This section is from the book "All About Dogs - A Book For Doggy People", by Charles Henry Lane. Also available from Amazon: All About Dogs: A Book For Doggy People.
The keeper who looked after them expressed himself heartily glad when they were gone, for he said he was often afraid to go into the kennel, wondering what they would be up to next, and felt sure they were demons, and not dogs at all.
A singular story is told of King Richard II. of England, and a dog of this breed. It is given in the quaint language of Froissart. "A Greyhound called Mithe, who always wayted upon ye Kynge, and wolde know no man els. For when so ever ye Kynge did ryde, he that kept ye Greyhounde dyd lette hym lose, and he wolde streyht runne to ye Kynge and faun uppon hym and leape with his fore fete upon ye shoulders of ye Kynge. It came to passe that onne daye as ye Kynge and ye Erie of Darbye talked togyther in ye yarde of ye Courte ye Greyhounde who was wonte to leape uppon ye Kynge, left ye Kynge and came to ye Erie of Darbye, Duke of Lancastre, and made to hym the same friendlye continuance, and chere as he was wonte to do to ye Kynge. The Duke, who knew not ye dogge, nor whence he came, demanded of ye Kynge what ye Greyhounde wolde do. Cousin, quoth ye Kynge, it is a great good token to you, but an evyl and a gruesome signe to me. How know ye that, quod ye Duke. I know it fulle wele, quod ye Kynge. Ye Greyhounde acknowledg-ethe and acceptethe you, here this daye as ye ryteful Kynge of Englande, as ye shal be, without doubte, and I shal be streyghtwaye deposed; the Greyhounde hathe thys knowledge, naturally, there fore take hym to you, he wil followe you and forsake me.
Ye Duke wel un-derstoode those wordes and cheryshed ye Greyhounde, who wolde never after followe Kynge Richarde, but continued to follow at all tymes ye Duke of Lancastre." The owner of the dog an English Water Spaniel, tells the following anecdote, which is stated to be absolutely true: "I was once on the seacoast, when a small, ill-made and leaky fishing boat was cast on shore, on a dangerous reef of rocks. Three men and a boy of ten years, constituted the crew, the men swam to land, but were so bruised and knocked about against the rocks that they were unable to render any assistance to the poor boy, and no one was found to venture out to help him. I heard the noise and went to the spot with my dog, I spoke to him and in he went, more like a seal or other marine animal, than a dog, and after several vain attempts succeeded in mounting the wreck and laid hold of the boy's clothes, who screamed and clung to the ropes, etc., being much frightened at being thus dragged into the water, as the waves were dashing over the rocks. In the excitement and anxiety of the moment I thought the dog had missed his hold, and stripped off most of my clothes to render what assistance I could.
I was just in the act of springing in, having selected the time when the receding waves gave the best chance, when I caught sight of old Bagsman, as my dog was called, with the struggling boy, whose head was uppermost. I rushed to where they must land and received both as they reached the shore.
Some time after I was out with the same dog, wild fowl shooting. We had both been hard at work and I left him behind me, while I went to a neighbouring town to get a supply of gunpowder. A man in a drunken frolic had pushed off in a boat with a girl in it, the tide running out, carried the boat quickly away, and the man being unable to swim, became frightened and jumped overboard. Bagsman was near the spot, heard the splash, jumped in, swam to the man, caught hold of him and brought him twenty or thirty yards towards shore, when the drunken fellow clasped the dog tightly round the body, and they both went down together. The girl was saved by a boat going to her assistance. The body of the man was recovered about an hour afterward with that of the dog, tightly clasped in his arms, thus dragging both to the bottom".
The sagacity of the Poodle is well known, and their aptitude to learn tricks. Mr. Wilkie, of Ladiethorn, in Northumberland, had one he had instructed to go through all the apparent agonies of death. He would fall on his side, stretch himself out and move his hind legs as if he were in great pain; he would next simulate the convulsive throbs of departing life, and then stretch out his limbs, and thus seem as if he had expired; in this position he would remain motionless, until he heard his master's command to rise.
Jesse, in his "Gleanings in Natural History," gives another illustration of the intelligence of this breed. A friend of his had one that was not always under proper command. To keep him in better order he purchased a small whip, with which he, once or twice, corrected him during a walk. On his return the whip was put on a table in the hall, but the next morning it was missing. Soon afterwards it was found concealed in an outhouse, and again used in correcting the dog. Once more it would have been lost, but on a strict watch being kept upon the suspected dog, he was seen to take it away from the hall table in order to once more hide it away.
There are endless stories told of the life saving qualities of Newfoundland dogs. I will here mention two of them. A German was travelling one evening on foot through the Dyke country in Holland, accompanied by a large specimen of this breed, walking on a high bank which formed one side of a dyke, his foot slipped and he was precipitated into the water, and being unable to swim soon lost his senses. When he recovered consciousness, he found himself in a cottage on the other side of the dyke, surrounded by peasants, who had been using the means for the recovery of drowned persons. The account given him by one of them was, that returning home from work he observed, some distance off, a large dog in the water, swimming and dragging, and sometimes pushing along something that he seemed to have great difficulty in supporting, but which he at length succeeded in getting into a small creek on the opposite side. When the animal had pulled what he had hitherto supported, as far out of the water as he was able, the peasant was able to discover that it was the body of a man, whose face and hands the dog was industriously licking.