Open main menu

Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 56.djvu/114

This page has been proofread, but needs to be validated.

them the fullest use of all our energies and all the intelligence, be it more or less, that was possessed by man or beast—I had the privilege of seeing in my dogs actions that were, at least to me, convincing that they possessed the rudiments of reasoning powers, and, in the more intelligent, that which will be utterly inexplicable if it is not the product of reasoning faculties.

For a number of years I was a resident missionary in the Hudson Bay Territories, where, in the prosecution of my work, I kept a large number of dogs of various breeds. With these dogs I traveled several thousands of miles every winter over an area larger than the State of New York. In summer I used them to plow my garden and fields. They dragged home our fish from the distant fisheries, and the wood from the forests for our numerous fires. They cuddled around me on the edges of my heavy fur robes in wintry camps, where we often slept out in a hole dug in the snow, the temperature ranging from 30° to 60° below zero. When blizzard storms raged so terribly that even the most experienced Indian guides were bewildered, and knew not north from south or east from west, our sole reliance was on our dogs, and with an intelligence and an endurance that ever won our admiration they succeeded in bringing us to our desired destination.

It is conceded at the outset that these dogs of whom I write were the result of careful selection. There are dogs and dogs, as there are men and men. They were not picked up in the street at random. I would no more keep in my personal service a mere average mongrel dog than I would the second time hire for one of my long trips a sulky Indian. As there are some people, good in many ways, who can not master a foreign tongue, so there are many dogs that never rise above the one gift of animal instinct. With such I too have struggled, and long and patiently labored, and if of them only I were writing I would unhesitatingly say that of them I never saw any act which ever seemed to show reasoning powers. But there are other dogs than these, and of them I here would write and give my reason why I firmly believe that in a marked degree some of them possessed the powers of reasoning.

Two of my favorite dogs I called Jack and Cuffy. Jack was a great black St. Bernard, weighing nearly two hundred pounds. Cuffy was a pure Newfoundland, with very black curly hair. These two dogs were the gift of the late Senator Sanford. With other fine dogs of the same breeds, they soon supplanted the Eskimo and mongrels that had been previously used for years about the place.

I had so much work to do in my very extensive field that I required to have at least four trains always fit for service. This