January 03, 2007
Don't expect your dog to help you
Timmy fell down the old well? Don't expect Lassie to go for help, says Bill Roberts, a psychology professor at the University of Western Ontario.
Do not expect your loyal canine to stage a Lassie-style rescue if you are ever injured or in trouble. Researchers at the University of Western Ontario devised an experiment to test whether dogs can understand emergencies and react appropriately, and not one of the dogs sought help. A toy poodle was the only pet to even touch a bystander, and that pup simply curled up in the person's lap, apparently seeking comfort for himself rather than help for his owner. "It appears that they don't understand when an emergency has occurred or what to do about it," said psychology professor Bill Roberts, co-author of the study that appeared recently in the Journal of Comparative Psychology. (Credit National Post.)
Sometimes M. lets out a shriek if she drops something or has a small accident, and the dogs come running.
It's not that they want to help her, I say. It's more that they think she is wounded and so they might be able to eat her.
And then one of us quotes Bridget Jones: "I'd finally die, fat and alone, and be found three weeks later half-eaten by Alsatians."