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The Dog And The Ferry





[April 4, 1885.]

Reading from time to time many pleasant anecdotes in the columns of the
Spectator--which, by the way, I receive as regularly, and read as
eagerly, as when resident in England many years ago--relative to the
sagacity of dogs, I send the following, thinking it possible you may
deem it worthy of insertion.

Some three years ago I was "having a spell" in Brisbane, after a
lengthened sojourn on a sheep station in the interior of Queensland.
During my stay in the city I had the good fortune to gain the friendship
of a gentleman who owned a magnificent collie. My friend, his dog Sweep,
and myself, were frequently together, engaged either in yachting among
the islands of Moreton Bay, or 'possum hunting under the towering
eucalypti which fringe the banks of the river Brisbane. Naturally
"Sweep" (who was a most lovable animal) and myself soon began to
entertain a warm friendship for one another, which friendship gave rise
to the anecdote I am about to relate. Returning to my hotel about
midnight from the house of a friend, I was not a little startled at
finding my hand suddenly seized from behind by a dog, which, however, I
at once recognised as my handsome acquaintance, Sweep. I patted him, at
the same time endeavouring to withdraw the hand which he held firmly,
but gently, between his teeth. It was of no use, as, in spite of all my
endearments, he insisted on retaining his hold, wriggling along by my
side, and vigorously wagging his tail, as though he would say, "Don't be
afraid; it's all right." We soon reached a point in the main street down
which we were walking, where a side avenue branched off towards the
river. My way lay right ahead. Sweep, however, insisted on my taking the
road which lay at a right-angle to my course. I felt some annoyance at
his persistence, as I was both tired and sleepy; but, having no choice
in the matter, I followed his lead. Having walked some two or three
hundred yards down his street, he released his hold, dancing round
me, then running on for a few yards and looking back to see if I were
following. Becoming interested, I determined to see what he was after,
so, without further resistance, I followed submissively. At last, having
reached the river, which at this place was about four hundred yards
wide, he, with many joyous barks, ran down the ferry steps, and jumped
into the empty boat of the ferryman. At last I was able to guess at his
motive for forcing me to follow him. His master, who lived across the
river, had accidentally lost sight of his dog returning from his office
in the city; and Sweep appeared to understand perfectly that unless the
boatman received his fare he, Sweep, would not be carried over, my
friend frequently sending the dog over by himself when wishing to attend
concerts, &c., invariably paying the fare as of an ordinary passenger.
The ferryman, who at once recognised my canine friend, laughed heartily
when I told him how I had been served, took my penny, and set off at
once for "Kangaroo Point," Sweep gaily barking "good-night" until he
reached the opposite bank. I heard subsequently that he used to swim the
river when left behind; but having had two narrow escapes from sharks,
his nerves had become somewhat shaken so far as water was concerned.

J. WM. CREIGHTON.





Next: The Reason Of Dogs

Previous: Canine Intelligence



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