Top 10 DOGS That Were HEROES
They're referred to as man's best friend, known for being loyal, and have even risked their lives to save others. In this installment, we're going to look at some truly memorable pooches throughout history. These aren't your morning cartoon canines, either; these are true tales of unforgettable hounds, and whether their story is heroic, tragic, or intriguing, they all earned their place in this video! Bust out the box of tissues, you might be blubbering at the end of this one!
This tiny Yorkshire Terrier is considered a hero by many, after serving alongside American troops in World War II. Smoky was found in February of 1944, hiding in a foxhole in New Guinea. As she didn’t respond to Japanese or English commands, the Americans that picked her up knew nothing of her origins, and eventually sold her to Corporal William A. Wynne. By the end of the war, the Corporal credited Smoky with having flown in 12 air and sea rescue and photo reconnaissance missions, survived 150 air raids, and even acted as Wynne’s own guardian angel during a bombardment of an LST they were on, guiding him away from incoming fire. Smoky’s greatest feat was aiding in the construction of an airfield by running a telegraph wire through dense soil, potentially saving the lives of 250 men. What could have been a dangerous three-day ordeal of digging was cut down to minutes due to Smoky’s efforts. In 1957, many happy years after her heroism during the war, Smoky died at the age of 14.
The Siberian husky, Balto, was a sled dog known for acts of heroics in 1925. During this period of time, a diphtheria outbreak was threatening to infect the young populace of Nome, Alaska, and there was only one aircraft that could deliver the medication needed from Seattle to the small town. Of course, that engine was frozen over and would not start. In desperation, all eyes turned to dog sled teams, who were believed to be able to get the needed serum of diphtheria antitoxin to Nome before things got out of hand. Lead by Gunnar Kaasen and Balto, the team overtook the Iditarod trail and completed their leg of the excursion in the dead of night. Knowing the serum was urgently needed, the team continued the run in place of another team, who were asleep upon Kaasen’s arrival. Balto’s efforts were praised by the nation and after his death in 1933, his remains were mounted and donated to the Cleveland Museum of Natural History to be on display for his heroism.
Sometimes, when human’s want to do something that may have a drastically negative effect on an individual’s life, they look to using something else as a stand-in. For the 1957 Soviet launch of the Sputnik 2 spacecraft, the 3-year-old Mongrel Laika was chosen from the streets of Moscow to replace a human to determine the effects of spaceflight on a living organism. The test didn’t go so well, as Laika died during her journey. Initially, it was believed she died from a lack of oxygen shortly after the experiment started, but a report that surfaced in 2002 stated what is believed to be the real cause of death. Laila died six days into the experiment from overheating, possibly caused by a failure of the central R-7 sustainer to separate from the payload. To make the incident seem a little more politically correct, the Soviet government claims Laika was euthanized before should could die of suffocation.
During the Iraq war in 2007, Corporal Dustin J. Lee and his military dog, Lex, came under fire while working within Company A’s forward operating base. A 73 mm rocket exploded within the base, sending shrapnel everywhere. While Lex survived the attack with injuries, his handler succumbed to his wounds. Lex refused to leave Lee’s side, forcing personnel to have to drag him away. Twelve weeks after the attack, Lex returned to full health and was ready to jump back into the fray when Lee’s parents appealed to adopt the canine. Though fully fit military dogs are typically exempt from retirement, Lex was granted release from his duties, making her the very first fully fit active military working dog to be granted an early retirement.
For a period of 11 years, the USCGC Campbell was home to a very special animal that left behind a legacy that warranted the very first biography to be written about a member of the United States Coast Guard. At the time of Sinbad’s service, between 1937 and 1948, military animals were considered property of the branch they served for; but Sinbad was one of only two at the time to be promoted to a non-commissioned officer, earning the rank of K9C, the canine equivalent of Chief Petty Officer. Sinbad had originally been an intended gift for a sailor’s girlfriend, but her apartment complex didn’t allow animals, and while no crewman on board wanted the dog, most wished for him to remain. So, to enlist the animal, it was stated he displayed attributes of a sailor by drinking coffee – and so Sinbad became a valuable member of the United States Coast Guard, assigned to damage control to avoid the sounds of gunfire. Sinbad survived his scraps with German submarines and passed away peacefully on December 30th, 1951.
