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- True Stories About Dogs and Cats - 6/7 -
man's shoulders and looked him in the face, with such a human meaning, such a piteous expression, that the man determined to follow him.
The dog led him, not to the cliff under which the vessel was lying, as there she could not be seen, but to a distant place on a point where she was visible.
Ropes were immediately obtained, the crew were all hoisted up. and every life saved; and this was by the intelligent love of this faithful fellow-creature--we cannot call him a brute.
These true stories were told me by Mr. W. R. of New Bedford, who gave the name of the captain of the wrecked vessel, and said he was sure they were true.
A fact of this kind fell once under my own observation. One night, our dog Caesar made a barking at the door, till, at last, he brought some one out. The dog then ran towards the road, and when he found he was not followed, came back and barked, and then ran to the road and back again, and so on till we understood he wanted to be followed, and some one went with him.
Caesar immediately led the way to a ditch over which there was a bridge without any guard. There a horse and wagon had been upset. The wagon had fallen upon the driver in such a way that he could not move. The men came immediately to the aid of the poor man, took him out, put him in his wagon and new harnessed his horse, and set him off comfortably on his way again. The dog sat by and saw it all. Who shall say how much of the compassionate love of the good Samaritan was in his canine heart? Who shall exactly measure and justly estimate the joy of the other faithful, intelligent animal who saved the crew of the wrecked vessel?
One more story of a dog I remember which is too good to be forgotten; as it shows, not only the sagacity, but the love and self-denial of one of these faithful creatures.
A shepherd, whose flocks were in the high pastures on the Grampian Hills, took with him one day his little boy who was about three years of age. They had gone some distance, when he found it necessary, for some reason or other, to ascend the summit of one of the hills. He thought it would be too fatiguing for the child to go up; so he left him below with the dog, telling the little fellow to stay there till he returned, and charging the good and faithful dog to watch over the boy.
Scarcely had the shepherd reached the summit, before there came up one of those very thick fogs which are common among these mountains. These heavy mists often come up so suddenly and so thick that it is like a dark night--you can see absolutely nothing.
The unhappy father hurried down the mountain to his little boy; but, from fright and from the utter darkness, lost the way.
The poor shepherd for many hours sought his child among the treacherous swamps, the roaring cataracts and the steep precipices.
No little boy, no faithful dog could he see or hear. At length, night came on, and the wretched father had to return to his cottage, and to the mother of his child, and say the sad words, "He is lost. My faithful dog is gone too, or he might help me find the boy."
That was a sad night for the poor cottagers. At break of day, the shepherd, with his wife and his neighbors, set out to look for the child. They searched all day long, in every place where it seemed possible that lie could be, but all in vain. No little boy could they find. The night came on, and again the poor shepherd and his wife came home without their child.
On their return home, they found that the dog had been there; and, on receiving a piece of oatmeal cake, had instantly gone off with it. The next day and the day after, the shepherd renewed the search for his child. On each day when they returned, they heard that the dog had been to the house, taken his piece of cake, and immediately disappeared. The shepherd determined to stay at home the next day and watch his dog. He had a hope in his heart that the dog would lead him to his child.
The dog came the next day, at the same hour, took his piece of cake, and ran off. The shepherd followed him. He led the way to a cataract at some distance from the place where the father had left the child.
The bank of the cataract was steep and high, and the abyss down which the water rushed was terrific. Down the rugged and almost perpendicular descent, the dog, without any hesitation, began to make his way. At last, he disappeared into a cave, the mouth of which was almost on a level with the cataract.
The shepherd, with great difficulty, followed. What were his emotions, who can tell his joy, when he beheld his little boy eating, with much satisfaction, the piece of cake which the faithful animal had just brought? The dog stood by, eying his young charge with the utmost complacence.
The child had doubtless wandered from the place where he was left by his father; had fallen over the precipice; had been caught by the bushes near the cave, and scrambled into it. The dog had either followed or found him by the scent, and had since prevented him from starving by giving to him every day his own food.
