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.
Another case I had was the two well-known champions, Rob Roy and Laird, two of the best Dandies going at the time they were about. Neither of them had any idea what fear was, but each hated the other with the most deadly hatred, and even to hear the bark of the one, would set the other screaming to get at him, and yet they were both docile with people, and mostly with other dogs, but Laird had a particular dislike to any dog, running in front of a vehicle and barking at the horse, and this aversion was the cause of his sudden death. Cedar Lodge, Downend, Glo., where I then lived, was the corner of one of four roads, with a large lawn on the two front sides of it, and it was Laird's delight to sit on the top of a low wall, there, and watch the passers by; one morning, early, he was thus engaged, when a crank axle cart came rumbling along, accompanied by a good-sized dog, barking in front of the horse; this was too much for Laird, who sprang from the wall into the road and pinned the dog, and before the man could pull up his horse, the wheels of the cart had gone over the fighting dogs in the road with fatal effects on one of the combatants, as Laird, without a whimper, though he must have been seriously injured, walked slowly into the house, lay down in his own box, and died then and there!
Another case of sudden antipathy I remember was between two Skye Bitches of mine, Laura and Lucy (winners of some fifty prizes at all the best shows, while they were about), I bought, on the dispersal of Mrs. Jacobson's kennel, after her lamented death. She was a genuine fancier, and sportswoman, and all her dogs were sure to be "workers," and thoroughly game. One of them was drop-eared, and the other prick-eared, and for a long time they were the best of friends, and not only lived together in one kennel, but used to go to shows often considerable distances, such as Edinburgh, Darlington, and other places in a long low wicker basket, which just suited them without any partition or division in it. But one day they had some difference of opinion, the cause of which I do not know, but there were "ructions," and they never could be trusted together again without the certainty of "war to the knife".
James Hogg, well known as the Ettrick shepherd, declares in his "Shepherd's Calendar" that dogs know what is said on subjects in which they are interested. A farmer had a dog that for three or four years in the latter part of his life, met him at the foot of his farm, about a mile and a half from his house, on his way home. If he was away half a day, a week, or a fortnight, it was all the same, she met him at that spot, there was never an instance known of her going to meet him, on a wrong day, and she could only know when he was coming back, by hearing it mentioned in the family.
I have had many dogs who knew Sunday perfectly well, whether by hearing the church bells, or other indications of the day, I do not know, but although wild to go if they saw me going out at any other time, on that day, they would take no notice nor make any attempt to follow me.
In the same way I have had many thin-coated dogs such as Bull and English Terriers, Smooth Toys and Pugs, who would not go out willingly in wet weather, but Sheep Dogs, Dalmatians, Deerhounds, Dandies, Scottish, Skyes and Wirehaired Fox Terriers, take no notice of it, beyond occasionally shaking themselves, to get rid of some of the water.
Another of Hogg's tales is as follows: "One of my Sheep dogs, named Hector, was very keen in picking up what was said before him." One day Hogg said to his mother, "I am going to Bowerhope to-morrow for a fortnight, but I will not take Hector with me, for he is constantly quarrelling with the rest of the dogs." Hector was present and must have overheard the conversation, as next morning he was missing, and when Hogg reached Bowerhope, Hector was sitting on a hillock, waiting his arrival, he had swum across a flooded river to reach the spot.
Retrievers have the reputation, either rightly or wrongly, of being quarrelsome with other dogs, and so are more often kept as guards or for sporting work, than as companions or pets, but the following are recorded of their sagacity. The inmates of a house in High street in a well-known city were aroused by the loud barking of a dog on the premises. He was a large Black Retriever, Jack, much attached to his master and family. The cause of alarm was soon seen to be a fire raging furiously next door, the smoke from which had aroused the dog. In a short time the house was emptied, all the inmates escaping before it caught fire, which appeared inevitable. Jack was often used to be left in charge of the house when the family were temporarily absent, and although not tied up, no persuasion or even coaxing would induce him to desert his post, so much so that it was four hours after he had given the first alarm of fire, that he allowed one of the family to persuade him to leave the building, which was then almost "gutted." In a marvellous manner, he had escaped injury from the fire, or falling walls, rafters, etc., but the shock to the system from the inhalation of smoke, etc., was so severe, that it caused inflammation of the lungs, and he died the next day, after suffering with coughing, etc., really a martyr to what he looked upon as his duty, and though occasionally taking a little water, refusing all food.
Another instance of sagacity occurred at Bristol, when a nursemaid wheeling a perambulator with a baby in it, down Spring Hill, which those of my readers who know the locality, will remember, is one of the steepest in that hilly part of the country, was seized with a fit, and loosened her hold. In an instant the little vehicle, with its living occupant, was darting down towards a flight of steps in the hill and apparently to certain destruction. Just before its arrival at the steps, the leathern apron of the perambulator was seized by a Retriever dog, who happened to witness the occurrence, and saw the danger of it, the vehicle was stopped and the child saved from an untimely death.