with the firm conviction that my dog would bring it back again. This is the cause of the robbery which he has committed upon you.’ The stranger’s rage now yielded to astonishment; he delivered the six-livre piece to the owner, and could not forbear caressing the dog which had given him so much uneasiness, and such an unpleasant chase.”
A gentleman in Cornwall possessed a dog, which seemed to set a value on white and shining pebble stones, f which he had made a large collection in a hole under an old tree. A dog in Regent Street is said to have barked with joy on haring the wheels of his master’s carriage driven to the door, when he could not by any possibility see the vehicle, and while many other carriages were at the time passing and repassing. This, I believe, is a fact by no means uncommon.
My retriever will carry an egg in his mouth to a great distance, and during a considerable length of time, without ever breaking or even cracking the shell. A small bird having escaped from its cage and fallen 54 into the sea, a dog conveyed it in his mouth to the ship, without doing it the slightest injury.
One of the carriers of a New York paper called the “Advocate,” having become indisposed, his son took his place; but not knowing the subscribers he was to supply, he took for his guide a dog which had usually attended his father. The animal trotted on a-head of the boy, and stopped at every door where the paper was in use to be left, without making a single omission or mistake.
The following is from a newspaper of this year: —55
“A most extraordinary circumstance had just occurred at the Hawick toll-bar, which is kept by two old women. It appears that they had a sum of money in the house, and were extremely alarmed lest they should be robbed of it. Their fears prevailed to such an extent, that, when a carrier whom they knew was passing by, they urgently requested him to remain with them all night, which, however, his duties would not permit him to do; but, in consideration of the alarm of the women, he consented to leave with them a large mastiff dog In the night the women were disturbed by the uneasiness of the dog, and heard a noise apparently like an attempt to force an entrance into the premises, upon which they escaped by the back-door, and ran to a neighbouring house, which happened to be a blacksmith’s shop. They knocked at the door, and were answered form within by the smith’s wife. She said her husband was absent, but that she was willing to accompany the terrified women to their home. On reaching the house, they heard a savage but half-stifled growling from the dog. On entering they saw the body of a man hanging half in and half out of their little window, whom the dog had seized by the throat, and was still worrying. On examination, the man proved to be their neighbour the blacksmith, dreadfully torn about the throat, and quite dead.”
A dog, belonging to the late Dr. Robert Hooper, had been in the constant habit of performing various little personal services for his master, such as fetching 56 his slippers, &c. It happened one day that Dr. Hooper had been detained by his professional duties much beyond his usual dinner hour. The dog impatiently waited for his arrival, and he at last returned, weary and hungry. After showing his pleasure at the arrival of his master, greeting him with his usual attention, the animal remained tolerably quiet until he conceived a reasonable time had elapsed for the preparation of the Doctor’s dinner. As it did not, however, make its appearance, the dog went into the kitchen, seized with his mouth a half-broiled beefsteak, with which he hastened back to his master, placing it on the table-cloth before him.
A few years ago, the public were amused with an account given in the newspapers of a dog which possessed the strange fancy of attending all the fires that occurred in the metropolis. The discovery of this predilection was made by a gentleman residing a few miles from town, who was called up in the middle of the night by the intelligence that the premises adjoining his house of business were on fire. “The removal of my books and papers,” said he, in telling the story, “of course claimed my attention; yet, notwithstanding this, and the bustle which prevailed, my eye ever now and then rested on a dog, which, during the hottest progress of the conflagration, I could not help noticing running about, and apparently taking a deep interest in what was going on; contriving to keep himself out of everybody’s way, and yet always present amidst the 57 thickest of the stir. When the fire was got under, and I had leisure to look about me, I again observed the dog, which, with the firemen, appeared to be resting from the fatigues of duty, and was led to make some inquiries respecting him. ‘Is this your dog, my friend?’ said I to a fireman. ‘No, sir,’ answered he; ‘it does not belong to me, or to any one in particular. We call him the firemen’s dog.’ ‘The firemen’s dog!’ I replied. ‘Why so? Has he no master?’ ‘No, sir,’ rejoined the fireman; ‘he calls none of us master, though we are all of us willing enough to give him a night’s lodging and a pennyworth of meat. But he won’t stay long with any of us. His delight is to be at all the fires in London; and, far or near, we generally find him on the road as we are going along, and sometimes, if it is out of town, we give him a lift. I don’t think that there has been a fire for these two or three years past which he had not been at.’
