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Guardian Dogs

[July 15, 1892.]

Having read for years your interesting letters and articles on animals
in the Spectator, I feel sure you will like to have a thoroughly
authentic account of a dog in this neighbourhood. I am allowed to give
the name of the owner, who is living at Lyme Regis, where I was staying
last week. The two incidents happened within a few weeks of each other.

Mrs. and Miss Coode were alone in their house (except the servants); and
one night Miss Coode was awakened by hearing two knocks at her door and
a slight whine. It was between three and four o'clock in the morning.
She rose and opened the door to find the dog there, and at the same time
noticed and heard a stream of water running down the stairs. She went up
the staircase to its source, and aroused the servants to attend to it.
As soon as the dog saw that the matter was being remedied, he quietly
went back to the mat in the hall and went to sleep again. The dog is a
large one, a cross between a retriever and a greyhound--a very beautiful
creature, resembling a poacher's lurcher.

The second incident occurred only last week, when Miss Coode was again
aroused. This time by a loud crash, as if a picture had fallen. Almost
immediately the dog bounded upstairs, threw himself against the door,
which happened to be ajar, burst into the room, panting and eyes
glistening,--this, at least, Miss Coode saw as soon as she struck a
light, for it was between twelve and one o'clock. She went out on to the
staircase and downstairs to look at the pictures in the drawing-room.
The dog would not follow. The cook, coming down from her room, called
him a coward not to go with his mistress, but Sheppard did not move.
Miss Coode found all safe below, and returned upstairs, and the dog went
with her to the top floor, where the ceiling of a small room had fallen
in. He then retired to his mat, having done his duty. He also showed his
sagacity in going to the daughter's room--the one most capable of seeing
to matters. Hoping, as a dog-lover, that this may interest all such, and
help to prove that dogs think and reason more than some human
beings--also to show that we often inferior beings have no right to
presuppose that the superior animals have no souls.


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