Monday, June 21, 2010
By Linda Cole
Every now and then, we run across amazing stories about dogs who did extraordinary things or had to overcome obstacles to complete their mission. Dogs who showed their loyalty to the owners they cherished and did what they had to do to be with them. Canines who stood out from the crowd because of who they were as dogs and because they taught us a little bit about life, love and devotion. These famous dogs touched our hearts, and their stories should be retold from time to time as a reminder of the bond between dogs and their owners.
Greyfriar's Bobby was a black Skye Terrier who was born in 1856 and lived in Scotland with his owner, John Gray. This famous dog was as devoted to his owner as any dog could be, and proved his loyalty in 1858 after John Gray passed away. Gray was buried in Edinburgh, Scotland in Greyfriar's Churchyard with few in attendance and no headstone. The groundskeeper at Greyfriar discovered Bobby sitting on his master's grave and drove him away, but the little dog kept returning. The groundskeeper finally gave up and provided shelter for Bobby next to Gray's grave. For fourteen years, Bobby guarded his master's grave only leaving for food. Each afternoon at one o'clock sharp, Bobby left the cemetery long enough to visit a nearby restaurant he and John Gray had frequented. People would wait at the entrance to the churchyard for Bobby to make his daily food run, and it's been said they could set their watch by him. Bobby died on January 14, 1872 and is buried just outside the churchyard only 75 feet from John Gray. A gravestone marks his resting place and on it is engraved, “Greyfriars Bobby-died 14th January 1872-aged 16 years-Let his loyalty and devotion be a lesson to us all.”
Hachiko, an Akita born November 10, 1923, lived in Japan with his owner, Hidesaburo Ueno, a professor in agriculture at the University of Tokyo. Every night, Hachiko would go to the nearby train station and wait for Ueno to return home. This famous dog knew exactly which train carried his master. One day, Ueno wasn't on the train; he had died at the university. Hachiko never gave up and returned each night to wait for his master's train for nine years, until his death on March 8, 1935. A former student of Professor Ueno heard of Hachiko's nightly vigil and became interested in the Akita breed. He discovered there were only 30 purebred Akitas in the entire country. His writings on Hachiko and the Akita dog breed spread across the country. The Akita became a national symbol of loyalty as the breed became more popular. Hachiko's loyalty was used as an example for children to follow, and his unmoving devotion inspired the people to strive for loyalty and devotion in their own families.
Bobbie the Wonder Dog was a Scotch Collie/English Shepherd mix. In 1923, Bobbie was with his family on vacation in Indiana when he got lost. Unfortunately, his home was in Silverton, Oregon. The family searched for Bobbie with no success and finally had to return home without him. Six months later, Bobbie was found sitting in front of his home, thin and with very sore paws. He had traveled 2,800 miles through the Midwest and plains states and crossed over mountains to reach his home during the peak of winter. He died in 1927 and was buried at Oregon's Humane Society's Pet Cemetery. Today, Bobbie is remembered in an annual children's pet parade in Silverton, as a reminder and tribute to all pets and the special connection we have with them and how much they enhance our lives.
Spike, a yellow Lab mix, is better known to us as Old Yeller. He's included in this group of famous dogs who touched our hearts because the story, which is based on a true story, taught us about loyalty, devotion and life. Old Yeller contracts rabies after being bitten by a rabid gray wolf and his fate is played out in a scene where a tearful Travis is faced with having to do what's most humane for his beloved pet.
Marley, the yellow Lab from the movie, “Marley and Me,” was born in 1991 and belonged to author John Grogan. Marley is described by Grogan as the world's worst dog, but you knew just how much he was loved by the entire Grogan family in spite of his misdeeds. He became a famous dog when Grogan started writing about life with Marley for his newspaper column. Marley's antics made us laugh and cry, and we could sympathize with the Grogan family as this mischievous pup kept them on their toes. Marley didn't take life too seriously and enjoyed every minute of it. He died in 2003.
Cats also have a special place in the hearts of those who love them. For the cat lovers who may have missed it, read Famous Felines Worth Remembering, a fun article about some extraordinary cats.
Read more articles by Linda Cole