“The communication was so extraordinary, that I found it difficult to believe the story, until it was confirmed by the concurrent testimony of several other firemen. None of them, however, were able to give any account of the early habits of the dog, or to offer any explanation of the circumstances which led to this singular propensity.
“Some time afterwards, I was again called up in the night to a fire in the village in which I resided (Camberwell, in Surrey), and to my surprise here I again met with ‘the firemen’s dog,’ still alive and 58 well, pursuing, with the same apparent interest and satisfaction, the exhibition of that which seldom fails to bring with it disaster and misfortune, oftentimes loss of life and ruin. Still, he called no man master, disdained to receive bed or board from the same hand more than a night or two at a time, nor could the firemen trace out his resting-place.”
Such was the account of this interesting animal as it appeared in the newspapers, to which were shortly afterwards appended several circumstances communicated by a fireman at one of the police offices. A magistrate having asked him whether it was a fact that the dog was present at most of the fires that occurred in the metropolis, the fireman replied that he never knew “Tyke,” as he was called, to be absent from a fire upon any occasion that he (the fireman) attended himself. The magistrate said the dog must have an extraordinary predilection for fires. He then asked what length of time he had been known to possess that propensity. The fireman replied that he knew Tyke for the last nine years; and although he was getting old, yet the moment the engines were about, Tyke was to be seen as active as ever, running off in the direction of the fire. The magistrate inquired whether the dog lived with any particular fireman. the fireman replied that Tyke liked one fireman as well as another; he had no particular favourites, but passed his time amongst them, sometimes going to the house of one, and then to another, and off to a third when he was tired. Day 59 or night, it was all the same to him; if a fire broke out, there he was in the midst of the bustle, running from one engine to another, anxiously looking after the firemen; and, although pressed upon by crowds, yet, from his dexterity, he always escaped accidents, only now and then getting a ducking from the engines, which he rather liked than otherwise. The magistrate said that Tyke was a most extraordinary animal; and having expressed a wish to see him, he was shortly after exhibited at the office, and some other peculiarities respecting him were related. There was nothing at all particular in the appearance of the dog; he was a rough-looking small animal, of the terrier breed, and seemed to be in excellent condition, no doubt from the care taken of him by the firemen belonging to the different companies. There was some difficulty experienced in bringing him to the office, as he did not much relish going any distance from where the firemen are usually to be found, except in cases of attending with them at a conflagration, and then distance was of no consequence. It was found necessary to use stratagem for the purpose. A fireman commenced running, Tyke, accustomed to follow upon such occasions, set out after him; but this person, having slackened his pace on the way, the sagacious animal, knowing there was no fire, turned back, and it was necessary to carry him to the office.
The following striking anecdote, of a similar kind, appeared in the first number of the new issue of 60 Cassell’s “Illustrated Family Paper.” After giving a short account of a fire-escape man, named Samuel Wood, the writer thus alludes to his dog Bill: —
“As to Bill, he regards him evidently in the light of a friend; he had him when he was a pup from a poor fellow who died in the service, and he and his ‘Bill’ have been on excellent terms since.
“The fire-escape mans’ dog takes after his master in courage and perseverance. He is of the terrier breed, six years old. An alarm of fire calls forth all his energy. He is the first to know that something is wrong — the first to exert himself in setting it right. He has not been trained to the work — ‘it is a gift,’ as his master says; and if we all used our gifts as efficiently as the dog Bill, it would be the better for us. On an alarm of fire Bill barks his loudest, dashes about in a frantic manner, till his master and the escape are on their way to it. He, of course, is then first, giving the police and the crowd to understand that Wood and his fire-escape are coming. When the escape is fixed, and Wood begins to ascend the ladder, Bill runs up the canvas; as soon as window is opened, Bill leaps in and dashes about to find the occupants, loudly barking for assistance as soon as he has accomplished his errand of mercy. His watchfulness and sagacity are never at fault, although on more than one occasion he has stood a fair chance of losing his life, and has sustained very severe injury. Not long ago a collar was presented to Bill as a reward of his 61 services; unfortunately for him, he has since lost this token of public regard — a misfortune much to be regretted. The following verse was engraved on the collar: —
Collared or collarless, Bill is always ready to lend a helping bark. May his life be long, and his services properly esteemed!”
