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BY JESSICA PAIRRETT, COPY EDITOR

Who among us doesn’t think our precious pups are smart? Well, okay, maybe not all of us do. While our dogs are smart in their own ways, not every pooch out there is born to earn an A on every task he or she is asked to do. But some dogs are simply smarter, right?

There’s no cut-and-dry answer to that. In looking at a dog’s intellect, we need to take a step back and consider just how is a dog’s intelligence determined. Is it by the number of tricks he does or the number of words he knows? What about if your dog is savvy out on the agility course? That’s not a feat all dogs are built to master. Then there are dog breeds we may consider highly intelligent war heroes, those who put their lives on the line and display bravery as they sniff out dangerous battlefields. And we cannot forget to include how well dogs can pick up on our emotions, often referred to in the human workplace as emotional intelligence. Let’s take a look at how dogs have varying degrees of intellectual and emotional intelligence.

Intelligence by Breed

So who is the expert on this issue? One of the places we often turn to is the American Kennel Club (AKC). As one of the authorities on all things dog, would it surprise you to learn that the AKC currently does not have a list of so-called smart breeds? Wisely, the AKC takes the stance that dogs are individuals, and to answer the intelligence question, we need to look at breeds and how they are classified. For example, working breeds have instincts and natural abilities that allow them to quickly perform jobs while other breeds are highly driven to please their people.

In short, the AKC views a dog’s intelligence based on breed, training and natural traits. Clear as mud, right? We can thankfully refer to the work of famed canine psychologist Stanley Coren, who had once educated us about different types of intelligence (see sidebar). He has provided us with one metric—working intelligence—with which to compare our dog’s smarts to others.

In Coren’s book “The Intelligence of Dogs,” he took a dive into the working intelligence of dog breeds. His research included lengthy surveys from about 200 dog obedience judges. Numerous breeds were rated on how well they obeyed commands and how quickly they learned new tricks. Those deemed the brightest breeds were the dogs that could obey a command 95 percent of the time and learn a command in five or fewer tries. And then, ta-da! The 10 reportedly smartest dog breeds list was born.

Top 10 in Working Intelligence

1) Border Collie: The quintessential agility dog, Border Collies are full of energy and smarts. Also recognized as a herding dog, this breed is a true workaholic and an athlete who also loves to cuddle with its people.

You might be familiar with the famous Chaser, a Border Collie who knew more than 1,000 words. Chaser’s person, John Pilley, trained her to learn and retain words much greater than “ball” and “toy,” said Karen B. London, PhD, a certified applied animal behaviorist and certified professional dog trainer. Chaser could even distinguish between nouns and verbs! Pilley remained modest about Chaser’s depth of knowledge, though. He maintained that other dogs could also learn just as Chaser did, that is, as long as other dogs were taught like Chaser: sometimes many hours a day and in a methodical and extensive manner that also included fun and play.

2) Poodle: How does this froufrou dog come in at second place? It’s easy! The Poodle (all breed sizes) is a friendly, active breed with a reputation as one of the most trainable out there. Regular exercising and training are musts to keep their extremely intelligent brains busy and out of any sassy behaviors. For these reasons, Poodles also make great hunting buddies helping you track and retrieve.

3) German Shepherd: All hail the police (and military) hero! The list of these brave dogs in history is long. With a strong work ethic, they require a job to do so they can burn off energy. This is a loyal friend of the family and a wonderful guard dog. Their affection and intellect also serves them well in roles as guide dogs or in other forms of service to their humans.

4) Golden Retriever: The sweet, lovable Golden can have impeccable manners with help from your obedience training and socialization with other pups and people. Goldens love to be active, whether it’s swimming, running, fetching, hunting or hiking with his family. You’ve likely heard of Goldens doing search-and-rescue or other service work.

5) Doberman Pinscher: Hailing from Germany, these brave dogs are proven guards. But their working intelligence also makes them ideal therapy, rescue, military and police dogs. The Dobie’s strength, speed and endurance has also led to their solid reputation as protectors.

