Dogs who have Committed Suicide By Sarah Knowles Bolton 1902
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THE New York World tells of several instances where dogs have committed suicide, through grief, or persecution: "A new grave was decorated yesterday in New Durham, N. J., and it is safe to say that for many years Memorial Day will be symbolized in the family of Frank Hall, the coal man, by the strewing of flowers on the mound beneath which sleeps the headless body of Nero, the dog suicide.
"All New Durham knows that Nero did commit suicide, for New Durham knows what a serious, sensitive dog Nero was, and how he could not brook the humiliation of a beating. And not an engineer or trainman on the West Shore railroad to whom the sight of the magnificent Newfoundland racing beside a train or giving it a lordly greeting as it passed could be brought into the ranks of the disbelievers.
"'Why, that animal knew as much about a train as the best man alive,' said the trainmen. 'He was perfectly familiar with them with the familiarity born of years' acquaintance.'
"'Suicide?' said the engineer of the 4:15. 'Why, it was as plain a case of suicide as you ever heard of. I felt just as bad as if I had struck a man. It took all the nerve out of me.
"'There he lay across the track, his neck resting on a rail. He had never done such a thing before. He had raced so often beside the tracks that he knew the fearful suction and power of a train. But that was not all. When I blew the whistle and rang the bell in a desperate attempt to scare him off the track that dog just turned and looked at me. I saw him lick his lips, just as a man in such circumstances might have done, and in his eyes there was a look of sadness, coupled with determination, which was unmistakable. His tail never quivered as the engine approached. He was steeled for the death stroke. As I saw him going under the pilot I shut my eyes and groaned. I could not help it. It seemed as if I could feel the pilot wheels cutting off that shaggy head.'
"All other evidence pointed the same way. The dog's conduct after Mr. Hall whipped him for tearing the dress of little May Hall in play; the way he shunned the society of his little mistress and her companions; his silence and abstraction and loss of appetite, were all direct and irrefragible evidence of the deadly purpose that was forming in the canine mind. The cause was there, the effect, the conduct. Nero committed suicide."
"Tip, a Scotch collie, the pride of Harrison, N. Y.," says the World, for January, 1899, "committed suicide. He had been the night watchman and fire alarm for the village for seven years, and was the only protection against burglars. He had no regular home, but all the summer residents petted him. He would meet their carriages morning and evening and accompany them to and from the station. When the people returned to the city for the winter he became despondent, and was not seen for several days. Then he appeared at the railroad station, and when the Boston express was heard approaching, lay down on the track. The engineer whistled, but the collie would not hear. His body was thrown high in the air."
At the Dog Show in Mechanics' Hall, Boston, some years ago, there was one of the most beautiful collies I have ever seen. I shall never forget his brown eyes, sensitive face, and alert, responsive manner. He was valued at either ten or fifteen thousand dollars. I learned afterwards that not liking the keeper of his kennel, who had chided him, when he was let out to drink, he went into the pond or lake nearby, would not return, and deliberately drowned himself, by holding his head under water.
Rex, a Gordon setter, says the World of May 30, 1899, drowned himself at Fort Hamilton. He was three years old, and valued at $300. He had taken twelve prizes at shows. He was carried by his owner to his summer home at Fort Hamilton, and while there was kicked and his ears pulled by some boys who deserved imprisonment for such conduct. The dog, not used to such "brutal treatment, bit one of them. The boy screamed and a private watchman kicked Rex on the head. He, too, was bitten in return for the kick. Then firing his revolver, and joining the cruel boys and others in pursuit, all rushed after the poor creature. Trembling at the repeated insults, and half crazed with fright, Rex threw himself into the water, did not try to swim, and soon sank from sight.
Many a dog is driven to suicide by an ignorant, noisy crowd that should be dispersed by the police. A beautiful collie got mixed up with the crowd at the foot of Broadway, Williamsburg, in June, 1898, says the World. He was frightened at the noise, and ran from place to place, searching for his master. Then some cruel person cried "Mad dog," and men and women fled in every direction. "Some of the men kicked him. This excited the dog more and more. He started down Kent avenue at a mad gallop to get away from his torturers. Half a thousand of them followed screaming, 'Mad dog!' and throwing things at him.
"Up Division avenue the poor collie turned, the crowd close behind. The open door of the power station of the trolley line seemed to afford shelter. The collie scampered up the stone steps and then turned to see if the crowd were still after him. It was close at hand, twice as numerous as when it started.
"The dog walked into the power-house, stopping every second or two to listen to the music of the dynamos. Then he stopped in front of the big flywheel and watched it make its lightning revolutions.
"The advance guard of the crowd burst through the door yelling 'Mad dog!' The collie made a flying leap into the whirling flywheel and in an instant was ground to death.
"One of the workmen who had come up to pat the dog turned upon the crowd and said:
"'You fools, you drove a good dog to suicide.'"
Rev. Chas. Josiah Adams, the well known writer and lover of dogs, tells this sad story:
"An engineer owned a dog to which he was very much attached. The dog had but one grave fault—a certain Bohemian impulse, which took him away from home at times—in which self-given vacations he would generally spend three or four days. After such an absence his master first scolded him and then would have nothing to do with him, repulsing coldly all his advances. The dog seemed overwhelmed with despair, heart-broken. Though he was about it a great deal he was mortally afraid of machinery in motion. He made one last effort to propitiate his master. It failed. Then he rushed among some rapidly revolving wheels, and attained what he wanted—death."
The Youth's Companion gives a similar case:
"Sir George Ouseley gives a remarkable instance of a similar sensitiveness displayed by a monkey. The animal was a pet of the captain and a favorite with the whole crew of the man-of-war which took Sir George out as ambassador to Persia, but like all his species, was full of mischief.