The following anecdote shows extraordinary sense, if not reasoning faculty, in a dog: —
A lady of high rank has a sort of colley, or Scotch sheep-dog. When he is ordered to ring the bell, he does so; but if he is told to ring the bell when the servant is in the room whose duty it is to attend, he refuses, and then the following occurrence takes place. His mistress say, “Ring the bell, dog.” The dog looks at the servant, and then barks his bow wow, once or twice. The order is repeated two or three times. At last the dog lays hold of the servant’s coat in a significant manner, just as if he had said to him — “Don’t you hear that I am to ring the bell for you? — come to my lady.” His mistress always had her shoes warmed before she put them on, but one day during the hot weather her maid was putting them on without their having been previously placed before the fire. When the dog saw this he immediately interfered, expressing the greatest indignation at the maid’s negligence. 62 He took the shoes from her, carried them to the fire, and after they had been warmed as usual, he brought them back to his mistress with much apparent satisfaction, evidently intending to say, if he could, “It is all right now.”
The dispositions and characters of dogs, as well as their intelligence, vary very much. Let me give a few instances of this.
When that benevolent man, Mr. Backhouse, went to Australia, in hopes of doing good among the convicts, he was residing in the house of a gentleman who had a son about four years of age. This boy strayed one morning into the bush, and could not be found after a long search had been made for him. In the evening a little dog, which had accompanied the child, scratched on the door, and on its being opened showed unmistakeable signs of wishing to be followed. This was done; and he led the way to the child, who was at last found sitting by the side of a river three or four miles from the house.
At Albany in Worcestershire, at the seat of Admiral Maling, a dog went every day to meet the mail, and brought the bag in his mouth to the house. The distance was about a half-a-quarter of a mile. The dog usually received a meal as his reward. The servants having, on one day only, neglected to give him his accustomed meal, the dog on the arrival of the next mail buried the bag, nor was it found without considerable search.63
M. D’Obsonville had a do which he had brought up in India from two months old; and having to go with a friend from Pondicherry to Bengalore, a distance of more than nine hundred miles, he took the animal along with him. “Our journey,” says M. D’O., “occupied nearly three weeks; and we had to traverse plains and mountains, and to ford rivers, and go along by-paths. The animal, which had certainly never been in that country before, lost us at Bengalore, and immediately returned to Pondicherry. He went directly to the house of my friend, M. Beglier, then commandant of artillery, and with whom I generally lived. Now the difficulty is not so much to know how the dog subsisted on the road (for he was very strong, and able to procure himself food), but how he should so well have found his way after an interval of more than a month! This was an effort of memory greatly superior to that which the human race is capable of exerting.”
A gentleman residing in Denmark, Mr. Decouick, one of the king’s privy councillors, found that he had a remarkable dog. It was the habit of Mr. Decouick to leave Copenhagen on Fridays for Drovengourd, his country seat. If he did not arrive there on the Friday evening, the dog would invariably be found at Copenhagen on Saturday morning, in search of his master. Hydrophobia being common, all dogs were shot that were found running about, an exception being made in the case of M. Decouick’s dog on account of 64 his sagacity and fidelity, a distinctive mark being placed upon him.
The following anecdotes are from Daniel’s “Rural Sports:” —
“Upon the fidelity of dogs, the following facts deserve to be here recorded: of this property, or other peculiar traits, if they appertain to any class of sporting dogs, in that class they will be noticed.
Dr. Beattie, in one of his ingenious and elegant essays, relates a story, in is own knowledge, of a gentleman’s life being saved, who fell beneath the ice, by his dog’s going in quest of assistance, and almost forcibly dragging a farmer to the spot.
Mr. Vaillant describes the losing of a bitch while travelling n Africa, when after firing his gun, and fruitlessly searching for her, he despatched one of his attendants, to return by the way they had proceeded; when she was found at about two leagues’ distance, seated by the side of a chair and basket, which had dropped unperceived from his waggon: and instance of attentive fidelity, which must have proved fatal to the animal, either from hunger or beasts of prey, had she not been luckily discovered.
