As for the different members of the family, the dog will "size them up" with an unerring instinct. It is impossible to conceal any weakness of character from him; and if you are strong, he will know that too. As I write these lines, the vision of "Mr. Guppy" rises before me. Mr. Guppy was a very small Boston terrier, with a white head, but otherwise of a brindle color. He had a beautiful "mug," much like that of a bull-dog, with a short nose, wide jaws, and plenty of loose skin hanging about his stout little neck. It must be admitted that he was somewhat self-indulgent, being continually on the watch for a chance to lie close by the fire, — a situation considered by his friends to be unwholesome for him. Mr. Guppy understood me very well. He knew that I was a poor, weak, easy-going, absent-minded creature, with whom he could take liberties; and accordingly, when we were alone together, the rogue would lie sleeping with his head on the hearth, while I was absorbed in my book. But hark! there is a step on the stairs, of one whom Mr. Guppy both loved and feared more than any dog ever loved or feared me; and forthwith the little impostor would rise, and crawl softly back to his place on a rug in the corner; and there he would be found lying and winking, with an expression of perfect innocence when the disciplinarian entered the room.
Dogs have the same sensitiveness that we associate with well-bred men and women. Their politeness is remarkable. Offer a dog water when he is not thirsty, and he will almost always take a lap or two, just out of civility, and to show his gratitude. I know a group of dogs that never forget to come and tell their mistress when they have had their dinner, feeling sure that she will sympathize with them; and if they have failed to get it, they will notify her immediately of the omission. If you happen to step on a dog's tail or paw, how eagerly — after one irrepressible yelp of pain — will he tell you by his caresses that he knows you did not mean to hurt him and forgives you !
In their relations with one another, also, dogs have a keen sense of etiquette. A well-known traveler makes this unexpected remark about a tribe of naked black men, living on one of the South Sea Islands: "In their everyday intercourse there is much that is stiff, formal, and precise." Almost the same remark might be made about dogs. Unless they are on very intimate terms, they take great pains never to brush against or even to touch one another. For one dog to step over another is a dangerous breach of etiquette unless they are special friends. It is no uncommon thing for two dogs to belong to the same person, and live in the same house, and yet never take the slightest notice of each other. We have a spaniel so dignified that he will never permit another member of the dog family to pillow his head on him; but, with the egotism of a true aristocrat, he does not hesitate to make use of the other dogs for that purpose.
Often canine etiquette is so subtle that one has much difficulty in following it out. In our household are two uncongenial dogs, who, in ordinary circumstances, completely ignore each other, and between whom any familiarity would be resented fiercely. And yet, when we are all out walking, if I am obliged to scold or punish one of these two, the other will run up to the offender, bark at him, and even jostle him, as if he were saying, "Well, old man, you got it that time; are n't you ashamed of yourself?" And the other dog, feeling that he is in the wrong, I suppose, submits meekly to the insult.
A family of six dogs used to pair off in couples, each couple being on terms of special intimacy and affection; and beside these relationships mere were many others among mem. For example, they all deferred to the oldest dog, although he was smaller and weaker than the rest. If a fight began, he would jump in between the contestants and stop it; if a dog misbehaved, he would rush at the offender with a warning growl; and this exercise of authority was never resented. The other dogs seemed to respect his weight of years, his character, which was of the highest, and his moral courage, which was undoubted. This same dog — his name was Pedro — had many human traits. He and his companions slept together on a sofa upstairs, where, of a cold night, they would curl up together in an indistinguishable heap. Sometimes the old dog would put himself to bed before the others, and then, finding that he needed the warmth and companionship of their presence, he would go into the hall, put his head between the balusters, and whine softly until they came upstairs to join him.
That animals reason is a fact of everyday experience. That they can communicate their wants and feelings to one another and to man is equally plain. "When a cat or a dog," wrote the late Mr. Romanes, "pulls one's dress to lead one to the kittens or puppies in need of assistance, the animal is behaving in the same manner as a deaf mute might behave when invoking assistance from a friend. That is to say, the animal is translating the logic of feelings into the logic of signs; and so far as this particular action is concerned, it is psychologically indistinguishable from that which is performed by the deaf mute".
Mentally, we are not so many epochs removed from the other animals, and emotionally the connection is closer yet I will not discuss the question whether dumb animals have any sense of right and wrong. I believe that they have this sense in a rudimentary degree ; or at least that it is latent in them, and may be developed. The popular instinctive notions about animals, the result of the experience of the race, seem to justify this view. "If we say a vicious horse," remarked Dr. Arnold, "why not a virtuous horse?" — And we do speak of a "kind" horse.
Moreover, it is obvious that dogs have a sense of humor; and they have also a sense of shame, perfectly distinct from the fear of punishment. Of their sense of shame let me give one example. The dog's eyesight, so far at least as stationary objects are concerned, is very poor, his real reliance being upon his sense of smell, and I have often seen a dog mistake one of his own family for a strange animal, run toward him, with every sign of hostility, and then, when he came within a few feet of the other dog, suddenly drop his tail between his legs, and slink away, as if he feared that somebody had noticed his absurd mistake.