If the zombie apocalypse were ever to come (and who am I to say it won’t?), your much beloved cat will sense the shift in the world order and immediately align itself with the living dead. That’s just what cats do. Now, with a dog, it will be very different. Dogs are loyal and they’d stick by your side no matter what. The question is would this be a help or a hindrance?
The thing that got me thinking about this was the scene in the first series of The Walking Dead where a herd of ‘walkers’ suddenly stumble into the camp and start attacking people with little or no warning. When I saw it, my first thought was that a watch dog or two would have solved that problem. Dogs can be trained to detect the smell of dead bodies (they’re regularly used by the police and are known as cadaver dogs) and they’d be able to pick up the scent of the undead long before they got close enough to cause trouble. Sure, it wouldn’t make very interesting television, but hey, when the dead rise, it’s all about survival not entertainment.
However, it takes years to train a cadaver dog, and useful as they might be, it’s unlikely any of us will be able to get our hands on one. So what about your faithful family pet? How much use would he be? The answer to this question will depend on three things: The breed, how well he’s trained, and how much noise he tends to make. Basically, if you’re dog is something small, yappy and badly trained, it’s likely that all it will do is draw zombies to you from near and far. If it’s a bigger breed and you’ve taken the time to train it properly, then the chances are it will be much more use. In particular, you’ll need to have trained it to come on command, stay, and keep quiet when needed. This final one will be particularly important. When you’re huddling on the roof your campervan praying that the herd will pass before they realise you’re there the last thing you need is for your dog to start barking uncontrollably at them.
You can also think about training your dog with some more specialist skills. The ability to sniff out the undead, may be particularly useful as you can use to check buildings (after all, look how often people are killed in zombie movies when they venture into a building they presume is empty only to find it infested with the living dead – a well-trained dog would put a stop to that pretty much instantly!), and warn you of any that are approaching your camp, especially under cover of darkness. Of course, finding the right ‘Eau de Zombi’ to use in your training might prove difficult.
A well-trained dog could also act as a last line of defence. There seems to be some debate as to whether zombies will attack other animals (in the Walking Dead, yes as they eat a horse, in the remake of Dawn of the Dead, no as they let a dog pass unmolested), but either way, if a zombie gets into your camp, a well-trained dog could provide you with the vital seconds you need to kill it or get away.
So where does your faithful friend fit into all this? Well, you might not be able to change it’s breed, but you can certainly work on the training, starting right now. If you’re going to be a responsible dog owner, you should be training your dog in the basics anyway, and all you’ll need to do is adapt this to incorporate some additional post-apocalyptic elements. If you’re not already training your dog, you need to start thinking about it now. Not only will it help you survive when the dead rise, but it will make your dog ownership much more enjoyable. After all, owning a well-trained dog is a pleasure, while a poorly trained one is likely to cause you all sorts of problems, even if the zombie apocalypse never comes.
From the author of For Those In Peril On The Sea, a tale of post-apocalyptic survival in a world where zombie-like infected rule the land and all the last few human survivors can do is stay on their boats and try to survive. Now available in the UK. Click here or visit www.forthoseinperil.net to find out more.