As instances of the dog’s sagacity, the following are submitted. In crossing the mountain St. Gothard, near Airola, the Chevalier Gaspard de Brandenberg and his servant were buried by an avalanche; his dog, who escaped the heap of snow, did not quit the place where he had lost his master: this was, fortunately, not far 65 from the convent; the animal howled, ran to the convent frequently, and then returned. Struck by his perseverance, the next morning the people from the house followed him; he led them directly to the spot, scratched the snow, and after thirty-six hours passed beneath it, the chevalier and his domestic were taken out safe, hearing distinctly during their confinement the howling of the dog and the discourse of their deliverers. Sensible that to the sagacity and fondness of this creature he owed his life, the gentleman ordered by his will that he should be represented on his tomb with his dog; and at Zug, in the church of St. Oswald, where he was buried in 1728, they still show the monument and the effigy of this gentleman, with the dog lying at his feet.
In 1792, a gentleman, who live in Vere Street, Clare Market, went with his family to the pit of Drury Lane Theatre, at about half-past five in the evening, leaving a small spaniel, of King Charles’s breed, locked up in the dining-room, to prevent the dog from being lost in his absence. At eight o’clock his son opened the door, and the dog immediately went to the playhouse and found out his master, though the pit was unusually thronged, and his master seated near its centre.
A large dog of Mr. Hilson’s, of Maxwelhaugh, on the 21st of October, 1797, seeing a small one that was following a cart from Kelso carried by the current of the Tweed, in spite of all its efforts to bear up against 66 the stream, after watching its motions attentively, plunged voluntarily into the river, and seizing the tired animal by the neck, brought it safely to land.
The docility of the dog is such, that he may be taught to practise with considerable dexterity a variety of human actions: to open a door fastened by a latch, and pull a bell when desirous to be admitted. Faber mentions one belonging to a nobleman of the Medici family, which always attended at its master’s table, took from him his plates, and brought him others; carried wine to him in a glass upon a salver, which it held in its mouth, without spilling; the same dog would also hold the stirrup in its teeth while its master was mounting his horse. Mr. Daniel had formerly a spaniel, which he gave the honourable Mr. Grevile, that, beyond the common tricks which dogs trained to fetch and carry exhibit, would bring the bottles of wine from the corner f the room to the table by the neck, with such care as never to break one; and, in fact, was the bootsof the mess-room.
Colonel Hutchinson relates the following anecdote: —67
“A cousin of one of my brother-officers was taking a walk at Tunbridge Wells, when a strange Newfoundland snatched her parasol from her hand, and carried it off. The lady followed the dog, who kept ahead, constantly looking back to see if she followed. Te dog at length stopped at a confectioner’s, and went in, followed by the lady, who, as the dog would not resign it, applied to the shopman for assistance. He then told her that it was an old trick of the dog’s to get a bun, and that if she would give him one he would return the property. She cheerfully did so, and the dog as willingly made the exchange.”
The above anecdote proves that dogs are not mean observers of countenances, and that he had satisfied himself by a previous scrutiny as to the probability f his delinquencies being forgiven.
Of the abstinence and escape of a dog, the following narrative may not be uninteresting: —
In 1789, when preparations were making at St. Paul’s for the reception of his majesty, a favourite dog followed its master up the dark stairs of the dome. Here, all at once, it was missing; and calling and whistling were to no purpose. Nine weeks after this, all but two days, some glaziers were at work in the cathedral, and heard a faint noise amongst the timbers which support the dome. Thinking it might be some unfortunate human being, they tied a rope round a boy, and let him down near the place where the sound came. at the bottom he found a dog lying on its 68 side, the skeleton of another dog, and an old shoe half eaten. The humanity of the boy led him to rescue the animal from its miserable situation, and it was accordingly drawn up. Much emaciated, and scarce able to stand, the workmen placed it in the porch of the church, to die or live as it might happen. This was about ten o’clock in the morning. Some time after, the dog was seen endeavouring to cross the street at the top of Ludgate Hill; but its weakness was so great, that, unsupported by a wall, it could not accomplish it. The miserable appearance of the dog again excited the compassion of a boy, who carried it over. By the aid of the houses it was enabled to get to Fleet Market, and over two or three narrow crossings in its way to Holborn Bridge, and about eight o’clock in the evening it reached its master’s house in Red Lion Street, Holborn, and laid itself down on the steps, having been ten hours in its journey from St. Paul’s to that place. The dog was so much altered, its eyes being so sunk in its head as to be scarce discernible, that the master would not encourage his faithful old companion, who when lost was supposed to weigh twenty pounds, but now only weighed three pounds fourteen ounces. The first indication it gave of knowing its master was by wagging its tail when he mentioned its name, Phillis; for a long time it was unable to eat or drink, and it was kept alive by the sustenance it received from its mistress, who used to feed it with a teaspoon. At length it recovered. It must not be supposed that this 69 animal existed for nine weeks without food; she was in whelp when lost, and doubtless ate her young. The remains of another dog, killed by a similar fall, were likewise found, and were most probably converted by the survivor to the most urgent of all natural purposes; and when this treat was done, the shoe succeeded, which was almost half devoured. What famine and a thousand accidents could not do, was effected a short time after by the wheels of a coach, which unfortunately went over her, and ended the life of poor Phillis.