The faithful, loving creature had never left the child day or night, except to get the piece of oaten cake; and then the dog went at full speed, neither stopping by the way, or apparently reserving any of the cake for himself.
Shall we not, all of us, learn love, fidelity and self-forgetfulness from such an affectionate and faithful creature?
"I don't believe I could be as good as that dog," said Frank.
"I know I could not," said Harry. "How the shepherd and his wife must have loved him! If I had been in their place, I should have treated him like the little boy's brother, and kept him always in the parlor."
"I dare say they did," said Mrs. Chilton.
There is an anecdote I have lately read, which shows that dogs have compassion for other dogs, and will help a fellow in distress.
When the ice suddenly melted on a river in Germany, a little dog was seen on a small piece of ice in the middle of the river. It was not known how he got into that situation. He set up the most piteous cries. A large dog who saw him dashed into the river, soon reached the poor spaniel, seized him by the neck, and brought him safe to shore, amidst the shouts and praises of the spectators.
Animals, when treated kindly, attach themselves to human beings. Birds build their nests near the habitations of men. In the wild, distant woods all is still. One hears no song of birds. In England, where the robin is courted and made much of, he comes into the house and takes his food from the table.
In many parts of Europe storks build their nests on the roofs. Swallows, martins, sparrows and wrens often make their nests under our roofs. They confide in us, and trust in our friendship and care. Let us never, my boys, betray or abuse their confidence.
There is a kind of birds who travel all over the United States. They go from South to North, from North to South. They have not, like the martins, the bob-o'-links, and some others, regular times for going and coming; but travel more to obtain food than to escape the winter, and, when once settled in a place with enough suitable food and water, remain there till it is exhausted, and then take flight to some other place.
"Are you telling us a made-up story, Mother?" said Harry.
"No, Harry, it is really and truly the wild pigeon of America of which I am speaking. Indeed, if it were not for their great power of flight, they must, many of them, starve to death. A proof of their swiftness is the fact that a pigeon has been killed in the neighborhood of New York, with rice in his crop that he must have swallowed in the fields of Georgia or Carolina."
"How could any one know that?" asked Harry.
"By remembering the fact that in one of those states is the nearest spot at which the bird could have found rice growing. It is a well ascertained fact that their power of digestion is so great, that their food is in the course of twelve hours so entirely changed, that one cannot know what it was. Now the distance of the rice fields from New York--that is, the number of miles travelled in twelve hours--is such that the pigeon must have flown at the rate of about a mile in a minute; so that if he pleased he might go to England in two days; but, Frank, if you will give me that pamphlet that lies on the table, I will read the account of the wild pigeon of America from the book itself."
"It was written by the celebrated Audubon, who resided a great many years in America, and who most faithfully watched the birds he described."
After giving an account of the speed of the pigeon, he goes on to say, "This great power of flight is seconded by as great a power of vision, which enables them, as they travel at that great rate, to view objects below, and so discover their food with facility. This I have proved to be the case by observing the pigeons, as they were passing over a barren part of the country, keep high in the air, and present such an extensive front as to enable them to observe hundreds of acres at once."
"If, on the contrary, the land is richly covered with food, or the trees with mast, (the fruit of the oak and beech trees,) the birds fly low, in order to discover the portion of woods most plentifully supplied, and there they alight. The form of body of these swift travellers is an elongated (lengthened) oval steered by a long, well-plumed tail,"--just as you know, Harry, you steer your boat by the rudder in the great tub of water; "they are furnished with extremely well set muscular wings. If a single bird is seen gliding through the woods and close by, it passes apparently like a thought, and the eye, on trying to see it again, searches in vain--the bird is gone."
The multitudes of pigeons in our woods are astonishing; and, indeed, after having for years viewed them so often, under so many circumstances, and I may add in many different climates, I even now feel inclined to pause and assure myself that what I am going to relate is fact.
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