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 back

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.