Of dogs that have supported themselves in a wild state, to the great loss and annoyance of the farmer, there are two instances worthy of notice, from the cunning with which both these dogs frustrated, for a length of time, every secret and open attack. In December, 1784, a dog was left by a smuggling vessel near Boomer, on the coast of Northumberland. Finding himself deserted, he began to worry sheep, and did so much damage that he was the terror of the country, within the circuit of above twenty miles. It is asserted, that when he caught a sheep, he bit a hole in its right side, and after eating the fat about the kidneys, left it. Several of them, thus lacerated, were found alive by the shepherds; and being properly taken care of, some of them recovered, and afterwards had lambs. From this delicacy of his feeding, the destruction may in some measure be conceived, as the fat of one sheep in a day would scarcely satisfy his 70 hunger. Various were the means used to destroy him: frequently was he pursued with hounds, greyhounds, &c., but when the dogs came up with him, he laid down on his back, as if supplicating for mercy, and in that position they never hurt him; he therefore laid quietly, taking his rest, until the hunters approached, when he made off without being followed by the hounds, until they were again excited to the pursuit, which always terminated unsuccessfully. He was one day pursued from Howick to upwards of thirty miles’ distance, but returned thither and killed sheep the same evening. His constant residence was upon a rock on the Heugh Hill, near Howick, where he had a view of four roads that approached it; and there, in March 1785, after many fruitless attempts, he was at last shot.
Another wild dog, which had committed similar devastation among the sheep, near Wooler, in the same county (Northumberland), was, on the 6th of June, 1799, advertised to be hunted on the Wednesday following, by three packs of hounds, which were to meet at different places; the aid of men and fire-arms was also requested, with a reward promised of twenty guineas to the person killing him. This dog was described by those who had seen him at a distance as a large greyhound, with some white in his face, neck and one fore-leg white, rather grey on the back, and the rest of a jet-black. An immense concourse of people assembled at the time appointed, but 71 the chase was unprosperous; for he eluded his pursuers among the Cheviot Hills, and, what is singular, returned that same night to the place from whence he had been hunted in the morning, and worried an ewe and her lamb. During the whole summer he continued to destroy the sheep, but changed his quarters, for he infested the fells, sixteen miles south of Carlisle, where upwards of sixty sheep fell victims to his ferocity. In September, hounds and fire-arms were again employed against him, and after a run from Carrock Fell, which was computed to be thirty miles, he was shot whilst the hounds were in pursuit by Mr. Sewel of Wedlock, who laid in ambush at Moss Dale. During the chase, which occupied six hours, he frequently turned upon the headmost hounds, and wounded several so badly as to disable them. Upon examination, he appeared of the Newfoundland breed, of a common size, wire-haired, and extremely lean. This description does not tally with the dog so injurious to the farmers in Northumberland, although, from circumstances, there is little doubt but it was the same animal.
With a laughably philosophical account of dogs, under the supposition of a transmigration of souls, and with their general natural history from Linnæus and Buffon, this introductory chapter will be concluded.
A facetious believer in the art of distinguishing at the sight of any creature from what class of animals his soul is derived, thus allots them: —
Te souls of deceased bailiffs and common constables 72 are in the bodies of setting dogs and pointers; the terriers are inhabited by trading justices; the bloodhounds were formerly a set of informers, thief-takers, and false evidences; the spaniels were heretofore courtiers, hangers-on of administrations, and hack journal-writers, all of whom preserve their primitive qualities of fawning on their feeders, licking their hands, and snarling and snapping at all who offer to offend their master; a former train of gamblers and black-legs are now embodied in that species of dog called lurchers; bull-dogs and mastiffs were once butchers and drovers; greyhounds and hounds over owe their animation to country squires and foxhunters; little whiffling, useless lap-dogs, draw their existence from the quondam beau; macaronies, and gentlemen of the tippy, still being the playthings of ladies, and used for their diversion. There are also a set of sad dogs derived from attornies; and puppies, who were in past time attornies’ clerks, shopmen to retail haberdashers, men-milliners, &c, &c. Turnspits are animated by old aldermen, who still enjoy the smell of the roast meat; that droning, snarling species, styled Dutch pugs, have been fellows of colleges; and that faithful, useful tribe of shepherd’s dogs, were, in days of yore, members of parliament, who guarded the flock, and protected the sheep from wolves and thieves, although indeed of late some have turned sheep-biters, and worried those they ought to have defended.