Bobbie the Wonder Dog
We’ve heard many tales of man’s feats of crossing the country in many impressive manners, but there’s something a bit more telling when a lone dog can do it to find its way back home. In 1923, Bobbie, a two-year old Scotch Collie / English Shepherd mix, was separated from his family during a road trip to Indiana, and though the family sought long and hard, they returned home empty handed and saddened at their apparent loss. While the family mourned, the determined Bobbie wanted one thing – to be reunited with his loving family; and so Bobbie began his journey, a 2,551 mile or 4,100 kilometer trek across all manner of terrains to return to Silverton, Oregon. After 6 months, Bobbie found his way home, his body unsurprisingly worse for wear. Despite the ordeal he had gone through, the Collie Shepherd survived and even went on to play himself in the 1924 silent film “The Call of the West”. Bobbie died in 1927, 4 years after his epic trek, and has been memorialized ever since.
Rin Tin Tin
The German shepherd Rin Tin Tin is known for being a famous Hollywood dog, but the canine’s story begins long before his first film. Rin Tin Tin was amongst a litter of five puppies that was rescued by Corporal Lee Duncan during World War I. Once old enough, Duncan gave away three of the pups, keeping two – Rin Tin Tin and Nanette, named after French good luck charms. When he returned to the states, Rin Tin Tin’s life of fame began, competing in dog shows and eventually working his way into silent film. The German shepherd survived the worst of World War I and starred in dozens of movies and television shows before passing away in 1932. His legacy lives on, though, on the Hollywood Walk of Fame and a continued bloodline of service dogs.
Any psychology major is well acquainted with Pavlov’s Dogs, which were the subjects of Ivan Pavlov’s look into conditioning. During the 1890’s, Pavlov sought to explain the unconditioned responses of his dogs, who he noticed would salivate every time he entered the room, assuming their owner would be bringing them food. Pavlov played around with numerous stimuli, such as a bell and an assistant that the dogs would eventually associate with food and, therefor, salivate over. Thanks to his hungry canines, Pavlov eventually came up with the basic concept of classical conditioning, which lead to the formation of the school of Behaviorism. Unfortunately, during the Siege of Leningrad, the celebrity pups were eaten. Apparently nobody conditioned them to run at the first sign of a starving city.
Dogs and loyalty typically go hand in hand, but it’s often wondered just how loyal an animal can be. Hackiko, an Akita memorialized in the National Museum of Nature and Science in Tokyo, is arguably a true testimant of the extent of canine loyalty to their companions. During the 1920’s, Hachiko was purchased by professor Hidesamuro Ueno, and the two had what could be seen as an almost immediate bond. Hachiko would accompany Ueno every day to the train station, where he would sit and wait until the professor’s return. This went on for 5 years until the day Ueno died. Until 1935 when the pup finally passed away, Hachiko waited for his friend each day, performing the same routine, in speculative hopes of Ueno’s return. Was it a conditioned routine that Hachiko was reenacting each day, or was the lone pup really waiting for his owner? This story also ended up being the inspiration of a Futurama episode titled, “Jurassic Bark”, when Fry told his dog Seymour to stay put in front of Panucci’s Pizza until he returned. The ending sequences was of Seymour aging, still in the same spot, until he laid down, closed his eyes, and passed away.
Let’s get a truly sad and heartbreaking tale out of the way first! This is the story of a German Shepherd named Capitan who shows an immense loyalty between man and beast. In 2006, Capitan’s owner and best friend, Manuel Guzman, passed away, an event the dog took so difficult that it eventually ran away. When the surviving family members visited the grave of dear Guzman a week after his death, they found Capitan laying at the gravesite of his former owner. According to Guzman’s widow, the dog had never been taken to the cemetery prior, but for a period of over six years, the loyal companion makes it a point to be back at the gravesite at 6:00 in the evening to spend his night with his deceased owner.