6) Shetland Sheepdog: Having intelligence with a sense of humor, Shelties have an abundance of energy that’s made for a long history of herding and keeping watch over its flock and family. They also are very affectionate and playful, enjoying playtime with children and learning new tricks.

7) Labrador Retriever: There’s a reason Labs have topped the list of lovable dogs. If you have one in your home, you know their affectionate, playful natures are top Lab qualities. The breed is also an active one that makes for a great running companion. Being gentle, people-pleasing and easy to train also make the breed ideal for search and rescue and other service work.

8) Papillon: The smallest breed on the list is the butterfly dog, nicknamed for their unique ear shape. These intelligent dogs are as beautiful as they are happy and friendly. While small in stature, the Papillon is fast and quite the little athlete up for whatever training you’re ready to offer.

9) Rottweiler: Solidly built, Rotties have made excellent working dogs since their Germany origins. This herding breed also falls into the military and police dog bucket. Rotties, devoted companions that they are, are great service and therapy dogs. And they take on the obedience circuit, too!

10) Australian Cattle Dog: This working dog of Blue Heeler origin is full of energy—physical and mental! ACD parents should have energy to expend as this breed needs to work, whether it’s in agility, herding, tracking or general obedience.

So, there you have it: the top 10 smartest breeds as measured by working intelligence. But don’t forget: Breed isn’t the only factor influencing intelligence. You also have to consider their personality traits and the amount and type of training you’ve done together.

My Dog Didn’t Make the List!

Worried your dog’s smarts might not be up to par? Don’t be! First, remember that this data was gathered from obedience judges, which could have been subjective. Ever had a bad experience with a certain breed of dog? Think of your bias (good or bad) around that particular breed, and recognize that is your opinion. And that’s perfectly okay!

But if you want to bond with your dog while upping their working intelligence, Petfinder.com offers some great tips.

First, remember that all dogs are trainable. Find what motivates him and watch him excel. Second, make sure to use positive reinforcements whether that includes food, lots of pets, a short game of fetch, bubbles to pop or another activity that is super motivating.

Build your dog’s intelligence through interactive games, sports and agility, food puzzles or snuffle mats. Remember that motivation works wonders. Remember that smarter breeds require more of something (stimulation, activity or attention) that keeps their minds sharp and their bodies physically active, according to Petfinder.com. Bond through regular walks, other exercise and play sessions and behavior training.

Finally, make sure that no matter what you do, get up and interact with your dog. Just as a child learns and grows as their mom or dad spends quality time with them, so dogs do with you. And besides, do you really need a specific reason to spend time with your furry companions?

Intelligence in Many Forms

We’ve talked a lot about a dog’s working intelligence. But what if one of these dog breeds isn’t for you? Remember that all dogs are individuals and there are so many kinds of intelligence that can be paired with your dog’s style. Find the one that best suits her or him. After all, the best kind of dog is the one perfectly fitting for your lifestyle.

I remember how I once compared my now-senior dog’s intelligence to that of his prior packmate’s. Buddy was a rule-breaker, not a rule-follower, and truly would not have ranked high on working intelligence. Lucky, however, ranks way up there in interpersonal intelligence. His communication skills often amaze me, including his many appropriately timed sighs (huffs)—even when I don’t think he’s listening! Lucky’s other pack member, Taco, ranks up there in adaptive intelligence. He’s a sneaky one for sure!

No matter the breed of dog we keep, we should all take the time to figure out our dog’s true intellect. Find out what makes your dog happy and feed that. Let them explore their interests, said London. And as Pilley believed, you’ll find better communication—and happiness—with your dog because of it.

What do you think? What type of intelligence does your dog show?
Are we missing a type of intelligence your dog displays?
Let us know at our Facebook page!

BY CHERESE COBB, FREELANCER

Your cat is clever, perhaps even crafty, but how smart is she? According to scientists, it’s not your imagination. While your dog might have a higher social IQ than your cat, she can solve harder cognitive problems, if she feels like it.

