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A Ruse Dog

[March 21, 1885.]

A story which came to my knowledge a few months ago may be of interest
in connection with the Spectator's series of anecdotes illustrating
the intelligence of animals.

One summer afternoon a group of children were playing at the end of a
pier which projects into Lake Ontario, near Kingston, New York, U.S.A.
The proverbial careless child of the party made the proverbial backward
step off from the pier into the water. None of his companions could save
him, and their cries had brought no one from the shore, when, just as he
was sinking for the third time, a superb Newfoundland dog rushed down
the pier into the water and pulled the boy out. Those of the children
who did not accompany the boy home took the dog to a confectioner's on
the shore, and fed him with as great a variety of cakes and other sweets
as he would eat. So far the story is, of course, only typical of scores
of well-known cases. The individuality of this case is left for the

The next afternoon the same group of children were playing at the same
place, when the canine hero of the day before came trotting down to them
with the most friendly wags and nods. There being no occasion this time
for supplying him with delicacies, the children only stroked and patted
him. The dog, however, had not come out of pure sociability. A child in
the water and cakes and candy stood to him in the close and obvious
relation of cause and effect, and if this relation was not clear to the
children he resolved to impress it upon them. Watching his chance, he
crept up behind the child who was standing nearest to the edge of the
pier, gave a sudden push, which sent him into the water, then sprang in
after him, and gravely brought him to shore.

To those of us who have had a high respect for the disinterestedness of
dogs, this story may give a melancholy proof that the development of the
intelligence, at the expense of the moral nature, is by no means
exclusively human.


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