Every Night, This Dog Waits in Vain for the Same Train Car
There are some things in life you can count on. The sun is going to come up tomorrow morning, and the certainty of taxes will still be there indefinitely. At a train station in India, there seems to be a canine constant as well.
Since January 2, a stray female dog has been consistently visiting the Kanjurmarg Railway Station in Mumbai. When the Kalyan-bound train comes every night around 11 p.m., she chases after the women's coach, peeking into doorways and scanning windows in search of something—or someone. (Related: "Welcome to the Land of a Thousand Stray Dogs")
"I think someone has left her or she was abandoned," says Sameer Thorat, a local who filmed the clip. As an IT specialist, Thorat commutes to work every day between 3 p.m. and midnight, and he started seeing the reoccurring canine about two weeks ago.
Thorat is a self-proclaimed animal lover, and he has a dog himself. He wanted to help the stray and figure out her reason for running after the train, so he posted footage of the dog on social media. Although he's taken the post down, the clip attracted concerned commuters who soon discovered the dog has four 10-to-12-day-old puppies.
"We are not moving her from that place because the puppies are very small," Thorat says. "Their eyes are not open yet."
A Basset hound.
Thorat suspects an owner abandoned the dog after she got pregnant, and he has coordinated with locals and organizations to care for and feed her. He says he has tried to find her owner, but to no avail.
Searching in Vain
"That dog is looking for somebody," says Karen Overall, a canine behavior expert at the University of Pennslyvania.
Overall says the dog is obviously distressed, and the person she's looking for could have moved or died. She will likely continue to wait for her owner, craving the kindness, understanding, and love that can only come from a relationship between a human and her dog. (Get the facts on if your dog would eat you if you died.)
"This dog is an optimist," Overall says. "It's interesting that this dog would have a relationship with someone that is so strong that she would still look [for her]."
Stanley Coren, a University of British Columbia psychology professor and author on all things dog psych, says that with the level of loyalty and persistence in this dog's behavior, she's most likely looking for an owner or long-term companion who's no longer around. (Science answers why dogs are so friendly.)
"Dogs have no concept of death, but they do have a concept of loyalty," Coren says. "The mind of a dog is sort of the equivalent of the mind of a 2- or 3-year old [toddler]."
There's the famous story of Hachikō, an Akita dog born in 1925 who used to greet his owner every day at Tokyo's Shibuya Train Station. After the man died at his university job, the dog continued the ritual for nearly a decade. Today, there's a popular statue dedicated to the dog next to the station.
There's also the story of Shep the sheep dog. When his owner died in the summer of 1936 and his remains were sent off on a train to relatives, Shep followed the box from the Fort Benton train depot. He stayed with the train but soon returned to the station, where he kept a vigil there for the next five and a half years.
To know more about the dog at the Mumbai station, Coren says we'd have to look into her history to see what kind of a relationship she had with her owner. But since the stray dog doesn't have a collar, figuring that out is unlikely.
"That's going to remain a mystery," Coren says.
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