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Karen B. London
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Dog Saves Frozen Feline
Cat’s best friend?
Frosty survived with a little help from his friends.

I am very interested in the interactions between different species. In fact, as a scientist, it is those interactions that I love to study and understand. For my first research project in graduate school, I investigated the nesting association of two species of tropical social wasps in order to understand why their nests are often found within a few centimeters of each other. No matter what the story is, if it involves more than one species, I’m interested.

 
Besides just loving dogs, I’m fascinated by the fact that we are two species with a shared and very close relationship, which is nothing short of a biological wonder. We talk about dogs as our best friends, yet, we have other friends, too. Similarly, dogs may consider members of species besides humans to be social partners, especially if they have been exposed to those species early in life.
 
It’s my interest in interactions between different species that led me to be so fascinated by a recent story from Coeur d’Alene, Idaho. During a blizzard earlier this year, a dog saved the life of a cat that had nearly frozen to death. The cat had apparently been living under the house of the man and dog who saved it. The dog brought the cat to his guardian, who brought it to the local human society because it was in bad shape and actually had a towel frozen to it with ice. The cat was severely hypothermic and its heart rate was very low. The staff at a local animal hospital worked saved the cat with treatment in lukewarm water to remove the towel and warm IV fluids.
 
The dog needed to interact with both the cat and humans to save the frozen feline, who was named Frosty by the staff at the Kootenai Humane Society. The dog needed to rescue Frosty from his hiding spot and then safely deliver it to the human in order for him to get proper care.
 
Do you know of situations in which a dog has truly acted as a cat’s best friend?

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Karen B. London, PhD, is a Bark columnist and a Certified Applied Animal Behaviorist specializing in the evaluation and treatment of serious behavior problems in the domestic dog.

Photo by Jerome A. Pollos

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Submitted by Carolyn | December 14 2010 |

What an interesting story. Depending on your viewpoint, the dog was just interested in the frozen cat and picked it up ... or the dog consciously took it to help, knowing it was in danger of freezing to death. Of course, I prefer to believe the latter. I find inter-species communication fascinating (when I was a kid, I was convinced that all the non-humans used telepathy). I look forward to more insights about what is really going on with inter-species communication -- is anyone actively researching it?

Submitted by Ashley | December 14 2010 |

I love this story! Thank you for sharing!

Submitted by Frances | December 15 2010 |

I hesitate to pour cold water on a nice story, but this does sound like pretty standard retrieving behaviour to me. I would love to believe the dog thought about the poor little cat, out in the freezing snow, and set out to rescue her, but suspect he actually came across something interesting and took it back to his human. My toy poodle brought me a sick baby rabbit when she was still a pup - I can guarantee that she was not thinking "rescue" at the time. I'm still glad the cat survived, though!

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