Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 42.djvu/193

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CANINE MORALS AND MANNERS.

Jesse states that when a pariah dog of one of the Eastern cities desires to pass through a district inhabited by another pack, he skulks along in the humblest fashion, with his tail depressed to the utmost, and, on being challenged, rolls over, and there remains, limp and supine, submissively awaiting leave to proceed. The same thing can be observed when a large and fierce dog makes a dash at a young and timid one. This expressive and unmistakable method of showing submission is calculated to disarm hostile feelings, and contributes to peace and harmony, and therefore to the unity and prosperity of the body politic.

Although it would seem that the canine imagination from its very feebleness transforms man into a dog, yet, as we should expect, arguing from the cynomorphic hypothesis, it does not stop here. In Darwin's most interesting account of the shepherd dogs of the Argentine, given in Chapter VIII of his Voyage of the Beagle, he shows that, by a careful system of training, the herdsmen have taught the dogs to regard their charges as fellows of the same pack with themselves; insomuch that a single dog, although he will flee from an enemy if alone, will, as soon as he reaches the flock to which he is attached, turn and face any odds, evidently with the notion that the helpless and frightened sheep ranged behind him are able to back him up just as if they were members of a canine community of which he was leader. The passage is too long for quotation, but all who are interested in the subject should refer to it.

An instance of the operation of the cynomorphic idea can be seen in the behavior of a dog when a bone is given to him. He will generally run off with it to some quiet spot, and is of every one who comes near him, evidently having the notion that what is to him a valuable possession is likely to be regarded as such by his human associates. Few dogs when gnawing a bone will allow even their masters to approach without showing signs of displeasure, and a fear of being dispossessed of their property, only consistent with the idea that the bipedal "dog" wants to gnaw the bone himself.

Every one has noticed the elaborate preliminaries which go before a canine battle. Teeth are ostentatiously displayed, the animals walk on tiptoe round one another, and erect the hair on their backs as if each wished to give the impression that he was a very large and formidable dog, and one not to be encountered with impunity. Frequently hostilities go no further than this, and one turns and retires with a great show of dignity, but plainly with no wish to fight.

When we come to analyze these proceedings, it will be seen that the ends of battle are often gained in a bloodless manner by this diplomatic exhibition of warlike preparations and capabilities.