Balthasar and the Night Janitor

February 2, 2008

“Dogs are even able in old age to develop lasting and deep attachments if their love and bonding are reciprocated. . .One very sweet mutt, Balthasar, escaped from his new master three times and came back to us at the university, and so we were stuck with him. We thought he bonded with us so strongly that he was unable to develop new attachments. Thus, Balthasar became the watchdog at the Göd research Station, which made everybody, including him, very happy. One day, when he was twelve years old and had to be considered a rather old dog, the research station hired an elderly person as night janitor and superintendent. One day I was looking for Balthasar in vain. My colleagues told me that recently he started to leave in the mornings with the night janitor, only to return to ‘job’ at night. I learned from the group that Balthasar and the old janitor got to like each other quite a bit. “Just think,” they said, “they sleep together and he even buys Balthasar hot dogs.” Unfortunately, this relationship lasted only a few months, because the night janitor became ill, had to be hospitalized, and eventually died. In spite of this, Balthasar would disappear from time to time, particularly in the mornings. We tracked down what he was doing during his absences, and found that he would cross the busy highway, got to his adoptive master’s old house in the village, and sit in front of it for hours.”

– from If Dogs Could Talk; Exploring the Canine Mind by Vilmos Csányi, translated by Richard E. Quandt, North Point Press, Farrar, Straus and Giroux, New York, NY, 2005. Originally published in 2000 by Vince Kiadó Kft., Hungary


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