20 Exceptional Dogs And Their Tales

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Some dogs have gone down in history as heroes who fought in wars and saved lives, others will always be remembered for unprecedented loyalty or exceptional deeds. There have also been dogs who have become immortalized as explorers, pioneers, adventurers and celebrities. Whatever the case, these incredible dogs and their stories show that there’s so much more to dogs than we could ever imagine.

 1. FIDO

Some of the most heart-warming dog stories include devoted pooches who showed unshaken loyalty to their dead owners, and died waiting for them. One such dog was Fido, an Italian street dog whose name means ‘faithful’ in Latin, and who became a synonym for loyalty.

Fido’s remarkable story begins one night in November 1941 when Carlo Soriani found him injured in a ditch, took him home and nursed him back to health. In return for his kindness, Soriani had Fido’s loyalty for the rest of his life.

Each and every day, Fido waited for his human at the bus stop, and nothing, not even bombs could have made him leave the station without Soriani. One day, however, Fido’s human didn’t return. His factory had been hit, and Soriani died.  Fido showed up at the bus stop the following day. And the day after that. The remarkable dog waited for his dead owner to return for 14 years, received widespread media attention, honors and medals, but all he ever wanted was for Soriani to come home. Fido died heartbroken.

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2. HACHIKO

Hachiko’s legendary story dates back to the 1920s when Professor Hidesaburo Ueno took him as a pet. Ueno and his golden brown Akita developed an unbelievable bond, and the loyal pooch greeted his beloved human at the end of each day at the local train station. Sadly, their friendship didn’t last long. One day, the Professor suffered a cerebral hemorrhage and died, never returning to the station.

Hachiko, ever vigilant, still waited, watched trains and hoped to see his owner once again. The kind-hearted Akita returned to the station for the following nine years, nine months and fifteen days, until his own passing in 1935. Hachiko was an inspiration to the people of Japan and quickly became a legendary figure and a national symbol of loyalty.

The University of Tokyo recently unveiled a statue commemorating the 80th anniversary of Hachiko’s death, and although the Akita and his Professor never reunited in life, they will forever be reunited in statue.

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3. GREYFRIAR’S BOBBY

Another incredibly loyal dog, Bobby, was John Gray’s little Skye Terrier who stood vigil for his dead master until his own death. Gray, also known as Auld Jock, wasn’t able to find a job as a gardener, his original occupation, and decided to join the Edinburg Police as constable

No.90 where he was required to get a watch dog. The two became inseparable, and later immortalized in Scottish history. Gray died of tuberculosis in 1858 and was buried in an unmarked grave in Greyfriar’s Kirkyard, but was never forgotten thanks to his dog. Namely, Bobby refused to leave his dead owner’s side and lay over his human’s grave every day for 14 years.

The faithful pooch became a sensation in Scotland, and people from all around the country would come to see him and wait for the One O’ Clock Gun to be fired, Bobby’s signal to leave his post for a few minutes to be fed by the kind locals.

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4. BARRY

The Saint Bernard, also known as the gentle giant, was bred for hundreds of years by monks for one purpose, to rescue travelers who got lost and buried in the snow at the Saint Bernard Pass, a snowy region between Switzerland and Italy.

Famous for their courage, Saint Bernards always traveled in pairs so that when they found a person in need, one pooch could dig them up and keep them warm while the other rushed back for help. One of the most famous Saint Bernards is Barry, a brave dog who saved 40 people during his lifetime. Barry’s most heroic rescue was of a small child who got trapped in the ice and snow.

He somehow managed to reach the boy and keep him warm until help arrived.  However, the monks couldn’t get to the child so Barry pulled him to safety by letting him climb onto his back while he dug their way through the snow. Barry was such a remarkable rescue dog that after his death there has always been one Saint Bernard at the monastery named after him.

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5. LAIKA

A stray dog from the streets of Moscow, Laika was one of the first animals in space and the first living creature to orbit the Earth. Since scientists were not sure if humans were able to survive the launch or the conditions of outer space, animals were used as test subjects.

