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How a Dog Stopped a Cat from Attacking a Rabbit
Blue loves small animals
My collie dog, Blue, is the most good-natured boy you could ever meet.
He lives with cats, a guinea pig and other small animals and gets on fine with everyone.
Now ten years old, he is a friendly little soul, often trotting up to people in the street when we are out walking, hoping they will pat him on the head.
It was about 8pm one Saturday evening when I was preparing to take Blue out for a walk. It was an unusual time for me to take him, but there had been a heatwave and it had been far too hot for him to go out earlier in the day.
Normally, he hops into the car and we drive to some grassed area for our walk. But I decided, on impulse, to walk him locally instead and leave the car at home. He is happy to do either and doesn't really mind where we go, as long as he has his walk.
Small rabbit was sitting at a garden gate
As we reached the halfway mark of our walk, I spotted a young rabbit in a garden, nibbling on some weeds on the drive.
I thought the householder was a little foolish to leave such a small rabbit out, as the gate had fairly wide bars and it could have escaped. But I decided it must be okay, or it would have run off. It seemed quite happy sitting there chewing away, so I continued on my way.
However, a growing sense of unease enveloped me as Blue and I continued on our way. I recalled a very elderly widowed gentleman lived at the house - I had stopped to talk to him sometimes when he was in his garden - and I was pretty sure he didn't have a pet rabbit.
Instinctively, I started walking more quickly, to the point where I was almost running. Blue was trotting along next to me, thoroughly enjoying the walk, but maybe sensing the urgency in my step.
As we headed home again, I knew I would have to walk back the same way and check if the rabbit was still in the garden.
As we approached the side gate, where I had seen the rabbit, I was worried there was no sign of him.
My fears escalated when I noticed the front gate was actually open and there was no fence which would have prevented the rabbit from wandering down the side of the house and straight out the front gate.
Rabbit running down the street
I didn't know how far he could have wandered and started to wish I had picked him up when I first saw him. I should have trusted my gut instinct.
However, as I wandered round the block looking for him - and pointlessly shouting, "Where are you, rabbit?" as if he would understand - I spotted him running down the pavement about 30 yards away.
He was dangerously near the road, which was always quite busy. I was scared I would startle him and cause him to bolt into the traffic.
So Blue and I started walking slowly towards him, very quietly. He had his back to us, so didn't see us approaching.
Cat appeared from nowhere
We were still a fair distance from him, as he was hopping along fairly quickly, when I spotted a cat stalking him from the other side of the road.
I recognised the cat. He was a big Tom who lived further up the street. Often, when out walking on my own without my dogs, I would see him and he would come and purr up against my legs, demanding attention.
But he was definitely not in a friendly mood on this occasion and was behaving in an instinctive manner. He had spotted the rabbit and was after him! I didn't know where the cat had been hiding, as he seemed to appear from nowhere, but he definitely intended pouncing on the baby rabbit. I could tell from his body language.
I still didn't want to shout or make any sudden moves in case I scared the rabbit and he ran into traffic. So I hastened my step, Blue running along in front of me by this time.
It was as if he now sensed my anxiety for sure and there was a determination in his step. He was a dog on a mission!
What happened next truly amazed me, because it happened so quickly and was so out of character for Blue, such a friendly and even-tempered little dog. He never even looks at cats in the street normally. He would certainly never chase one.
Everything happened in a split second ... the rabbit stopped running along the pavement, thankfully, turning slightly to the right to make a detour through someone's garden gate, hopping through the bars.
The cat, still on the other side of the road and slightly behind the rabbit, must have seen this as his opportunity to pounce. There was no traffic in the road as the cat darted at great speed from under the parked car where he had been hiding. He was only a few feet away from the rabbit, who was still oblivious to the fact he was being stalked.
The cat obviously intended darting through the wrought-iron gate too, breaking into a run.
Blue sprang into action
I knew I couldn't reach the rabbit before the cat did, as they were too far away and I couldn't run fast enough, although I tried.
Blue was running along now in front of me and suddenly did something totally out of character. As soon as the cat broke his cover and sped out from under the parked car, my little collie lurched forward on his lead, pulling me behind him, barking furiously!
He actually put himself between the cat and the rabbit and continued to bark. He made no attempt to attack the cat - he would never do that - but appeared to be warning him off!
He stood his ground on the kerb and barked manically, facing the cat, until the cat thought better of it and ran off up the street.
Only then did Blue stop barking and instead stood facing me, jumping up and whining excitedly, while the rabbit sat next to the garden gate, frozen with fear and not moving. He was such a tiny rabbit, it was very easy to scoop him up with one hand. He made no attempt to run away from me.
Rabbit had escaped from a neighbouring house
I wondered what to do, as I was still some distance from home, plus it would have been difficult to go knocking on doors to see if anyone had lost a rabbit, as Blue was very animated and excited.
I also worried about going to strangers' houses in case any of them had a dog which objected to Blue being on their doorstep.
I decided I'd have to take the rabbit home for the night and make enquiries in the morning. I had him firmly tucked up against my chest, but was still worried he would escape.
However, the problem was solved when a young woman appeared from a nearby house. She had been alerted by Blue's barking and had looked out to see what was happening. She recognised the rabbit as belonging to a family with children who lived on an adjoining street and she took him home.
So thankfully, the tale had a happy ending.
Do animals have compassion for other species?
As I walked home with Blue - who had calmed down again by this time - it made me think how he had quite possibly saved the rabbit's life.
He must have sensed something was wrong and that it was under attack and had leapt to its defence.
I know this for sure, because Blue lives with four cats and even lets them sit in his kennel if they are outside and it starts raining! So he has no animosity towards cats as a species in general, as he has grown up with them.
He even sleeps in a bedroom with one of the cats at night.
Blue is such an intelligent little dog, nothing he does surprises me. He was, quite simply, protecting a creature smaller and weaker than himself from attack.
Never underestimate your dog! Anyone who is a dog-lover will relate to this sentiment.
But to anyone who says it is "just a dog", I would beg to differ.