Heroes to remember: 5 famous dogs in history
Updated: Jul 16
The best part of being a dog parent is the stories dogs weave into our lives. For these famous dogs in history, words might never do justice to the legacy they left behind. Here are some stories of iconic dogs who shaped the course of human lives around the world:
Balto – Braved harsh weather to stop an epidemic
L: Gunnar Kaasen with his pet husky Balto R: Statue of Balto at Central Park, New York City Source: Wikimedia Commons
Balto, a Siberian Husky, led the 1925 Serum run in Alaska. With all modes of transport suspended in the biting Alaskan winter, Balto and the sled dogs were the only hope for the people of Nome for transporting a serum. This was the only antidote that saved them from a deadly Diphtheria outbreak. Led by Gunnar Kaasen, the pack successfully completed the journey in pitch darkness and near whiteout conditions.
Hachiko – Loyally waited for his master until his dying day
L: Hachiko R: Grave of Hachiko and his master in Tokyo, Japan Source: Wikimedia Commons
Hachikō, a golden brown Akita, was adopted by Hidesaburo Ueno, a professor at the Tokyo Imperial University. Hachikō would greet him at the end of every day at Shiboya station. Sadly Ueno passed away from cerebral hemorrhage in 1925. Yet Hachikō continued to wait for Ueno for the next nine years, nine months and fifteen days, hoping for his guardian’s return. His undying loyalty makes Hachiko’s story one of the most famous dog stories of all time.
Smoky – Helped set up communications during World War II
L: Smoky R: Memorial for Smoky in Queensland, Australia Source: Wikipedia & Flickr
Smoky, a Yorkshire Terrier, was found abandoned in a foxhole in New Guinea by an American soldier. Her small size enabled soldiers set up communication lines during air raids in Luzon, Phillipines. Her intelligence saved over 300 lives during World War II, making her one of the most famous dogs in history. What makes this an amazing pet story is that Smoky was also a therapy dog, known for her comforting presence during trying times of war.
Laika – Paid the ultimate sacrifice for scientific research
L: Laika R: Laika depicted on a stamp in 1957 Source: Wikipedia & Wikimedia Commons
Laika, a mongrel from Russia, paved the way for humans to travel into outer space. In November 1957, she became the first dog to orbit the earth. She was selected as the sole occupant of Sputnik 2 to study the impact of space on earthly life forms. Sadly, she faced extremely challenging situations on her journey and never made it back.
Trakr – Risked his own life to find 9/11 survivors
L: Trakr R: Debris of World Trade Center on 9/11 Source: Wikipedia
Trakr, the brave German Shepherd, worked with the Halifax police since he was 14 months old. In the aftermath of 9/11 attacks, Trakr sniffed out the last survivor trapped under 30 feet of rubble. In his prime, he’s helped seize contraband worth a million dollars and put several criminals behind bars. Because of his valiance and determination to save human lives, he’s survived today by five clones.
There is so much to learn from man’s best friend. Stories of these famous dogs in history will forever be cherished for what they did for humanity.