Remember “Lassie,” the canine superhero of 1950’s TV, who always barked to bring help for someone in trouble? It may not be airing anymore, but researchers at Johns Hopkins University tell us we can still count on our four-legged friends if we’re in trouble.
34 dogs, some of which are therapy dogs, were put to the test. Their owners, sitting behind a glass door, cried for help. Would the dogs notice?
Dogs opened the door three times faster for crying owners than fogs whose owners were just humming “Twinkle, Twinkle, Little Star.” The more in tune the dog was with the owner, the more quickly the dog opened the door.
Therapy dogs were not necessarily more likely to open the door, and weren’t any faster at getting it done.
The dogs who opened the door seemed less stressed after they did it, according to the researcher’s work on canine behavior.
Dogs who listened to their owners crying but didn’t open the door seemed to be the most stressed. Researchers believe it’s not that they didn’t care, but that they were so troubled by the crying that they just froze.