Laika was trained along with two other street dogs for the one-way space mission in 1957, but was eventually selected as the sole occupant of the Soviet spacecraft Sputnik 2. At the time, there was no technology that enabled the spacecraft to return to Earth safety, so Soviet officials claimed she was euthanized before the oxygen ran out on the sixth day of orbit.

However, the true cause of Laika’s death was not made public until 2002 when it was revealed that she actually died within hours of overheating. Six years later, Russian officials unveiled a monument in her honor near the facility where she was prepared for the mission.

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6. LEX

Working in Fallujah, Iraq with US Marine Corps Cpl. Dustin J. Lee, Lex was seriously injured in an attack that killed his 20-year-old handler. Despite his own wounds, the faithful military dog refused to abandon his dead handler, and had to be dragged away from his body to receive medical attention.

Lex was subsequently treated in America, where he fully recovered. However, Lee’s parents wanted to adopt their son’s beloved dog and appealed to the military to release him from service.

Although American armed forces don’t release military working dogs prior to retirement age, Lee was released from service and became the first active-duty dog to be granted early retirement to be adopted. The amazing pooch continued to work as a therapy dog, visiting military veterans at hospitals and retirement homes. In addition to being honored by the American Kennel Club with an Award for Canine Excellence, Lex was awarded an honorary Purple Heart.

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Dustin J. Lee with Lex in Iraq

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7. BAMSE

Another Saint Bernard who went down into history as one of the most incredible dogs that ever lived, Bamse served aboard a Norwegian minesweeper during WW2 and became legendary in Dundee and Montrose, where the ship was stationed at that time.

The clever pooch rode local buses alone, and wore a special bus pass tied around his neck, helped drunken sailors to return to their posts, and stopped bar fights. In addition to saving the lives of at least two members of the crew, Bamse also prevented sailors from hurting each other.

Reportedly, when sailors got into fights on board, the darling dog would stand on his hind legs and place his paws on their shoulders to calm them down. Though he was something of a celebrity in Scotland, Bamse was also famous in Norway. Namely, he wore a little sailor’s hat every Christmas and his crew photographed him so that his photo could be put on Christmas cards and sent to their families in Norway.

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Bamse being given a bath aboard the minesweeper HNoMS Thorodd

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8. SINBAD

Sinbad was an extraordinary mixed-breed canine sailor aboard the US Coast Guard Cutter George W. Campbell. The pooch, bought by Chief Boatswain’s Mate A. A. “Blackie” Rother, was initially intended to be a present to the officer’s girlfriend, but her apartment building didn’t allow dogs.

No crewman wanted Sinbad either, but they all agreed that he should stay on board. In order to justify the enlistment, the crew claimed Sinbad had all the characteristics of a sailor, including a strong fondness for coffee, beer and whiskey. The pooch joined up with the Coast Guard by leaving his pawprint on his very own enlistment papers and was even given his own unique service and Red Cross identification numbers, service record, and bunk.

Sinbad was at sea for a total of 11 years, and he was aboard the Campbell throughout WW2. For his bravery, Sinbad was eventually awarded the American Defense Service Medal, American Campaign Medal, European-African-MiddleEastern Campaign Medal, Asiatic-Pacific Campaign Medal, World War II Victory Medal, and the Navy Occupation Service Medal.

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9. SWANSEA JACK

One of the bravest dogs in history, Swansea Jack was a black retriever who became famous in Swansea, Wales, back in the 1930s. One day, Jack, who lived with his owner William Thomas, saw a boy drowning and saved his life. Since there were no witnesses, no one believed the child.

However, Jack didn’t stop there. After a couple of weeks, the courageous dog rescued another person, and there were people around to see his incredible deed. Jack continued to save unfortunate swimmers and reportedly rescued at least 27 people during his lifetime.

For his bravery, Jack was given the Bravest Dog of the Year Award, a silver cup from the Mayor of London, and he even received his very own statue. Most importantly, Jack is not forgotten – the Premiere League football team Swansea FC are called the Swansea Jacks in honor of the heroic dog.

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10. BALTO

Named after the Sami explored Samuel Balto, Balto was the lead sled dog on the last leg of the famous 1925 serum run to Nome. There was a serious outbreak of diphtheria in the Alaskan city, and the only serum that could stop the disease from spreading was in Anchorage, around 600 miles away.