Linnæus informs us, the dog eats flesh, and 73 farinaceous vegetables, but not greens, (this is a mistake, for they will eat greens when boiled); its stomach digests bones; it uses the tops of grass as a vomit; is fond of rolling in carrion; voids its excrements on a stone; its dung (the album græcum) is one of the greatest encouragers of putrefaction; it laps up its drink with its tongue; makes water side-ways, by lifting up one of its hind-legs; is most diuretic in the company of a strange dog, and very apt to repeat it where another dog has done the same: Odorat anum alteriuis, menstruans catulit cum variis; mordet illa illos; cohæret copula junctus. Its scent is most exquisite when its nose is moist; it treads lightly on its toes; scarce every sweats, but when hot, lolls out its tongue; generally walks frequently round the place it intends to lie down on; its sense of hearing is very quick when asleep; it dreams. It goes with young sixty-three days, and commonly brings from four to ten; the male puppies resemble the dog, the female the bitch (an assertion by no means accurate, any more than the tail always bending to the left is a common character of the species). It is the most faithful of animals, is very docile, fawns at his master’s approach, runs before him on a journey, often passing over the same ground; on coming to crossways, stops and looks back; drives cattle home from the field; keeps hers and flocks within bounds, protects them from wild beasts; points out to the sportsman the game; brings the birds that are shot to its master; will turn a spit; at Brussels, 74 and in Holland, draws little carts to the herb-market; in more northern regions, draws sledges with provisions, travellers, &c; will find out what is dropped; watchful by night, and when the charge of a house or garden is at such times committed to him, his boldness increases, and he sometimes becomes perfectly ferocious; when it has been guilty of a theft, slinks away with its tail between its legs; eats voraciously, with oblique eyes; enemy to beggars;. attacks strangers without provocation; hates strange dogs; howls at certain notes in music, and often urines on hearing them; will snap at a stone thrown at it; is sick at the approach of bad weather, (a remark vague and uncertain); is afflicted with worms; spreads its madness; grows blind with age; sæpe gonorrhæ´ infectus; driven as unclean from the houses of the Mahometans; yet the same people establish hospitals for, and allow them daily food.
The dog, says Buffon, like every other animal which produces above one or two at a time, is not perfectly formed immediately after birth. Dogs are always brought forth blind; the two eyelids are not simply glued together, but shut up with a membrane, which is torn off, as soon as the eyelids acquire strength sufficient to overcome the obstacle to vision, which generally happens the tenth or twelfth day. At this period, the bones of the head are not completed, the body and muzzle are bloated, and the whole figure is ill defined; but in less than two months, they learn to use all their senses; their 75 growth is rapid, and they soon gain strength. In the fourth month, they lose some of their teeth, which, as in other animals are soon replaced, and never again fall out: they have six cutting and two canine teeth in each jaw, and fourteen grinders in the upper, and twelve in the under, making in all forty-two teeth; but the number of grinders sometimes varies in particular dogs.
The time of gestation is nine weeks, or sixty-three days; sometimes sixty-two or sixty-one, but never less than sixty.
The bitch produces six, seven, and even so far as twelve puppies, and generally has more at the subsequent litters then she has at the first; but the observation of Buffon, that a female hound, covered by a dog of her own kind, and carefully shut up from all others, has been known to produce a mixed race, consisting of hounds and terriers, is totally void of foundation. A curious circumstance, in the account of the setter, will be mentioned, of an impression made upon the mind of a bitch of that sort by the attention of a cur, which never had access to her, and yet her whelps were always like him, and possibly this hound bitch had a violent hankering after some terrier.
