Sometimes, man’s best friend can also be one heck of a prankster! In June 2020, after breaking his ankle in an accident, Russell Jones noticed his 8-year-old pet Lurcher, Billy, was limping and seemingly not able to place any strength on his front paw. He and his wife, Michelle took their dog to the veterinarian to see what was wrong with its paw. They were not ready to hear what the vet had to say.
According to New York Post, the couple runs a cleaning business in Hoddesdon, England. While on the job, Russell suffered an ankle injury that forced him to have his leg in plaster for seven weeks. However, their dog Billy began to limp as well and believing that he might have stepped on a tack or thorn, the couple dropped what they were doing and put their focus on their dog’s health.
Despite the dog’s obvious limp and paying £300 (about $400) for the appointment, the vet told the couple that their dog did not have any issues with its paw. In an interview with the morning program, This Morning, Russell recalled watching his seemingly injured dog walk normally into the veterinarian’s office, as social distancing did not allow him to follow them in. However, upon returning home, Billy still was moving with a limp. Michelle actually took a video of the dog’s limp as evidence of an injury.
The next day, the truth was realized when Russell was away from the house. Billy went from a dog unable to place any weight on its limp to being able to streak across their green backyard like being shot out of a cannon, cutting and darting around the property, and swimming in the lake near their home. It turned out Billy, being the loyal dog he is, was empathizing with his injured father and mimicking the limp Russell had when he walked with crutches! Any time Russell would not be around, Billy would return to his normal motion, just like when he walked to the veterinarian’s office.
Michelle took a video of her dog’s “miraculous” recovery. Russell, still with a broken ankle, told the morning program he began to use his father’s mobility scooter to take his dog for walks. Billy’s limp seemed to go away as Russell was not walking with a limp on the scooter. Pets Web MD reveals in a study conducted by scientists at the University of Vienna and the University of Oxford that dogs “automatically and voluntarily imitate the behavior of their owners.” The study said:
“The dogs brought with them to the experiment a tendency automatically to imitate hand use and or paw use by their owner — to imitate these actions even when it was costly to do so, when imitation interfered with the efficient performance of an ongoing task.”
Therefore, when Russell began to walk with a limp, Billy decided to follow his owner’s new style of walking when he was around him.
The study suggested that this behavior could even be helpful when it comes to canine training, and why it may not be so helpful for Russell at the moment, perhaps he could take advantage of Billy’s behavior in the future.
According to the New York Post, the couple posted to Facebook a 12-second video of the injured Russell and the “injured” Billy walking to their home this past January. They captioned the video, “Cost me £300 in vet fees and X-rays, nothing wrong just sympathy. Love him.”
Some viewers decided to leave their own advice in the comments section. According to the New York Post, one read, “[You] should change your vet! Obviously something wrong.” Animal behaviorist Rosie Bescoby even told The Daily Mail something similar:
“I would have suggested the owner seek a second opinion from another vet.”
Since posting it, the video has been shared over 55,000 times and liked by over 40,000 people. The vast majority of the comments were either laughing at the situation or complimenting the love that dog had shown his owner by imitating his limp. That being said, there were a number of individuals who did not get the joke and believed the dog was actually injured and the owners and the veterinarian were not taking the dog’s “injury” seriously. When asked this during their interview, the couple laughed and said they would send videos of the dog shortly after the episode of him swimming disproving any injury to Billy. Host Phillip Schofield jokingly referred to Billy as “the biggest con artist we’ve spoken to.”
If there are two aspects you should take from this story, these are this: Dogs truly love their owners, and sometimes, a prank can both make us laugh and hurt our wallets!
What are some of your favorite memories with your pets? Have you ever noticed any weird actions they do? Let us know in the comments and share to get other’s reactions to Billy’s story.