Due to the extreme weather conditions in Alaska at the time, officials had no other choice than to rely on dogsleds to deliver the life-saving doses to Nome.

The dangerous run took seven days. Even though the longest stretch of the run was covered by Leonhard Seppala and his dog Togo, sled driver Gunnar Kaasen and Balto received most of the publicity. They were rightfully celebrated as heroes because Kaasen could barely see his hand in front of his face, and had to solely rely on Balto and the other dogs to reach the city.

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11. SMOKY

A famous World War Two dog, Smoky was an adorable 4-pound, 7-inch pooch who is believed to have revived the interest in the almost forgotten Yorkshire Terrier breed. Her story begins when an American solider found her abandoned in the jungle of New Guinea and sold her to another GI, Bill Wynne.

The two liked each other from the beginning, and soon they became inseparable friends. Wynne trained her, and the tiny dog even accompanied him for two years on combat fights in the Pacific. Apart from learning numerous tricks and entertaining troops, Smoky also saved her human’s life on more than one occasion by warning him of incoming danger.

When the war was over, Smoky and Wynne went home to Cleveland, and continued to brighten the days of many veterans. Almost 50 years after Smoky died, her statue was unveiled above the very place where the brave dog was buried.

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12. SERGEANT STUBBY

Way back in 1917, Sergeant Stubby found his way to the premises of Yale University campus in New Haven, Connecticut, and quickly became the mascot of the 102nd Infantry. While the pooch, whose breed has never been accurately determined, observed the unit train, one soldier, Corporal Robert Conroy, developed a great fondness for Stubby and eventually hid him on board the troop ship.

When the commanding officer discovered him, the smart dog saluted him, and was allowed to stay with the unit. Stubby served for a year and a half and took part in 17 battles on the Western Front.

More importantly, the pooch saved his soldiers from several gas attacks, located the wounded, and even caught a German spy. Because of his bravery and devotion, Stubby earned himself a promotion to sergeant, and became the only dog in history who received such a promotion through combat.

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13. BOB THE RAILWAY DOG

The most famous dog in Australian history, Bob the Railway Dog got his nickname because he simply adored trains. Born as a stray dog in 1882, Bob spent his early years following railway workers to work and spending time with them. The pooch was soon discovered and taken to a local pound, but a kind station guard decided to give him a chance and took him home.

Everything was fine in the beginning, and Bob’s new owner even allowed the dog to ride the train with him every day. Unfortunately, the man got a promotion and left Bob behind. But there was no stopping Bob. He started to travel across Southern Australia on his own, and soon became a national sensation.

Everyone liked him, and the engine driver gave him food and a warm place to sleep during the nights, before returning to the train the following morning. After becoming a celebrity dog, Bob also started attending banquets as a guest of honor. He was even given a special bracelet with an engraving informing people to let him go where he pleased. Bob had an exciting life, and went down in history as one of the most adventurous dogs ever.

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14. OWNEY

Just as Bob the Railway Dog loved trains, Owney had a thing for mailbags and followed them wherever they went. Reportedly, the dog was so attached to mailbags because his owner worked with mail. When his master left him, Owney started following his precious mailbags by land, train, and even boat.

Mail clerks loved seeing him because they believed that no train Owney traveled on would ever crash, and he quickly became a celebrity in the United States. In order to show everyone where he had been, the clerks started giving him little medals and attached them to his collar.

However, the pooch was always on the road, and the gifts no longer fit on his collar, so he was given a little jacket. After becoming famous, Owney even traveled around the world aboard an ocean liner, and visited America, Europe, and Asia. In case you were wondering, Owney also had his own postage stamp.

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15. JASMINE

Severely malnourished, abused and almost frozen to death, Jasmine was found in a locked garden shed by the English police in 2003. The terrified greyhound was quickly taken to an animal sanctuary, where she was nursed back to health and eventually started nurturing other animals.

Jasmine became famous for becoming a foster mother to over 50 abandoned and injured animals, including puppies, foxes, badger cubs, chicks, guinea pigs and rabbits. She also took care of a deer, and especially loved her baby goose. Not only did she help all of them to settle into their new surroundings, but Jasmine also doted on the animals as if they were her own.