Dogs continue to propagate during life, which is commonly limited to fourteen and fifteen years, yet some have been known to exceed twenty, but that is rare. The duration of life in this, as in other animals, bears proportion 76 to the time of his growth, which in the dog is not completed in less than two years, and he generally lives fourteen. His age may be discovered by his teeth, when young, they are white, sharp, and pointed; as he increases in years, they became black, blunt, and unequal: it may likewise be known by the hair, which turns grey on the muzzle, front, and round the eyes.
The manner in which the shepherds of the Pyrenees employ their peculiar breed of dogs, which are large, long-haired, of a tawny white colour, and a very strong build, with a ferocious temper, exhibit’s a vivid instance of the trust they repose in the courage and fidelity of these animals, and of the virtues by which they merit and reward it. Attended by there or more dogs, the shepherds will take their numerous flocks at early dawn to the part of the mountain side which is destined for their pasture. Having counted them, they descend to follow other occupations, and commit the guardianship of the sheep to the sole watchfulness of the dogs. It has been frequently known, that when wolves have approached, the three sentinels would walk round and round the flock, gradually compressing them into so small a circle that one dog might with ease overlook and protect them, and that this measure of caution being executed, the remaining two would set forth to engage the enemy, over whom, it is said, they invariably triumph.
The following interesting remarks are extracted from Chambers: —77
The educability of the dog’s perceptive faculties had been exemplified in a remarkable manner by his acquired knowledge of musical sounds. On some dogs fine music produces an apparently painful effect, causing them gradually to become restless, to moan piteously, and, finally, to fly from the spot with every sign of suffering and distress. Others have been seen to sit and listen to music with seeming delight, and even to go every Sunday to church, with the obvious purpose of enjoying the solemn and powerful strains of the organ. Some dogs manifest a keen sense of false notes in music. Mrs. Samuel Carter Hall, at Old Brompton, possesses an Italian greyhound, which screams in apparent agony when a jarring combination of notes is produced, accidentally or intentionally, on the piano. These opposite and various manifestations show what might be done by education to teach dogs a critical knowledge of sounds. A gentleman of Darmstadt, in Germany, as we learn, has taught a poodle dog to detect false notes in music. We give the account of this remarkable instance of educability as it appears in a French newspaper.
Mr. S——, having acquired a competency by commercial industry, retired from business, and devoted himself, heart and soul, to the cultivation and enjoyment of music. Every member of his little household was by degrees involved more or less in the same occupation, and even the housemaid could in time bear a part in a chorus, or decipher a melody of Schubert. 78 One individual alone in the family seemed to resist this musical entrancement; this was a small spaniel, the sole specimen of the canine race in the mansion. Mr. S—— felt the impossibility of instilling the theory of sounds into the head of Poodle, but he firmly resolved to make the animal bear some part or other in the general domestic concert; and by perseverance, and the adoption of ingenious means, he attained his object. Every time that a false note escaped either from the instrument or voice — as often as any blunder, of whatever kind, was committed by the members of the musical family (and such blunders were sometimes committed intentionally) — down came its master’s cane on the back of the unfortunate poodle, till she howled and growled again. Poodle perceived the meaning of these unkind chastisements, and instead of becoming sulky, showed every disposition to howl on the instant a false note was uttered, without waiting for the formality of a blow. By and by, a mere glance of Mr. S——’s eye was sufficient to make the animal howl to admiration. In the end, Poodle became so thoroughly acquainted with, and attentive to, false notes and other musical barbarisms, that the slightest mistake of the kind was infallibly signalised by a yell from her, forming the most expressive commentary upon the misperformance.
When extended trials were made of the animal’s acquirements, they were never found to fail, and Poodle became, what she still is, the most famous, impartial and conscientious connoisseur in the Duchy of Hesse. 79 But, as may be imagined, her musical appreciation is entirely negative; if you sing with expression, and play with ability, she will remain cold and impassible. But let your execution exhibit the slightest defect, and you will have her instantly showing her teeth, whisking her tail, yelping, barking, and growling. At the present time, there is not a concert or an opera at Darmstadt to which Mr. S—— and his wonderful dog are not invited; or, at least, the dog. The voice of the prima donna, the instruments of the band — whether violin, clarinet, hautbois, or bugle — all of hem must execute their parts in perfect harmony, otherwise Poodle looks at its master, erects its ears, shows its grinders, and howls outright. Old or new pieces, known or unknown to the dog, produce on it the same effect.
