Most owners would agree that their dog is a ride-or-die partner, one that would stick by them through anything. For the last 10,000 years, canine companions have been embedded in human societies. And according to archaeological findings, domesticated dogs have evolved alongside us through our rapidly changing world for the past 30,000 years. The most famous dogs have not only captured our hearts but have also earned a place in history through feats of bravery, undying loyalty, or undeniable adorability.
The ancient Greeks cherished their canine companions, depicting their pets' images on ceramics and throughout their literature. The importance of this human/dog relationship shows up in the heartbreaking story of Odysseus. Argos, his beloved pet, waited for 20 years for their master to return from the Trojan War. When Odysseus finally reaches his home in Ithaca, he is unrecognizable to everyone except Argos. The dog rises to meet him, but the hero, fighting back his tears, turns away from his faithful dog to stay incognito. Sadly, Argos whimpers then lays down and dies at that moment.
The first canine movie star, Rin Tin Tin, was a rescue dog. An American army corporal discovered the German shepherd, along with their starving mother and four littermates, in a bomb-damaged kennel in France during World War I. The soldier kept a male named Rin Tin Tin and a female he called Nanette and found homes with fellow soldiers for the others. Nanette died soon after they returned to the U.S. But by 1922, Rin Tin Tin had earned a spot in their first movie. They went on to star in 30 films, gaining worldwide fame.
Another pooch that earned international fame on the silver screen, Toto, was the lovable companion of Dorothy in the movie, The Wizard of Oz in 1939. The adorable Cairn terrier, named Terry, starred in other movies, too, although the Oz film was the pup's only credited role out of 23 film appearances. The frisky canine star died in 1945, but their gravesite was lost during construction of a freeway in 1958. In 2010, fans raised funds to erect a permanent memorial for Toto, which sits in the Hollywood Forever Cemetery in Los Angeles.
In 2004, the Guinness Book of World Records recognized Gibson the Great Dane as the tallest dog in the world, but this sweet canine was so much more. The Harlequin-coated giant stood 42.2 inches tall and weighed 180 pounds. In addition to earning the title of tallest dog, Gibson was a certified therapy dog. They also made several television and magazine appearances. One of Gibson's beloved talents was to "speak" the words, "I love you."
Time magazine named this beautiful Afghan hound "Invention of the Year" in 2005. The unusual distinction came about because Snuppy was the very first successful dog clone. Produced through the efforts of a South Korean university research team, the pup clone project turned out to be extremely difficult, and its success became a major feat in international scientific circles. Even after staffing changes, Snuppy stayed at the university, became the campus mascot, and fathered a litter of puppies in 2008.
The human brain fascinated Sigmund Freud, but he was also crazy about dogs, especially Chow Chows. Although he owned several dogs, his beloved female companion, Jofi, became a favorite. Freud believed that Jofi could read human behavior and used them to help him gauge the psychological state of his patients. Jofi also learned to determine the length of the sessions, heading to the office door when it was time for the 50-minute consultations to end.
Few dogs get a city named after them, but Alexander the Great really loved his guardian dog, Peritas, and did just that. According to one story, Alexander became stuck behind enemy lines, trying to fight his way out of the situation. Leonnatus, one of Alexander's officers, heard Peritas whining and sent him out to find Alexander. The determined canine not only found his companion, but they also attacked enemy soldiers to protect him. Peritas was injured in the battle and died in Alexander's lap.
A brave St. Bernard, named Barry, made their way into history after saving the lives of 40 people throughout their 12 years of life. They were born in a 1000-year old monastery called the Great St. Bernard Hospice, a shelter for those who traveled the treacherous, snow-packed pass that connects Switzerland to the northern tip of Italy. The monks raised St. Bernard dogs specifically for rescue purposes, but Barry was a stand-out due to their determination, loyalty, and innate ability to track the lost.
The first K-9 to respond at Ground Zero on 9/11, Appollo was a nine-year-old German shepherd that worked with the New York Police Department's Special Operations Division. On the day they were to receive the 2001 ACE Award for Canine Excellence in Law Enforcement, two passenger planes crashed into the World Trade Center. Appollo and their handler, Officer Peter Davis, arrived on the scene 15 minutes later and started to comb through the rubble, looking for survivors. They searched 18 hours a day for several days. Despite their singed fur and paw injuries, Appollo refused to stop searching until their handler physically pulled them from the debris.
Earning the title of the Most Popular Dog in the World in 2015, Jiff Pom, a pomeranian, first became famous on Instagram. Today, this charming little ball of fluff has more than 33 million followers across social media platforms. Their famous images appear across pop culture, including in Katy Perry's Dark Horse video. Jiffpom makes red carpet appearances and even has their own line of emojis, "Jiffmojis."
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