The amazing pooch cuddled them, kept them warm, showered them with love and affection and made sure their furs were in excellent condition. After she died, people from all over the world made donations in her honor to the sanctuary which still cherishes her memory and helps animals in need.

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16. PAL, THE ORIGINAL LASSIE

One of the most legendary dogs ever, the original Lassie character was actually played by a male Rough Collie named Pal. Pal, the first animal actor to portray the iconic character, starred in Lassie Come Home, six other Lassie movies and two television pilots. After 11 years in the film industry, Pal retired and lived with his trainer Rudd Weatherwax until his death in 1958.

However, that was not the end of Lassie. Following In his father’s footsteps, Pal’s three-year-old son Lassie Jr. continued the family business and took over the role. In fact, ten generations of Pal’s descendants have portrayed Lassie in film, starting from Pal’s retirement in 1954.

It’s also interesting to note that despite the fact that Lassie’s character has always been female, every Collie who portrayed her was actually male. Namely, male Collies retain a thicker coat in the summer and are larger than their female counterparts, meaning that child actors would not outgrow them quickly.

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17. BUD NELSON

When Horatio Nelson Jackson decided to drive a car across the North American continent with his driving partner Sewall K. Crocker, the automobile pioneer was determined to bring a dog along. And that’s how Bud the Pit Bull became a legend.

In 1903, when their journey began, cars were nowhere near as safe as they are today. Apart from buying a roofless car with almost no suspension to protect them from the unpaved roads, Nelson had very little driving experience and no maps to follow.

Despite the fact that Crocker was a mechanic and chauffer, driving under those conditions was neither safe nor fun. But that didn’t stop them from achieving their goal and crossing America by car. And Bud was the star of the journey. He wore goggles to protect his eyes from the smoke and enjoyed the entire trip – not to mention the fact that Bud was the first dog ever to ride in a car across the country.

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18. ROLF

Although he was trained to help the Nazis to win World War II, Rolf was reportedly one of the most intelligent dogs in history. Determined to create the world’s first talking dogs and teach them to share their ideals, the Nazis were thrilled to see how smart Rolf was.

In fact, they even claimed that he could talk. Apparently, the pooch was able to communicate with humans by using a special dog Morse code and tapping his paw against a board.

According to the Nazis, Rolf was also a poet, and he understood several languages. Moreover, they claimed that he hated the French and supported the Nazi regime. Despite the fact that Rolf was not a super dog, at least not in the way Nazis wanted him to be, the pooch was definitely highly intelligent as he learned how to react to unconscious signals from his trainer.

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19. PICKLES

When Pickles unintentionally saved England from international embarrassment in 1966, the black and white Colie dog became an overnight sensation. He found himself in the spotlight, was lavished with attention, and even attended a banquet in his honor, where he received several presents.

It all started when the World Cup trophy was stolen just four months before the matches started, and the English were desperate to find the cup and avoid humiliation. Although the police received a ransom demand and even arrested the middleman, the thief was never caught. Just when England started to lose all hope, Pickles discovered the stolen trophy.

The adorable dog was being walked by his owner when he sniffed something out in the garden hedge and saved the day. At the end of the day, the English had every reason to celebrate. In addition to taking pride in the hero dog, they also won the World Cup and took home the prize.

 

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20. BUMMER AND LAZARUS

Way back in the 1860s, a time when stray dogs were mercilessly thrown in pounds, Bummer and Lazarus were allowed to roam the city of San Francisco and received attention wherever they went. They were major stars. The press informed the public about their every move, and the people were thrilled to read about the two inseparable pooches.

Believe it or not, even Mark Twain wrote about their friendship. And it was an exceptional relationship, indeed. Bummer was already living in San Francisco when another stray dog arrived in the city and lost a fight. Witnesses thought there was no helping him, until Bummer fought off the other dog’s attackers and helped the injured pooch to recover.

Once the dog recovered, he was given a new name, Lazarus. From that day, everyone was interested in their lives, and this bizarre public fascination went on until both of them died.

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