"One morning the monkey lashed the ship's goat to the tackle of a gun, and milked her into a stiff-glazed marine hat. The captain, who caught him in the very act, gave orders that for a week no one should pet the monkey or in any way take the slightest notice of him.
"The monkey went about wistfully seeking the attentions to which he had been accustomed, but none of his old friends had a word or look for him. His most coaxing and engaging airs failed to attract the least attention.
"For two days he bore his punishment, but on the morning of the third, finding himself in disgrace, he sprang upon the bulwarks, and placing both hands over his head, gave one pitiful cry, and then leaped into the sea, and was seen no more.
"Such exquisite sensitiveness on the part of dumb animals certainly constitutes a powerful claim on human sympathy, and entitles them to kind and considerate treatment at the hands of those to whom they offer their loyal affection."
"Down Pell street," says a New York paper, "toward the Bowery came ten or twenty ragamuffins arrayed in all the fantastic garments that they usually put on to celebrate Thanksgiving Day, when with masks over their faces and tin horns in their mouths they blow lustily into the ears of the weary Italian fruit vendors and demand some apples or a handful of chestnuts.
"But the crowd that rushed down Pell street about four P.M. yesterday was particularly agitated. It was pursuing no Italian who had failed to accede to its demands. Just before the urchins ran a dog, a stag hound, with long shaggy gray hair and a noble head. His body was emaciated and he limped painfully. Stones and broken tin horns were thrown at the dog; occasionally they hit him. Then the brute would turn, roll back his heavy lips, and show his teeth, growl in deep tones and snap at the nearest of his pursuers.
"The boys would pause and some in the front rank would fall over those behind in order to get out of the way. When the dog resumed his way with head and tail down the boys shouted and missiles flew thicker than ever. When one struck the mark the same scene was repeated.
"Just as the dog reached the middle of the Bowery a large stone struck him in the side. He howled dismally and blood gathered at his nostrils. But he turned and growled as before, and the crowd made hasty retreat to the sidewalk.
"The dog was standing between the rails of the cable track. A car was approaching rapidly. He ceased to growl and turned his great brown eyes from the crowd and regarded the car as it came on. There was almost human anguish in that look. He bowed his head and the car passed over him and crushed him." Where were the police, that they did not stop such a brutal crowd, and save a helpless dog?
Lucy, a high bred water spaniel sold by her owner, Mr. Morgan Miller of Butler, Ohio, to a man in Columbus, Ohio, traveled back to her home, 130 miles distant, and broken hearted because she had been sold, refused to eat, and hung herself on a sharp picket fence, in February, 1901.
A family in Bartonsville, Vt., moved to Tacoma, Washington, and left their collie with friends. The dog become dejected, stretched himself across the track as he heard a train of cars approaching, and was killed, evidently by his own desire.
"A sad suicide has recently occurred at Biarritz," says the Boston Herald. "The story would scarcely be believed had it not been witnessed by a number of people who were walking on the quay. It seems the puppies of a little terrier had been taken from her, and three times did the poor, despairing mother try to throw herself into the sea. Each time she was recovered, but it was evident that she intended to die, for, at length escaping from her rescuers, she threw herself for the fourth time into the water and held her head under until she drowned. The spectators were deeply moved by the sight, and someone cried out that the poor creature be given back one of the pups, but it was then too late. The mother was no more."
"Such things do happen," says Geo. T. Angell, in Our Dumb Animals for August, 1898. "We have not only read of many well proved cases but once witnessed one where a dog deliberately committed suicide."
In July, 1897, Matt Madison of Burlington, Iowa, was drowned. His dog Tip was with him, and refused to leave the spot. When the body was recovered the dog guarded it, and moaned and howled in the greatest distress. After the burial, the dog went to places frequented by his master, searching in vain for him. Finally, he ran up to a clubroom where Madison often went, hurried to the flat room above, where the skylight was open for air, ran backwards and forwards along the roof, and then leaped to the brick paved street below. His back was broken, and people who had sadly watched his leap, put him out of misery. He and his master had been inseparable, and the parting had crazed him or broken his heart.
The well-known author, Izora Chandler, tells a pitiful story "The Goodby of Wiggins." The little brown and white water spaniel had been a pet until a rich cousin came to the home to spend a week, and brought his big St. Bernard. Unmeaningly, the little dog was neglected, though he tried in every way to keep the attention and affection of the family. Finally he went away, and the big dog tried to follow, but was forbidden. He did not return, and at last the family searched for him. And this is what they heard:
"A cyclist who was resting by the road at the edge of the wood saw a pretty brown spaniel come slowly down the road. It walked with difficulty, though it did not seem to be really lame. The silky ears trailed along in the dust. It went directly to the swift stream and swam until the current caught it, when it seemed to arouse and began a struggle with the waves. After a brisk fight the spaniel won, swam swiftly to shore, and started back up the road.
"After going only a little way it stopped and stood still for a minute or two, as if in deep thought. Then it raised its head, gave one long, piercing howl, turned, ran swiftly back, swam to the middle of the stream, and before the cyclist could interfere, had yielded itself up to be carried by the swift water and hurled over the falls into the whirlpool below.
"It was so strange a thing that the cyclist told it to the keeper of the little country tavern where he stopped to lunch. In this way it came to be known to Wiggins' family.
"They sat down and, with guilty faces, they talked about those last days. They remembered his going about to them all that morning. And they realized that he was saying a heartbroken goodby.
"They remembered also what the St. Bernard did. And they knew that the big dog understood something of the pity of it; and that he, probably, would have explained in his dog language and have persuaded little Wiggins not to go.
"And they were all very sorry for their thoughtless unkindness. But being sorry did not bring back Wiggins."
Dedicated to my best friend: Teddy Schmitz. I miss you buddy.