Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 23.djvu/73

This page has been proofread, but needs to be validated.
63
A SUPERSTITIOUS DOG.

tions which may have been frequently repeated, and involve nothing incompatible with what is going on on the surface of the globe in our own day. In speaking thus, we do not regard Europe, but the interior of tropical countries, and the parts of those lands where water, heat, and an exuberant vegetation are combined upon a ground the configuration of which is agreeable to the material conditions that have been postulated in this sketch.

 

A SUPERSTITIOUS DOG.
By EUGENE N. S. RINGUEBERG.

THAT many of the higher animals are possessed of reason does not, in the light of modern science and recorded facts, need any argument; only the question of degree remains to be determined in the future.

It is among domesticated species that we have the best opportunities for studying the mental phenomena of the lower animals, but here they are often greatly modified by contact with man; and, as these abnormal modifications are the ones that we can most readily interpret, they must necessarily form the major portion of our data.

Observation of their habits can not fail to convince us that many individuals, if not all of the brute creation, are possessed of a considerable degree of imaginative faculty. Every one has watched a dog in dream-land: his feet will go through the motion of running; occasionally a few smothered barks will be heard, showing his eagerness in the imagined chase in which he is engaged; or his tail will wag rapidly, probably indicating a meeting with a pleasant acquaintance. He may even start up, and then, awakened by his energetic action, his countenance will show plainly, as he turns to lie down again, how sheepish he feels about the exhibition that he has involuntarily made of himself.

In the fall of 1879 an eccentric pointer came into my possession, or rather he adopted me for his master. He was a genuine canine tramp, with all the peculiarities of the human variety; stealing his food or lodging whenever he had a chance, or deferentially begging it when that method would answer his purpose better. He had been in the habit, as we afterward found out, of roaming about from place to place in the town, selecting first one home and then another. He was something over two years old when he came to me; his color was coal-black, and he soon learned to answer to the cognomen of Pluto.

After he had been with me a few months, certain peculiar mental traits began to manifest themselves. He became subject to attacks of apparent mental derangement, lasting from a few minutes to several hours, which increased in frequency and violence up to the time when