That was exactly what happened to a UK man who had spent around £300 on vet bills after his pet dog started limping, only to realise later that the animal was hale and hearty, but was only limping out of sympathy for him.
According to Odditycentral.com, Russell Jones was left unable to walk without limping after breaking his ankle in an accident last year.
One day, while out on a walk with his dog Billy, Russel noticed that the canine was limping as well.
On another occasion, as he was limping around the house, his partner Michelle noticed that Billy was limping too, so they called a veterinary officer to have the dog checked out. It was only after paying around £300 ($410) for X-rays and checkups that he learnt that Billy was only imitating his gait out of sympathy, the news portal reported.
“Basically, the next day [after breaking his ankle] as I was limping around the house, Michelle noticed that he was sort of copying me. That rose the concern that there might be something wrong with him, so we phoned the vet,” Jones told ITV’s This Morning. “Because of social distancing, he walked in [to the vets] normally, and when he came out, they said they couldn’t find anything wrong with him. Then again, he started limping, so Michelle filmed it.”
The allegation that the dog was only imitating its owner was reinforced after the London-based couple noticed that the eight-year-old Lurcher sprinting around the garden without limping when Russell wasn’t around.
When a video of Russel and Billy both limping during a walk was posted to social media, it went viral with most viewers expressing hilarious reactions. Some people wished both Russell Jones and his dog a speedy recovery.
“He’s copying you. That’s brilliant! Though you have my sympathy for the vet's bill,” a viewer wrote.
“He’s come out in sympathy with you! Speedy recovery to both of you,” another person said.
Reports say a 2011 study found evidence of ‘automatic imitation’ in dogs. According to Odditycentral.com, scientists found that dogs will imitate their owners even when it is not in their best interest to do so.