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
r /> 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.