When Jade the German Shepherd sprinted into the bushes during a walk, lay down and refused to return to her guardian, her behavior was literally life-saving. When Roger Wilday came over to his dog, he discovered that Jade was lying next to an abandoned newborn baby. According to doctors, she would not have survived more than a couple of hours longer on her own. The baby, who hospital workers named Jade in honor of the dog who saved her, is doing well, and efforts to find her parents are underway.
Naturally, it makes us feel good to know that a dog’s keen ears or nose led her to a baby in desperate need of help, which saved her life. What I find most interesting about this story, though, is that the dog took the initiative to head toward the baby and wouldn’t leave. She refused even though the guardian presumably wasn’t initially thrilled that his dog ran off and wouldn’t come when called.
Jade was apparently eager to communicate with her guardian that he needed to come investigate, and she behaved in a way that caused him to do exactly that. This is a dog who is very fond of children, as many dogs are, yet her understanding of the situation seems to extend beyond a simple, “This is a baby and I like to be near babies.” Her behavior suggests that she wanted her guardian to find the baby, too.
Karen B. London, PhD, is a Certified Applied Animal Behaviorist and Certified Professional Dog Trainer whose clinical work over the last 17 years has focused on the evaluation and treatment of serious behavioral problems in dogs, especially aggression. Karen has been writing the behavior column for The Bark since 2012 and wrote The Bark’s training column and various other articles for eight years before that. She is an adjunct professor in the Department of Biological Sciences at Northern Arizona University, and teaches a tropical field biology course in Costa Rica. Karen writes an animal column, The London Zoo, which appear in The Arizona Daily Sun and is the author of five books on canine training and behavior. She is working on her next book, which she expects to be published in 2017.