Hospital Dogs

[June 26, 1875.]

Dr. Walter F. Atlee writes to the editor of the Philadelphia Medical


"In a letter recently received from Lancaster, where my father resides,

it is said:--'A queer thing occurred just now. Father was in the office,

and heard a dog yelping outside the door; he paid no attention until a

second and louder yelp was heard, when he opened it, and found a little

brown dog standing on the step upon three legs. He brought him in, and

on examining the fourth leg, found a pin sticking in it. He drew out the

pin, and the dog ran away again.' The office of my father, Dr. Atlee, is

not directly on the street, but stands back, having in front of it some

six feet of stone wall with a gate. I will add, that it has not been

possible to discover anything more about this dog.

"This story reminds me of something similar that occurred to me while

studying medicine in this same office nearly thirty years ago. A man,

named Cosgrove, the keeper of a low tavern near the railroad station,

had his arm broken, and came many times to the office to have the

dressings arranged. He was always accompanied by a large, most

ferocious-looking bull-dog, that watched me most attentively, and most

unpleasantly to me, while bandaging his master's arm. A few weeks after

Cosgrove's case was discharged, I heard a noise at the office door, as

if some animal was pawing it, and on opening it, saw there this huge

bull-dog, accompanied by another dog that held up one of its front legs,

evidently broken. They entered the office. I cut several pieces of wood,

and fastened them firmly to the leg with adhesive plaster, after

straightening the limb. They left immediately. The dog that came with

Cosgrove's dog I never saw before nor since."

Do not these stories adequately show that the dogs reasoned and drew new

inferences from a new experience?


[April 6, 1889.]

Knowing your interest in dogs, I venture to send you the following

story. A week or two ago, the porter of the Bristol Royal Infirmary was

disturbed one morning about 6.30 by the howling of a dog outside the

building. Finding that it continued, he went out and tried to drive it

away; but it returned and continued to howl so piteously, that he was

obliged to go out to it again. This time he observed that one of its

paws was injured. He therefore brought it in and sent for two nurses,

who at once dressed the paw, and were rewarded by every canine sign of

gratitude, including much licking of their hands. The patient was

"retained" for two days, during which time he received every attention

from those inside the house, and from the neighbours outside, who

quickly heard of the case. As no one appeared to claim the dog, he was

sent to the Home for Lost Dogs in the city, where so interesting an

animal was, of course, not long in finding a purchaser. The dog was one

of those called "lurchers."

I have myself called on the porter of the infirmary for confirmation of

the story, and am assured by him of its truth. How did an apparently

friendless dog know where to go for surgical aid? The case differs from

that of the dog which took its friend for treatment to King's College

Hospital in London, for I understand that the King's College dog had

previously been taken to the hospital for treatment itself; but in this

case there is no such clue.