* said one of the panel members on National Radio's Jim Mora's Panel show this afternoon. They were talking about Lassie the movies and TV series and Mora mentioned how many 'Lassie' dogs died over the years. This was after the story of the day about empathetic dogs.
A clever quip.
So the conclusion in this is that there is no particular dog breed that is more empathetic than others (and collies are actually pretty stupid - sort of the canine version of Princess Diana - pretty but dumb). It is all down to the relationship between the dog and the owner.
This reminded me of years ago when we were living in Christchurch. We had a fairly large house and gardens - large enough that when I was out in the garden or at the back of the property I was out of shouting distance to the house.
One afternoon when I was pottering about on the front lawn I was throwing a ball for our dog Rosie.
I would throw it over trees, into gardens, over the house - all sorts of 'tricky' things but she would always recover it.
At one point I pretended to throw it a long way and she took off not knowing I still had the ball in my hand. I did this a couple of times until she got wise to me. The last time as she started to come back I started to throw it again but instead of going in the supposed direction of the ball she ran straight at me and barrelled into my right knee. She sent me flying (she a 40 to 50 kg dog and me a svelte Donatello David figure - see HERE.
Result? Me lying flat out in agony and unable to get to my feet. Rosie - looking concerned and trying to lick my face (something we never encouraged).
I tried calling out to Lynn as it was a Sunday afternoon and she was inside the house. She didn't hear me.
After a while - calling for assistance and trying to get to the house (my knee was definitely out and I couldn't put weight on it) I told Rosie to get help:
Me: Rosie, go and get help I've fallen in the well
Rosie: Bark bark bark bark (translated as: Yeah OK but you were the one being a bastard and pretending to throw the ball).
Obviously that didn't happen but I did say to Rosie who was fretting and worrying, to go and get Lynn:
Me: Get Lynn. Rosie
Rose: (quizzical look)
Me Lynn, where's Lynn?
Rosie: Woof (plus ears going up).
Me: Where's Lynn. Where's Lynn?
At this stage I was feeling a bit silly but Rosie took off to the house and .... didn't come back.
WTF? Had she just gone back to tell Lynn that it was her teatime?
Eventually .... seemed like ages Lynn came around the side of the house to find me in the middle of the lawn with Rosie at her heels. She said that she wondered what the dog was wanting (not immediately interpreting "bark bark bark" as "Timmy's in the well" but thought she'd see what I was up to.
A good result (for me) but not really scientifically significant.