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A Dog And A Rabbit

[Sept. 29, 1888.]

Mr. Ainger, in giving his interesting incident of strange friendships
between animals, asks if there are any precedents for such incongruous
intimacy as he saw between a dog and a pigeon. To most close observers
of animals, such curious cases, though always noteworthy, are well
known; naturalists like Buckland and many others have frequently
recorded them.

With the view of adding to the lore on this matter, permit me to cite
the following. Two Scotch terriers are lying before the fire. Prince is
an amiable sort of dog; Jack is rather surly; both good vermin-killers
and fond of hunting. I bring in a common buck rabbit, and place it
beside the dogs, with the intimation they were not to touch it. Trust,
and then alliance, quickly grew between it and Prince, whilst Jack shows
unmistakable hatred. In a few days the two friends, with their paws
absurdly clasping each other's necks, sleep happily on the rug; they
play together, they chase each other up and down the stairs and all over
the house at full speed, and when tired come back to the rug. Jack
refusing all this sort of thing, makes the rabbit look at him with a
sort of awe. Does Bunny make no mess in the house? None whatever; he
goes into the garden as the dogs do, and like them, scratches at the
door when he wants to return. All this he does without any instruction
from us. After a while, being very fond of him, we put on the floor a
pretty pink-eyed doe as a present. He stares, sniffs her all over, kills
her on the spot, and goes for a romp with his dear Prince. Jack always
sleeps under my bed from choice, and just before I put out the light as
I lie, stands up against the bed for his last pat and "good-night."
Bunny has observed all this, and quietly creeps into the room, which he
refuses to leave; then likewise always asks for his "good-night," and
sleeps somewhere near his great "ideal."

Another instance, published in "Loch Creran" by my friend Mr. Anderson
Smith. I punished my cat for killing a chicken. The next day he is seen
to carry a live chicken in his mouth and lay it down to the hen he had
previously robbed. He and the chicken afterwards were frequently
observed leaving the orchard together, and travelling through the
courtyard and back passages, find their way to the kitchen fireplace,
where they would sleep in good fellowship. This chicken, I discovered,
had been stolen nearly two miles away. It is important to remark that
the cat, though a cruel bird-killer, never touched another chicken. Was
the idea of compensation in the cat's mind? If not that, all the
circumstances are singularly coincident. And why did the chicken prefer
the cat's companionship to that of its fellows?


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