" Hurrah for dogs! " cried Harry, clapping his hands. "I say they are as good as men any day. They say, Mother, that the Indians believe their dogs will go to heaven with them. Will they, Mother ?"
" We know nothing of the future state of animals, Harry. We only know that they are more gentle and intelligent the more kind we are to them. The most savage animals are tamed by constant kindness. Who does not remember Sir Walter Scott's pet pig? The reason why the pig was so fond of his master was that Sir Walter had not treated him piggishly, but humanely.
You have been told of Baron Trenck's spider. Men have had pet lions and tigers. When I see a fine, gentle horse, or an intelligent, loving dog, I find myself repeating Miss Barrett's beautiful words, —
" Be my benediction said With my hand upon thy head, Gentle fellow-creature".
Now I have a funny story for you of a dog and a hen which a friend told me that she knew to be true.
A small dog had a litter of puppies in a barn close by a hen who was sitting on her eggs, waiting patiently, as hens do, for the time when her chickens should pop their pretty heads out of their shells into this pleasant world.
The puppies, however, came first, and, as soon as they were born, she left her nest, and insisted upon brooding them.
The little dog, no doubt, thought her very impertinent, and barked at her, and tried to drive her away; but she would not go. They had always been good friends, and the dog was Unwilling to hurt her; and so Mrs. Dog, after showing, in every way, her desire to get rid of her troublesome acquaintance, and finding that Madame Hen would not budge one inch, let her alone.
From that time, the hen brooded the puppies. She let their mother suckle them, but the rest of the time took charge of them. The poor dog mother felt cheated, but she went off and amused herself as well as she could.
The poor chickens never showed their heads outside of their little oval prison, for they missed the gentle warmth of their unnatural mother's wings".
" She was a real funny hen," said Frank; " but she could not have had much brains, not even so much as common hens, and that's little enough; but, as for the dog, she must be as lazy as Dick Doolittle, to be willing to have such a stupid nursery woman as a hen take care of her own puppies. Dick lets Tom Jones do all his sums for him, but then he never hides it, so we only laugh at him. He says, What's the use of being named Doolittle and yet have to do much ?
But, Mother, it is not bed time yet. Have you not some more stories of animals ?"
"Yes, Frank; but Harry wants his story now. It is his turn to choose.'
"I can wait till to-morrow evening," said Harry; " and I like the dog and hen stories very much".
"Harry shall have his turn, then, to-morrow," said Mrs. Chilton; " and I will tell you some more stories of dogs, for I now remember some more that are perfectly true.
You never know how intelligent an animal is till you treat it with kindness. All animals are easily frightened by human beings, and fear makes them stupid. Children naturally love animals, but sometimes a foolish boy loves to show his power over them, and so learns to be cruel.
A little boy of my acquaintance, when he was told that he might ask some friends to pass his birthday with him, and was asked who should be invited, named over all the dogs in the neighborhood, and was much grieved when his choice was greeted with laughter.
I have seen a little fellow of three years of age with his hand in the mouth of a large, hungry dog, trying to get a piece of bread out of it, and the dog not resenting the liberty at all, but merely trying to retain his share of the bread, and allowing the child to take a part.
We all know that dogs have chosen to die upon the graves of their masters, refusing food even when it was brought to them. We look at such animals as if we saw in them an angel in prison. We feel as if such a nature could not die.
There is no doubt that dogs understand language. My friend, Mr. S. P. Miles, who was remarkable for his tender love for animals, as well as for many other noble and lovely qualities, told me some remarkable facts which came under his own personal observation, and which I am, therefore, sure are true, showing that intelligent dogs understand language.
He said that in his father's house was an old dog, to whom they were much attached, who however became liable to fits. The dog was very fond of hunting, and the moment he saw any one take the gun, to go into the woods, he would show his ecstasy by leaping about.
Mr. Miles's mother one day, when caressing the dog and lamenting that he was subject to these fits, told her son that he had better shoot him the next time that he went out hunting with him. A few days after, Mr. Miles went hunting; but the moment he reached up for his gun, which was laid up on hooks in the wall, the dog, instead of showing joy by jumping about, ran directly to the good lady who had condemned him to death, got under the table at which she was sitting, looked up in her face, and would not move from that place. Never after could the poor fellow be induced to go out with any one who had a gun in his hand.
The same friend told me of a still more remarkable instance of intelligence in a dog, though I confess it does not prove that this dog had much conscience.
Mr. Miles said that he knew the man who owned the dog, and knew the truth of the whole story. He said that a neighbor had an uncommonly fine dog, well trained, and, as it seemed, perfect in all things.
One day, a man came and complained that the dog killed his sheep. The owner said he was sure that it was impossible. Hero was so well trained, he was always in his kennel at the right hour, and he knew that he must not kill sheep. After a while, the neighbor came again with the accusation. The dog was then tied in the barn. The man came again with the same charge against the dog.