An Australian Dog-story

[May 11, 1895.]

Seeing the great interest which many of your readers take in the study

of canine character and intelligence, I think perhaps the following

incident is worth recording. Whilst walking with a lady friend along

Studley Park Road, Kew (a residential suburb of Melbourne), on a very

quiet afternoon some time ago, we were surprised by a large St. Bernard

dog, which came up to us and deliberately
awed my leg several times.

Our perplexity at his extraordinary behaviour was perhaps not unmixed

with a little misgiving, for he was an animal of formidable size and

strength; but as he gave evident signs of satisfaction at our noticing

him, and proceeded to trot on in front--at intervals looking round to

make sure we were following--we became interested. When we had followed

him about forty yards, he stopped before a door in a high garden wall,

and, looking round anxiously to see that we were noticing, reached up

his paw in the direction of the latch. On stretching forth my hand to

unfasten the door, his extreme pleasure was exhibited in a most

unmistakable manner; but when he saw me try in vain to open it, he

became quiet, and looked at me with an expression so manifestly anxious

that I could no more have left the poor animal thus than I could have

left a helpless little child in a similar position. With eager attention

and expectancy he listened while I knocked, and when at last some one

was heard coming down the garden path, he bounded about with every sign

of unlimited joy.

Now here was one of the so-called "brutes," which, failing to get in at

a certain door, cast about for a way out of the difficulty, and seeing

us some distance down the road (we were the only persons in sight at the

time), he had come to us, attracted our attention, taken us to the door,

and told us he wanted it opened. We both agreed that the animal had all

through shown a play of emotion and intelligence comparable to that of

a human being; and, indeed, we felt so much akin to the noble creature

that we have both, since then, been very loath to class dogs as

"inferior animals."