Her brain is only 2 inches long, weighs as much as a pair of dice and makes up about 0.9 percent of her body mass. While it’s smaller than your dog’s, its structure and surface folding is 90 percent like yours. Your cerebral cortex, the region of your brain that controls thinking and problem-solving, contains 21 to 26 billion neurons or nerve cells. Your cat has 300 million neurons while your dog only has 160 million.

Basically, your cat is as smart as an 18-month-old child. She can experience primary emotions such as happiness, anger and fear. “We don’t think cats can experience secondary emotions like forgiveness or vengeance,” says Dr. Susan Krebsbach, owner of Creature Counseling in Oregon, Wis. “How many times have you heard, ‘He urinated outside of the litter box because he was mad at me because I was gone for the weekend?’”

While your cat can’t appreciate all the colors you do, she has more nerve cells in the visual areas of her brain than humans and most other mammals. That’s why she zooms across the house chasing a speck of dust that you can’t even see.

But her world isn’t black and white. “Because cats are more active in the early morning and the late evening when light levels are low, their retinas contain eight times more rods than humans,” Krebsbach says. “So cats are more sensitive to light in the blue-violet and yellow-green range.”

Besides having top-notch vision, your cat has object permanence, an understanding that things exist even when she can’t see, hear, touch or smell them. That is, out of sight doesn’t mean out of mind.

Her short-term memory spans about 16 hours. In a laboratory setting (mad scientist optional), she can probably solve food puzzles from memory. But Rubik’s cubes or sudoku are out of the question. While her long-term memory is difficult to gauge, it’s probably impeccable, which you already know if your fur baby bops you in the head at 6 a.m. She has an internal clock and seems to “know” when it’s time for things to start happening. She’s good at picking up on other regular indicators of the time, like bird songs and sunset. No, she can’t read clocks. Change the time on them to see if it makes any difference. It won’t.

If cats are so smart, why aren’t there any drug, cadaver or explosives detective cats? “Well, remember, cats have a different skill set, but that doesn’t make them less intelligent. As a matter of fact, we don’t have any bomb-sniffing humans.” Krebsbach says. Dogs come when they’re called, but cats take a message and get back to you later.

Puzzle Toys
“During the daytime, cats are loving members of our families with scratches behind the ear and sleepy moments on our laps,” says Frederik Lindskov, product developer at Northmate. “During the night, however, their instincts tell them to go hunting for mice…around the neighborhood. The greatest challenge for any cat owner is to make a home that reflects both sides of this double nature.” Enter puzzle toys. They ease boredom, encourage mental stimulation and reduce destructive behaviors. Here are three of our favorites:

1. Northmate Catch Interactive Feeder
Designed to kickstart your kitty’s hunting instincts, Catch by Northmate controls portion size, slows eating and prevents vomiting. Dishwasher safe and suitable for indoor and outdoor use, this specialized bowl is made of hard, phthalate-free plastic and has four anti-slip feet. Scatter wet or dry food across the feeder. Then your cat can push or grab it out from between its smoothly rounded spikes.

2. Nina Ottosson Melon Madness Puzzle & Play
Your curious cat will love Nina Ottosson’s Melon Madness Puzzle & Play. Cats bat at the pegs and swivel the seeds to uncover six hidden treat compartments that hold up to a quarter cup of food. Each puzzle is made from food-safe materials and comes with a tips and tricks info sheet. With no removable parts, you’ll also never have to worry about losing play pieces again.

3. Trixie 5-in-1 Cat Activity Center
Engage your smarty cat’s five senses with Trixie’s Activity Fun Board. Developed by cat expert Helena Dbalý, it has four transparent globes that can be filled with food for your cat to fish out. Its peg and alley centers allow her to MacGyver kibble around non-pointy pins and wavy walls. Its tongue center is best for liquid treats and has slits that prevent your cat from using her paws. Last but not least, its tunnel center is ideal for stalking and swatting hidden toys and treats.

BY CHERESE COBB, FREELANCER

Seven years ago, Rudy—an emaciated Arabian horse trapped in knee-high manure—popped up on Chelsea Harley’s Facebook feed. His owner had already surrendered 60 horses to Shawano County authorities (all shipped to slaughter) before threatening to shoot him if Amazing Grace Equine Rescue (AGES) in Elkhart Lake, Wis., didn’t remove him immediately.

