“Help! Help me!” Guardians stuck in a box called out, hoping that their dogs who were free outside the cage would release them from their plight. No, it’s not the latest dystopian novel. It’s the latest experiment from the Canine Science Collaboratory at Arizona State University. Researchers Joshua Van Bourg, Jordan Elizabeth Patterson and Clive D. L. Wynne (the director) set up this situation for 60 dog/guardian pairs. They were investigating dogs’ inclination to find their inner Lassies and rescue their humans-in-distress. Results were published in the study “Pet dogs (Canis lupus familiaris) release their trapped and distressed owners: Individual variation and evidence of emotional contagion”.

In the test situation, guardians were enclosed in a box that superficially resembles a crate made out of peg board with one side of it closed off with a lightweight piece of…

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