Cap: Florence Nightingale's First Patient

It was Cap, a sheepdog, who inspired Florence Nightingale to become a nurse and make huge changes to the now professional field.

In 1837, some mischievous boys threw stones at a sheepdog who was napping on a doorstep. One stone hit his leg, causing so much pain that the dog could not put his leg down on the ground. Roger, the shepherd that owned the dog named Cap, knew his leg had to be broken and he would no longer be able to perform his job taking care of the sheep. Because Roger was so poor, he could not afford to keep the dog as a pet so his plan was to hang him.

Seventeen year old Florence Nightingale, who lived nearby and knew both Roger and Cap, and a local clergyman stopped by Roger's place and learned about the dog. The clergyman examined Cap's leg and told the others the dog did not have a broken bone. It was just badly bruised and warm compresses could help him get better. Florence took great care of Cap, applying warm compresses made of old flannel to his injured leg. She did this daily, and in no time Cap was back to his normal self.

The work she performed was gratifying, and Florence believed this was a sign from God telling her to devote her life to healing others. She later trained as a nurse, and went on to turn nursing into a respectable profession.