Harley shook when she read he’d been down for several hours and staff couldn’t get him up. So she dumped materials for a sling into her bag and drove nonstop from Chicago, Ill. Every weekend for a month, Harley slept in the barn with Rudy while offering massages to 12 other horses. After being hired by AGES founder Erin Kelley-Groth, she spent 40 hours a week rehabbing Rudy while caring for her two blind horses, two special needs dogs and a young cat with chronic kidney disease.

For the first few weeks, the sorrel stallion was in a sling. Each time she removed it, Rudy collapsed and it’d take a skid-steer and six people to get him back up. “During his recovery, we learned to be mindful of flying hooves and teeth. Several of us have scars and broken bones as a result of his desperate need to protect himself,” she says.

“Many of our horses also have some kind of lameness, and that can be challenging when we want to get them adopted.” For example, Grayce was pulled from a kill pen in Oklahoma. and had a miscarriage in quarantine. She has cartilage and bone fragments floating around in her joints causing her to throw her body around.

Grayce receives daily anti-inflammatories and herbal supplements like Devil’s Claw, Yucca or Boswellia. But she can’t handle a higher workload. “I encourage people not to ask, ‘What can that horse do for me?’ Be open-minded to meeting senior or special needs horses,” Harley says.

“You can still have a wonderful relationship while doing groundwork lessons and providing a forever home.”

BY CHERESE COBB, FREELANCER

Flashy on the outside and a gentleman on the inside, Acado is a 13-year-old Hanoverian. “He’s one of the most handsome horses in the barn,” says Jenny Caldwell, assistant trainer. “When he walks into a different environment, he puts his head up and looks around, but he’s never spooked.” The Show Hunter isn’t just a Steady Eddie; he’s a class act.

History
Hanoverians are one of the oldest warmbloods. They come from destriers: hot-blooded horses who carried fully armored knights into battles, tournaments and jousts. In the 1600s, they were imported into north-central Germany. They worked as cavalry remounts and harness horses.

King George II of England was the first person to breed Hanoverians. In 1735, he founded the Stallion Depot in Celle, Lower Saxony. He used Black Holsteins as a foundation stock. They’re powerful coach horses produced by crossing German mares with Neapolitan, Spanish and Oriental blood.

Modern Hanoverians were used in British royal processions until the reign of Edward VIII when they were replaced by Windsor Greys. At the end of WWII, the breed was mixed with Thoroughbreds and Trakehner. They became increasingly light, agile, athletic and graceful.

Health
Hanoverians may suffer from osteochondritis dissecans (OCD). It’s caused by poor nutrition, physical trauma and rapid growth. OCD creates lesions that encourage fluid buildup, small fractures or cartilage destruction. Twenty-five percent of the time, OCD is found in the fetlocks. Ten percent of Hanoverians get OCD in their hock joints.

With a digestive system that’s similar to rabbits and rats, horses can’t vomit or burp (what goes in must take the long way out). “If a horse gets a belly ache [or colic], its stomach can twist on itself,” Caldwell says. The second leading cause of death in horses, colic is caused by a change of diet, a lack of roughage or parasites. Its symptoms include pawing, restlessness, rapid breathing or violent rolling.

“Acado is treated like an Olympic athlete,” says rider Brooke Brodersen. He has his own masseuse, chiropractor and indoor treadmill. He takes a daily electrolyte, joint supplement and probiotic. Because Acado’s teeth continually grow and are worn down by chewing feed, he gets his teeth floated or filed down twice per year. He also eats high-quality hay and snacks on carrots, apples and, occasionally, licorice jelly beans.

Hunters & Jumpers
Show hunter Acado wears aluminum shoes on his front hooves and steel shoes on his backs. His mane and tail are braided, and his tack is a simple snaffle bit and traditional bridle. Brodersen wears a black helmet, black gloves, tan breeches, black field boots, a white show shirt and a dark-colored hunt coat.

