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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
Today both dogs ran under the hedge after hearing some cat or dog and 1 second later, without making a sound, Merlin came back to me, walking on three legs. He sat right in front of me, in a way he never does, and kept the left hind paw in the air, looking worried. He was showing me he was hurt.

I reacted right away, called the vet (couldn’t get an appointment) and after looking carefully at the paw, decided it was either an insect bite or having stepped on something poisonous. The paw was swollen and red. So I googled and quickly treated by first applying baking soda and water, then doing multiple foot soaking in cold water with a bit of ice for a few minutes each times. I also disinfected it. It worked, because a while later he started walking on it again, then running, then stopped licking and finally he was fine. I wish I could have given him pain killer but the vet refuses to help with that over the phone.

Anyways, my post is not about the treatment, but rather about why Merlin came to me. I feel he came because he knew I was going to treat him and provide relief. But that goes against everything I’ve always believed, ie dogs do not understand the concept of action / reaction. Me treating him and the relief coming from it is a direct consequence of a specific action that he would have been looking for, if my thinking is right. It is hard to believe but I can’t get it out of my head.

What do you think ? Was he merely looking for reassurance or did he know I would take care of his pain ?
 

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Ouch. Glad Merlin is doing okay now. :(

I think he was definitely coming to you for help. Peggy has come to me for help when she had a stick jammed across the back of her mouth and when she was choking on a piece of chicken jerky. She also stayed perfectly still so I could help untangle her topknot from the thorns of a rose bush, when I’m sure her more basic instincts were telling her to struggle.
 

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Discussion Starter · #7 ·
I would have to say both reassurance and help--just like a child would. Don't care if I'm anthropomorphizing here.
I think you’re right. And it’s very weird that in over 40 years of dog ownership it's the first time I feel it so much. I mean, yes, my dogs ask me for stuff all the time, and I do oblige. But it’s just the first time one has asked so directly for pain relief.

I really felt like Merlin was a little kid asking me to put a band-aid on its hand or foot after falling and scratching himself. I feel humbled. Dogs are such wonderful creatures.
 

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Definitely for help. Over a decade ago, my dog Emily had a growth removed from her foot. We had to change the dressings on it. I would come home from work at lunch to check on her. One day toward the end of needing to wrap it, I walked in the door to find her waiting there for me, paw in the air. I had wrapped it too tightly that morning and it was swollen. She knew I would be home and knew I would help, though she surely could have just ripped the bandage off herself. 🥲
 

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I too think he came for help, and remembering what a scared, anxious little dog he was when he first came to you my heart is glad for the bond of trust that has grown up to replace his fear.
 

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Glad you were able to make Merlin feel better.

I think it was both.
 
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