Any dog owner knows that dogs are capable of doing some truly remarkable things. We have been living with them and making them a significant part of our lives for so long, it shouldn’t surprise anyone that history is littered with amazing and influential dogs. Some are famous for the impact they made on society, while others are famous for the extraordinary and sometimes tragic things that happened to them. And then there are those which take an honorary place in history for their incredible heroics. This list is filled with such dogs and their stories. While this list is filled with great dogs, it only scratches the surface of the many dogs that changed the world in some way or another. That fact is a testament to what incredibly remarkable animals dogs can be.
Laika achieved something few humans can only imagine: going to space. Laika was a stray dog, living on the streets of Moscow, when she was selected to be a part of a test mission outside the earth’s atmosphere in 1957. She made it into outer space and her space craft, Sputnik 2, orbited the earth. Laika was the first dog in space and got there before any human as this was a time when humans were only starting to gain an understanding of how a person can travel into outer space.
Unfortunately, Laika and her spacecraft were never meant to return to earth. She died on the mission and this led to significant controversy and debate over how animals should be treated in terms of scientific testing. Even some of the scientists involved in the mission expressed regret that Laika did not survive and that things should have been done differently. We can at least take comfort in the fact that future missions were designed to be recovered and Laika has been immortalized through a statue erected in 2008.
Philly, a mut, can be considered among the most famous hero dogs of World War I. She began her career as a mascot for Company A of the 315th infantry but was then brought to France where the unit was being deployed. Here, she served as a guard dog for the allies. Despite being gassed and injured in battle, her guard dog skills never waned, to the extent that the Germans even put a price on her head.
Here are some other war hero dogs for your reading pleasure.:
Susie may be the only dog on this list who is directly responsible for the passing of legislation. This part pitbull of North Carolina’s story began in 2009 when she was set on fire by her owner’s boyfriend. Susie suffered 2nd and 3rd degree burns as a result of this horrible instance of animal abuse. This probably makes you incredibly sad, but this story has a happy ending. After the perpetrator of this unspeakable act received probation for his crime, a huge public outcry took place, and massive amounts of people wrote their state representatives asking for tougher legislation in cases of animal cruelty. This caused the passing of Susie’s Law, which upgrades charges of animal abuse to a felony and allows judges to sentence offenders to jail time.
Susie is now a certified therapy dog, who appears at schools and hospitals to teach kindness and respect. In the years since her horrible ordeal, she has gone on to make lives of dogs better as well as those of the humans she visits.
Just as Philly is arguably the most famous dog of WWI. Smoky, a Yorkie, can be considered the most famous dog of WWII. Smoky mysteriously appeared, fully grown, in the jungle of New Guinea with no indication that she was owned by the Japanese or the Americans when she was found by an American soldier. She was adopted by Corporal William Wynne, with whom she enjoyed a long and eventful military career. Throughout this time, she embarked on 12 combat missions and was awarded with eight battle stars. She served by warning Wynne of incoming shells, and learning many tricks, which entertained the troops. She was also famously instrumental in building an airbase, where she ran wire through small pipes which would have taken thousands more man hours for humans to accomplish, thereby keeping them out of harm’s way.
After the war, Smoky became an American celebrity, appearing on some of the US’s first TV shows to do tricks like blindfolded tightrope walking. Her body now rests beneath a statue erected in her honor and in honor of all war dogs, in Ohio.
5. Rin Tin Tin
Rin Tin Tin, a German Shepherd, began his career as a movie star in the 1920s and was among the first canine Hollywood celebrities. Rin Tin Tin’s status as an international superstar of the time cannot be understated. He appeared in 27 silent films throughout his career and is credited, in part, with making Warner Bros. studios the successful company it is today. Because of the ease with which silent films could be localized to different languages, Rin Tin Tin gained popularity all over the world. Rin Tin Tin is also largely responsible for the popularization of German Shepherds as pets in the United States. Rin Tin Tin’s death was met with national mourning. Obituaries were published in newspapers across the nation, and regular programming was interrupted about news of the event.