When reading an article in the Journal of Medical Ethics, Advances in neuroscience imply that harmful experiments in dogs are unethical, by Jarrod Bailey and Shiranee Pereira, I was reminded of our George. The Open Access article explains that
“Functional MRI (fMRI) of fully awake and unrestrained dog ‘volunteers’ has been proven an effective tool to understand the neural circuitry and functioning of the canine brain. Although every dog owner would vouch that dogs are perceptive, cognitive, intuitive and capable of positive emotions/empathy, as indeed substantiated by ethological studies for some time, neurological investigations now corroborate this. These studies show that there exists a striking similarity between dogs and humans in the functioning of the caudate nucleus (associated with pleasure and emotion), and dogs experience positive emotions, empathic-like responses and demonstrate human bonding which, some scientists claim, may be at least comparable with human children. There exists an area analogous to the ‘voice area’ in the canine brain, enabling dogs to comprehend and respond to emotional cues/valence in human voices, and evidence of a region in the temporal cortex of dogs involved in the processing of faces, as also observed in humans and monkeys. We therefore contend that using dogs in invasive and/or harmful research, and toxicity testing, cannot be ethically justifiable.”
As soon as we got to know George we knew he was an especially thoughtful person. It was proved beyond doubt when I had a diabetic hypo (hypoglycemia: low blood sugar, causing brain to go to sleep) one afternoon a couple of years ago. I had been unconscious on the settee for a couple of hours and no one else was home except the two dogs. When I came round my brain woke up before my body did so when I tried to get up off the settee I just collapsed onto the floor. I was aware that both dogs, George and Jo Jo, were watching me closely. I was flat on my face and couldn’t even sit up so I needed my husband’s help. I knew he was somewhere in the garden (he’s the resident gardener of a six acre garden) so I tried to shout his name in the hope that he was nearby but I was unable to form words. I made a strange drunken sound which was beyond slurred but it wasn’t very loud and certainly not comprehensible. My arms were starting to work now so I managed to drag myself on my belly to the door and was just able to reach the waist-level handle to open it. Both boys followed me and when I’d got the door open wide enough I slurred “Git Sm’n” as best I could (I still couldn’t say Simon) before flopping back face-first on the doormat. Sweet Jo Jo stayed with me while George ran outside. Bear in mind he now had the freedom to roam six acres, but he didn’t. He stood at the end of the path to the gardener’s cottage and barked. He barked and barked until Simon came and then he ran back to the cottage ahead of him. Simon lifted me onto the bed, got me some orange juice and I made a fast recovery.
But if you think that was clever, wait ’til you hear what happened last week! I got my coat and wellies on, ready to take the boys for a walk. Jo Jo came running to have his coat and lead put on but George was at the other end of the living room guarding his food dish. He still had a bit of breakfast left and was worried someone might pinch it if it was left unattended. Well, I didn’t want to have to take off my muddy boots to traipse across the living room to fetch him so I kept calling him until he eventually reluctantly came. I attached his lead and the three of us left. When we were about thirty feet from the house I noticed George was limping quite heavily on his front left paw. I said, “Oh, darling, are you limping? What’s wrong?” and he stood still and gave me his paw when I reached for it. I couldn’t find anything wrong with it – he didn’t complain when I touched it and there was no thorn or stone or anything caught in it – so I attempted to resume our walk. George made an immediate U-turn and pulled back towards the house so I gave in and let him lead me back. When we got to the front door I opened it, took off his lead and he ran to his food dish – no sign of a limp whatsoever! He has not limped at all since. He is a liar! He pretended he’d hurt his foot so that he didn’t have to go!
He is a clever clever naughty boy 😀