Dog ‘copies his injured owner’s limp out of sympathy’

Russell Jones limps home on crutches with dog Bill (Picture: Russell Jones/Facebook)

A man with a broken leg has claimed he spent £300 in vet bills only to conclude his lurcher was limping out of ‘sympathy’.

Russell Jones shared footage of him using crutches to walk home with a cast on his right leg. His dog Bill is seen hopping along beside him with his paw raised, apparently in an effort to copy his own movements. Mr Jones said the vet and x-ray had found ‘nothing wrong’ with his dog, but experts have urged him to get a second opinion as dogs have to be trained to imitate people and will not do it ‘out of sympathy’.

Sharing the viral footage to Facebook, Mr Jones wrote: ‘Cost me £300 in vet fees and X-rays, nothing wrong just sympathy. Love him.’

Many have taken the viral video as a demonstration of ‘pure love’ that shows just how ‘in tune’ animals are with humans.

But clinical animal behaviourist Rosie Bescoby believes Bill is ‘actually in pain’ and not bearing weight for a physical reason. ‘I would have suggested the owner seek a second opinion from another vet and there are plenty of things that would not show up on an X-ray that can cause this, even as small as a thorn in the foot,’ the dog expert told MailOnline.

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Bill the lurcher limps beside his owner (Picture: Russell Jones/Facebook)
limping lurcher dog, Russell Jones, Facebook
Russell Jones took lurcher Bill to the vets for a check up (Picture: Facebook)

‘It would be complete coincidence that the dog has shown this behaviour at the same time the owner is in a cast.

‘Lurchers are not known for their bravery when it comes to pain so it may be that something fairly minor was causing the issue but I am afraid myself and my colleagues will categorically state that this is not a happy dog.’

There have been studies that found dogs – which have been trained – imitate their owners even without the prospect of a reward.

In a 2011 study at the University of Vienna, scientists said they found the first evidence of ‘automatic imitation’ in dogs.

Dogs were trained to open a sliding door using their head or paw, and were then made to watch their human ‘pack leader’ do the same.

The researchers found the dogs were more inclined to imitate whatever their pack leader did.

Lead author Friederike Range said: ‘This suggests that, like humans, dogs are subject to “automatic imitation”.’

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