Last weekend, my dog had a bad time. I had a bad time too, an emergency hospital admission, ambulance, siren, flashing lights and everything, after a pair of wonderful paramedics rescued me from an asthmatic collapse. But this story is not about me.
My dog was first on the scene. He responded to my call for help and, realising at once that the crisis was unprecedented in his experience, he became very concerned. It seemed there was nothing that a dog could do to help.
Yet he knows that his people are always there to help him when he needs it. When, through no fault of his own, he found himself in SSPCA kennels, we came and adopted him. That was very important because he hated the kennels, wouldn't eat properly and lost a great deal of weight. A good home, affection and regular exercise soon made a new dog of him.
On the occasions that he has been clumsy and fallen in whilst exploring the riverbank near his new home, his person has been there to help him out. When there are worrying things about, his people are about too.
In return, he is totally committed to protecting his people and his home against all intruders and perceived threats of any kind whatsoever. He has taken over from the alarm clock the responsibility for getting sluggards out of bed in the morning and he also takes seriously the duty of regulating the behaviour of all other animals (except the cat.)
But how can a dog be expected to cope with a medical emergency that requires more than just a good licking with a big sloppy tongue? And how should a dog react when strange people come and start doing things that he doesn't understand with strange apparatus?
Well, first, it is obvious to him that these people are not enemies but are there to help. They are too busy helping to be able to defend themselves (and his person) therefore a dog must keep watch outside the door of the room where his person has collapsed and ensure that no troublemakers interfere with the rescue attempt.
But then what? His person is taken away in circumstances that he knows are very troubling and he is left behind. His other person also goes away and comes back alone. The next day she goes away and comes back alone again. It has been almost twenty four hours, an eternity in dog time. He has no idea what has become of his person, no-one can explain to him and he is very upset indeed. He doesn't eat properly and he mopes. What else can he do?
At last his other person goes away for the third time. She comes back for the third time. He doesn't feel like getting up. He's seen this twice before. But what's this? His ears prick up. There's someone else in the car. Could it be? Is it? It is! Hoo-rah!
You know what some people say about animals showing humans only cupboard love? It's nonsense.