The Heavy Breathing on the Phone Turns Out to Be … a Dog

It wasn't an obscene phone call to emergency dispatch; a dog had stolen a phone and dialed.


Heavy breathers on the phone have been around almost as long as the telephone itself. While it’s true that the first official phone call was Alexander Graham Bell saying “Mr. Watson — Come here — I want to see you,” it’s almost a sure bet that sometime very soon after that was the first obscene phone call. Maybe someone broke into Bell and Watson’s lab just for the purpose.

So, it’s understandable if the operators on a certain emergency dispatch line in England were not only perplexed, but a little creeped out when they answered and got nothing but heavy breathing. When the police showed up at the house, they found out that the caller was not some lewd member of what the Brits call the “Mackintosh Brigade,” but Leighton, a two-year-old Belgian Malinois. Apparently, Leighton had stolen his owner’s phone and somehow managed to dial 999 (the English equivalent of the American 911 service). He took the landline and ran off into the garden to … do whatever it is dogs do with stolen phones. In this case, that turned out to be calling the emergency services and panting into the microphone.

“Next thing I knew, there was a policewoman at the door asking if I was all right,” Leighton’s owner, Mary Amos-Cole, told the BBC. “That’s when we realized it must have been Leighton. She said a colleague answered the call and all he could hear was heavy breathing, which I guess was Leighton panting.”

But apparently, this isn’t the first time that Leighton has summoned the local police for his personal entertainment. According to Amos-Cole, he has such a history of this sort of thing that it’s almost become a habit with him. Several times, he’s set off the burglar alarm just by running around the house, bringing the police.

“He does seem to quite like the police,” Amos-Cole says. “He’s been in trouble a few times and seems to quite like them coming round. I actually think he has aspirations to be in uniform himself.”

If so, Leighton might want to lighten up on the thievery. His owner says that he likes to steal things and is especially fond of mobile phones. Most reputable police departments frown on that sort of thing, at least as part of their public policy.

For now, Leighton seems to be sticking to his career as a plainclothes dog, albeit with a touch of larceny in his heart. And hopefully, he’ll save his phone calls for more genuine emergencies.

“We all took it as a bit of a joke, but honestly, I could have ended up with the air ambulance or anything,” Amos-Cole said.


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