Written by Ioana Busuioc, November 2018
We could all learn a little something from our canine companions, like the great Nora Roberts said: “Everything I know I learned from dogs”. But before learning something from our dogs, why not learn a little something about them?!
Dogs are aware of the passing of time! That means they miss you when you’re gone, and they know when it’s time to eat or go for a walk. They are intuitive enough to pick up up on our routines and habits. Dogs also have a very precise sense of hearing, and though they are born deaf, they grow to be able to detect a frequency range of 67 to 45,000 hertz; much like us however, their hearing can deteriorate. Dogs can also smell certain human states and feelings, for example nervousness through our perspiration, or even pregnancy! Their sense of smell overall can be up to 10 million times better than ours too, and depending on the breed, dogs have between 125 million to 300 million scent glands.
With how many dog breeds exist in the world (approximately 344), it’s no wonder that there are so many fun facts and quirks to many of them. For instance, the Newfoundland dog has a water resistant coat and webbed feet! Dalmatians are born white and develop their distinct spots as they age. The Basenji dog makes yodel-like noises in lieu of barks, making it a fun surprise to hear for the first time! As cute as Dachshunds are, they were actually originally bred to fight badgers. Sharp-Pei’s have a purple tinted tongue!
Most dog lovers will agree that dogs are cooler than people any day of any week, but here are some extra cool pups:
Bill Irwin was a blind medical technologist and corporate manager who traversed the 2100 mile long journey along the Appalachian trail. He was celebrated as an inspiration to hikers and disabled people when he became the first blind man to undertake such a feat. He could not have accomplished this without his trusty German Shepherd guide dog, Orient. The pair were lovingly referred to as “the Orient Express”.
Bretagne was “a whip-smart golden retriever with feathery fur and a sunny smile“, who had lived a life more full than most of us can say ever will. The adventure-loving pup, along with her owner Denise Corliss, had their first assignment together searching for survivors at Ground Zero after the 9/11 attacks. Later on, she participated in rescue efforts after Hurricanes Katrina and Ivan, and even even made an appearance at the Winter Olympic Games. After retiring, she began volunteering as a reading assistance dog at an elementary school.
Rin Tin Tin was another famous German Shepherd who starred in the film that is “often credited with bringing Warner Bros. back from bankruptcy”. He was rescued from a French battlefield by American soldier Lee Duncan, who brought him to the US and got him his role in “Where the North Begins”.
Hachiko was an Akita dog best known for his loyalty and dedication to his owner even after his death. He would meet his owner at Shibuya Station in Japan every day until his owner died of a cerebral hemorrhage; even after this, every day for nine years Hachiko would return to the station at the time his owner used to arrive at.
The first animal to orbit earth was a dog named Laika. She was a stray dog found on the streets of Moscow who was trained for the Soviet space program in 1957, eventually being selected as the occupant of Sputnik. A statue was erected in the pioneering pooch’s honor in 2008.
The evolution of dogs can be traced back to 50 million years ago, with many scientists believing the grey wolf or jackal are the dog’s ancestors. The Saluki, from Saluk, Yemen, is the earliest identifiable purebred dog; excavations have revealed carvings of dogs closely resembling the Saluki. The domestication of dogs began with prehistoric men who, having realized they had nothing to fear from the animals, started throwing them scraps of food. This led to the dogs feeling safe around the humans and developed a long lasting bond between the two. The Ancient Greeks are said to have developed lap dogs, and they were meant to keep a woman’s stomach warm. Bulldogs were bread originally with their large jaws and short noses so that they could “hang onto the throat of a bull and still be able to breathe”. Though Egyptians were famously known for revering cats, they also deeply respected dogs, burying faithful dogs alongside their owners. Henry III of France allegedly had such a fondness for dogs that he had amassed at least 2000 dogs spread across his palaces. Currently, Queen Elizabeth II is an avid dog lover, having owned 14 generations of corgis dating back 8 decades; she has owned more than 30 corgis, with many of them descending from her very first dog, Susan, who she had received as an 18th birthday present.
Some other pup aficionados? Alexander the Great had a beloved dog named Peritas, and when he died, Greek historian Plutarch wrote that Alexander founded an entire city and gave it his dog’s name. Fur real! Catherine the Great of Russia had a portrait of herself commissioned with her favorite Italian greyhound, Zemira. Leona Helmsley’s death meant that her beloved pooch Trouble inherited $2 million, not a ruff life at all! Cinema beauty Elizabeth Taylor once famously said that “some of [her] best leading men have been dogs and horses”; the actress treasured many dogs throughout her life, favoring Maltese terriers. Some famous Presidential doggo lovers include George Washington, who had 10 hounds, Calvin Coolidge, who owned at least 12 dogs during his lifetime, and Barack Obama, who owns Bo and Sunny, two Portuguese WaterDogs.
Lastly, to quote the author of the biggest tearjerker of all time, Marley & Me: “Such short little lives our pets have to spend with us, and they spend most of it waiting for us to come home each day” – John Grogan
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