There have always been dogs that have set themselves apart from the pack. The following little stories from history are about such dogs and are guaranteed to melt your heart.
LAZARUS AND BUMMER
Bummer and Lazarus were strays who had the run of San Francisco in the 1860s. Bummer was a tough one, begging people for scraps, hence his name. One day another stray arrived in San Francisco and got into a fight with another dog. Witnesses were sure he would be torn to shreds, but Bummer came running in to save him and nurse him back to health. You can guess how this new stray got the name Lazarus.
The people loved them because of their close friendship. They became celebrities. The newspapers reported their exploits as if they were Prince Harry and Megan Markle. If they got into a scrap with other dogs, the papers would print an exaggerated version together with eyewitness testimony, usually including a dramatized cartoon of the event. Mark Twain even wrote about them.
Bummer got shot in the leg, and because Lazarus didn’t look after him, the city was in an uproar, turning against Lazarus.
The fascination created by the press continued until both dogs died.
BARRY THE RESCUE DOG
St. Bernards were bred for search and rescue. There is a dangerous, snowy pass between Italy and Switzerland named Saint Bernard Pass. Monks there bred these dogs as far back as 1695 to rescue travelers.
They worked in pairs. When a victim was found, one dog would dig them out of the snow and sit on them to provide warmth while the other dog went back to the monastery for help.
A small child who had become lost and trapped on a treacherous ice shelf became Barry’s most famous rescue. Somehow, this St. Bernard reached the boy, revived him and kept him warm. But even when rescue arrived, nobody could get to them. So, they instructed the child to climb onto Barry’s back, and Barry pulled him to safety, inch by inch.
In the early 1800s, over the course of about 12 years, Barry is credited with saving 40 people’s lives. He was an extraordinarily effective rescue dog. Since his death there has been a tradition at the monastery that is ongoing even today, always to have one dog named Barry.
In the 1930s, a black retriever named Swansea Jack lived with his owner near a river in Wales. One day, a small boy was drowning in that river, and Jack jumped in and pulled him to shore by the scruff of his neck. Then, a few weeks later, Jack rescued another swimmer in trouble. It was reported that during the next ten years, Jack was responsible for saving at least twenty-seven people from that river.
During his life, Swansea council presented Jack with a silver collar, a silver cup from the Mayor of London, the Bravest Dog of the Year Award and his very own statue.
Rolf — a scam or the smartest dog in history. During World War II, one of the many hair-brained schemes of the Nazis was their attempt to train an army of super-intelligent dogs. The smartest was Rolf.
As the story goes, Rolf could talk by using a special code and tapping his paw against a board to communicate with humans. It is said that he appreciated poetry, expressed pride in the Nazi regime, vented his hatred of the French and even expressed his interest in joining the war and his desire to fight.
Hard to believe, but Hitler did.
Bob was born in 1882 in South Australia. He was a stray who followed railway workers until he was caught by a dogcatcher. Fortunately for Bob, a station guard had taken a liking to him and bought him. He rode the train with his new master every day until his master was promoted and they had to part ways.
Now, what was Bob supposed to do? Well, he started jumping trains all by himself and traveled all over Southern Australia and soon became a familiar and welcome train traveler.
Occasionally, he would choose an empty carriage, barking to scare away any passengers who tried to sit in it. Guards and station masters knew him and left him to do as he pleased.
Looking for a warm meal and a soft bed, he would follow the engine driver home each night, returning to the train the next morning.
As time passed his fame grew as did his reception when he came into a town. He was often the guest of honor at a banquet. He was given a bracelet that included his name and instructing anyone who read it to let him go where he wanted. Children would run after him as if he were a Prince.
He died the most famous dog in Australian history.
The ship’s captain brought a Saint Bernard named Bamse aboard his Norwegian minesweeper during World War II. He won the hearts of the entire crew, so when the captain was leaving the ship for another posting, the crew threatened to leave the ship if the captain took Bamse with him.
The ship was stationed in Scotland, and Bamse became a legend there. He would make sure that sailors who had too much to drink would make it back to their posts; would stop bar fight; saved a crewman under attack by a man with a knife by running full force into him and dragging him into the water; and dove into the water to drag a crewman who had fallen overboard to safety. He had a special bus pass tied around his neck allowing him to ride buses alone.
Bamse also didn’t allow his sailors to fight. He would stand on his back legs with his front paws on their shoulders to stop a fight.
At Christmas, the crew would dress him in a little sailor’s hat and take pictures for Christmas cards to send back home to Norway.
PICKLES THE COLLIE
The World Cup was a big deal to the English, especially in 1966 when it was to be held in England. Increasing the excitement, they expected to win (which they did). But just four months before the matches were to begin; the World Cup was stolen. To avoid international embarrassment, they just had to find the cup.
One day a collie named Pickles was out for a walk with his owner when he sniffed something in the bushes, and there it was – the cup everyone was looking for.
Pickles found himself in the spotlight. He was famous and being touted by the press as the hero who saved England from international embarrassment. They held a banquet in his honor and he was given a bone and a cheque for £1,000. Pickles later starred in movies and several TV shows.
ITALY’S MOST LOYAL DOG
Many dogs have stood vigil for their dead masters, such as Japan’s Hachiko and Scotland’s Greyfriars Bobby. But the one who was famous even during his lifetime was Italy’s Fido, born during World War II.
Fido was on the verge of death when he was found by a kiln worker. He took him home and nursed him back to health.
Fido was so grateful that he would wait for his master at the bus stop every day for the rest of his life. He wouldn’t move until his master got off the bus even though Italy was being bombed almost every day.
One day, Fido’s master wasn’t on the bus. He had been killed at work during an air raid. Every day for fourteen years, Fido returned to that bus stop waiting for his master.
His tale was known all across Italy, and Fido was in the midst of media attention both during the war and long after. Huge crowds would gather to watch him walk to the bus stop every day, watch all the passengers who got off and then walk away disappointed. He received medals and honors, but all he wanted was his friend to get off that bus.