Last weekend, Manuel Delgado was on a bike ride through the mountains outside Madrid, Spain, when he spotted something that made his heart sink. There, on a quiet road through the scenic landscape, was a wounded creature in desperate need of help.
Or so he thought.
Delgado had noticed a couple ahead of him gazing concernedly at something on the roadside. As he got closer, he realized they were standing over the lifeless-looking body of a large dog. Delgado decided to stop and see if he could help.
“They said they were just out for a stroll when they saw this dog coming toward them,” Delgado told The Dodo. “And then he simply dropped dead. Just like that. There was no movement. He was not showing any sign of life.”
They had tried cajoling the dog with some comforting caresses, but he gave no response. (Though they came to find out later that he was most certainly enjoying it.)
The dog was wearing a collar with a phone number and his name: Tizón. Delgado and the couple called, but the line went straight to voicemail. So, hoping there might still be time to save the dog, Delgado decided to dial the police for help.
Much to his surprise, he learned that authorities in town were already aware of the situation.
“Turns out, Tizón is very well known by the local police. They said that nearly every day, someone phones them to say that there’s a dog in this spot who is wounded,” Delgado recalled. “The police said that he is just pretending, and that he does this to everybody who passes, so they’ll be tricked into petting him or giving him food.”
Delgado glanced back down at the seemingly dead dog and was in shock: “It was totally against what I seeing — this dog looked dead or very badly injured. For a couple of seconds, I thought I was on ‘Candid Camera.’”
But then, as a test, Delgado and the couple stepped away from dog and pretended to ignore him. And sure enough, he sprang back to life.
“Once we got a couple of meters away, he started acting like a normal dog,” Delgado said. “He got up, walked over to us and dropped dead again. His acting was perfect.”
The police told Delgado that Tizón is a shepherd dog who lives on that property. Seeing him up and about, it was obvious that he was very well cared for by his owners and actually in perfect health. This routine of playing dead was just an adorable trick he pulls on passersby.
“He was definitely looking for attention,” Delgado said. “And he got it.”
In the end, Delgado continued on his way, freeing Tizón to rope in his next mark. But despite having been so sweetly duped, Delgado couldn’t help but smile at what the success of Tizón’s tactic implies in the grand scheme of things:
“If the police are being called nearly every day, it means there are plenty of people out there who refuse to ignore a dog who might be injured,” he said. “It’s a good sign of the times, I do believe.”
Tizón, take a bow.