Aren’t all dogs famous?! These days, a dog can rise to fame quickly thanks to Facebook, Instagram et al., but there were plenty of hero dogs that are still remembered today.
Here’s our list of famous dogs from history…
If you ever find yourself in Edinburgh, seek out the statue of Greyfriars Bobby at the junction of the George IV bridge. The Skye terrier became well-known in the 19th Century for supposedly spending fourteen years guarding the grave of his owner, night watchman John Gray. His owner had been buried in Greyfriars Kirkyard following his death – hence the dog’s name. Greyfriars Bobby died in 1872 and was buried just inside the churchyard. Two films based on his life have been made.
Lassie might have been a fictional character created by the writer Eric Knight, but the dog who played her in the first film, Lassie Come Home, was a Rough Collie called Pal. Pal’s trainer and owner, Rudd Weatherwax, obtained the rights to the name Lassie from MGM, and Pal and his descendants have played Lassie ever since. “Lassie” has appeared in radio, television, film, toys, comic books, animated series, novels, and other media.
You can’t pick your owner, can you? Blondi was the Alsatian owned by Adolf Hitler. She was given to Hitler as a puppy by Martin Bormann in 1941, and he was reportedly very fond of the dog, keeping her close to him most of the time. Hitler ordered his physician to kill her to test out if the cyanide capsules he’d received from Heinrich Himmler worked. He was reportedly distraught when they did…
Laika was the first animal in space – and the first animal to orbit the earth. She was a stray dog from Moscow, and she was put to work as part of the Soviet space programme. Because little was known about the impact of spaceflight on living creatures, animals were thought of as a necessary precursor to sending human beings into space. Poor Laika did not survive the mission. Russian officials unveiled a monument to her in 2008 – a dog standing on top of a rocket. She also appears on the Monument to the Conquerors of Space in Moscow.
Rin Tin Tin
Rin Tin Tin was another German Shepherd and film star. Rescued from a First World War battlefield by Lee Duncan, an American soldier who went on to train him, Rin Tin Tin appeared in 27 Hollywood films. His popularity contributed to the success of Warner Bros studios. He died in 1932. The dog breeder Daphne Hereford, who continued her mother’s work to keep the Rin Tin Tin bloodline, trademarked the name in 1993.