Julia E. Meyers-Manor who studies animal behavior and cognition had some experiments going on investigating empathy in rats that were running into some difficulties. Then, she had a dog-inspired epiphany.
“My children had buried me in a pile of pillows and I started calling out for help to my husband, who did not come to my aid.”
Her collie, however, came at a run and started digging her out. Aha, she wondered, why not use dogs and people instead of rats? The people would cry for help and the dogs would, or would not, respond.