Stray dogs are a common sight in many places. Whether they’re the castoffs of bored humans, the products of castoffs, or pets who have merely gotten out and lost their way, they’re familiar.
In some other countries they’re seen as a nuisance more than anything else. In the states, if you see a little fluffy thing running along the street, there’s a pretty good bet it’s a wayward domestic.
You’ve probably even encountered a few yourself. Maybe you keep a leash and some dog food handy in your car, just in case.
Dogs are loyal animals to begin with, so seeing them out on their own, on the streets, is doubly sad: you worry for their safety, and you worry for their family.
But when family is not available, they make their own. In the absence of a comforting human presence, they turn to one another for comfort, and their loyalty is intense.
Five dogs in Lanzhou, China, illustrated this recently when one of the five was hit and left in the street. Though the other four had made it across safely, they turned back, unwilling to leave their companion alone, even if he had already passed.
Many people find these displays proof that dogs grieve and feel loss — they look like mourners, attending the funeral of a friend. They’re loyal, compassionate, and steadfast.
Others, including some witnesses of this scene, are of a different opinion. They believe that dogs simply do not have the capacity to understand death, and are instead waiting for their friend to get up so they can continue.
The sight is a haunting one, either way. They are clearly not ready to leave their friend’s side, whether they understand the finality of death or not. They refused to move, even when cars drove dangerously close to them.
Despite their best efforts to revive their companion, he was gone. They finally got out of the road when someone moved the body to the side, out of the way, where they’d be in less danger.