It must not be supposed that the discrimination of the creature is confined to the mere execution of musical composition. Whatever may have been the case at the outset of its training, its present and perfected intelligence extends even to the secrets of composition. Thus, if a vicious modulation, or a false relation of parts, occur in a piece of music, the animal shows symptoms of uneasy hesitation; and if the error be continued, will infallibly give the grand condemnatory howl. In short, Poodle is the terror of all the middle composers of Darmstadt, and a perfect nightmare to the imagination of all poor singers and players. Sometimes Mr. S—— and his friends take a pleasure in annoying the canine critic, by emitting all sorts of 80 discordant sounds from instrument and voice. On such occasions the creature loses all self-command, its eyes shoot forth fiery flashes, and long and frightful howls respond to the immelodious concert of the mischievous bipeds. But the latter must be careful not to go too far; for when the dog’s patience is tried to excess, it becomes altogether wild, and flies fiercely at the tormentors and their instruments.
This dog’s case is a very curios one, and the attendant phenomena not very easy of explanation. From the animal’s power of discerning the correctness of musical composition, as well as of execution, one would be inclined to imagine that Mr. S——, in training his dog, had only called into play faculties existing (but latent) before, and that dogs have in them the natural germs of a fine musical ear. This seems more likely to be the case, than that the animal’s perfect musical taste was wholly an acquirement, resulting from the training. However this may be, the Darmstadt dog is certainly a marvellous creature, and we are surprised that, in these exhibiting times, its powers have not been displayed on a wider stage. The operatic establishments of London and Paris might be greatly the better, perhaps, for a visit from the critical Poodle.
It is now settled, as a philosophical questions, that the instruction communicated to dogs, as well as various other animals, has an hereditary effect on the progeny. If a dog be taught to perform certain feats, 81 the young of that dog will be much easier initiated in the same feats than other dogs. Thus, the existing races of English pointers are greatly more accomplished in their required duties than the original race of Spanish pointers. Dogs of the St. Bernard variety inherit the faculty of tracking footsteps in the snow. A gentleman of our acquaintance, and of scientific acquirements, obtained some years ago a pup, which had been produced in London by a female of the celebrated St. Bernard breed. The young animal was brought to Scotland, where it was never observed to give any particular tokens of a power of tracking footsteps until winter, when the ground became covered with snow. It then showed the most active inclination to follow footsteps; and so great was its power of doing so under these circumstances, that, when its master had crossed a field in the most curvilinear way, and caused other persons to cross his path in all directions, it nevertheless followed his course with the greatest precision. Here was a perfect revival of the habit of its Alpine fathers, with a degree of specialty as to external conditions at which, it seems to us, we cannot sufficiently wonder.
Such are some of the qualities of dogs in a state of domestication, and let me hope that the anecdotes related of them will tend to insure for them that love and gratitude to which their own fine disposition and noble character give them a claim from us.
It is pleasing to observe that men of the highest 82 acquirements and most elevated minds have bestowed their sincere attachment upon their favourite canine companions; for kindness to animals is, perhaps, as strong an indication of the possession of generous sentiments as any that can be adduced. The late Lord Grenville, a distinguished statesman, an elegant scholar, and an amiable man, affords an illustration of the opinion: It is thus that he eloquently makes his favourite Zephyr speak: —
In the previous pages I have endeavoured to give my readers some idea of the general character of the dog, and I will now proceed to illustrate it more fully by anecdotes peculiar to different breeds. these animals will then be found to deserve the encomiums bestowed upon them by Buffon, “as possessing such an ardour of sentiment, with fidelity and constancy in their affection, 83 that neither ambition, interest, nor desire of revenge, can corrupt them, and that they have no fear but that of displeasing. They are, in fact, all zeal, ardour, and obedience. More inclined to remember benefits than injuries; more docile and tractable than any other animal, the dog is not only instructed, but conforms himself to the manner, movements, and habits of those who govern him. He is always eager to obey his master, and will defend his property at the risk of his own life.” Pope says, that history is more full of examples of fidelity in the dog than in friends; and Lord Byron characterises him as —
And truly indeed may he be called
“The rich man’s guardian, and the poor man’s friend.”
* Daniel’s “Rural Sports.”
§ Daniel’s “Rural Sports.”
¶ Thornton’s “Instincts.”
¥ “Sportsman’s Cabinet.”