In the ring, Hunters like Acado jump over eight to 12 fences that are conservative and natural, including colors like white, brown and green. “The judges are really looking for a perfect flow without bobbles,” Brodersen says. They’re looking for horses that are well-mannered, athletic and attractive to ride safely and smoothly over the obstacles.

“It looks kind of like we’re going around the ring automatically, but every single step requires communication between the horse and rider,” Brodersen says. “If you’re not paying attention, steps can get stretched out, and you can’t make the distance of the jump.”

Jumpers ride over technically difficult courses that twist and turn. Fences are bright, colorful and lofty. Jumpers’ manes and tails aren’t braided. Saddle pads and ear bonnets are allowed. If horses knock down a fence, stop at a fence or don’t complete the course in a certain time limit, they incur “faults” or penalties. The horse with the fewest faults and the fastest time wins.

BY CHERESE COBB, FREELANCER

For four years, Department of State (DOS) Agent Paddy worked as an Explosive Ordnance Division Technician at the U.S. Embassy in Kabul, Afghanistan. When Danny Scheurer and the rest of his unit went to clear a building, he leaped from an SUV and dashed to the door. “We tried to run,” Danny remembers. “But the guys in the back — because they didn’t have radio silence or a [military] dog—breached the building. It blew up.”

While serving their country, both Danny and Paddy were injured. Danny was given a 70 percent disability rating. “I received VA medical care, options for schooling, paid training for employment and multiple other perks for serving my country.” However, Paddy was labeled unsuitable for typical retirement. Because of former aggression, he was slated to be put down.

“How’s that for a soldier who serves?” Danny says. Dogs have been officially serving as four-legged soldiers in the U.S. military since World War I (1914-1918). Approximately 5,000 military working dogs (MWDs) served in the Vietnam War. They saved nearly 10,000 human lives. (The U.S. Army didn’t keep records before 1968). MWDs also took part in the takedown of Taliban leader Osama bin Laden and ISIS leader Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi.

There are around 2,500 MWDs in service today and 700 deployed overseas. “Imagine hearing both stories, while not aware that Paddy is a canine,” he says. “Most people’s reaction would be anger, concern or consternation regarding a veteran being denied retirement due to atypical retirement qualifications.”

That’s where Save-A-Vet in Lindenhurst, Ill., comes in. Danny started the nonprofit to rescue canines that aren’t adoptable because of their attack training, field experiences or physical and mental injuries—including post-traumatic stress disorder and traumatic brain injuries that may cause dogs to barely blink or eat.

“Unlike a lot of agencies, the DOS truly cares about their K9s and reached out to Save-A-Vet asking us to take him [Paddy] into our program,” Danny says. “I’m very happy they did this as he’s now one of our most loveable K9s and the new mascot of the organization.”

The English Springer Spaniel loves all animals and people. He usually can be found claiming all of the office couches or stuffing tennis balls under their cushions. “He’s got about 150 balls everywhere. He constantly has one in his mouth,” Danny says.

“We don’t have a normal shelter because we don’t foster.” Instead, Save-A-Vet puts K9s in secured facilities throughout the country. It also hires disabled military or law enforcement officers to care for its dogs in exchange for rent-free housing. They’re randomly drug tested. “They must be able to pass a background check and either be employed or attending school full-time with a minimum of a B average,” Danny says. “It’s not a free handout. You wake up at 6 a.m. and take care of my dog. If it’s not being fed at 6 a.m., you’re fired.”

Save-A-Vet is a place of mutual healing between two-legged and four-legged veterans. Ornella, for example, was retired from Homeland Security’s U.S. Customs and Border Protection Agency (CBP) because she started eating her own tail. “When we fixed her, it was allergies. The veterinarian figured out that she probably had gotten into drugs.”

Her sharp nose served our country’s borders for two years. Her handler CBP Officer Shawn Johnson says, “She possesses those qualities and energies that make a successful drug detector dog a smuggler’s worst fear.” In 2014, she suffered a fatal heart attack. “The veterinarians tried CPR, but she wasn’t able to pull through,” Danny says. “Although Ornella has passed, we’re happy to have given her what I can only imagine have been the best two years of her life.”

Public donations and Made in America companies such as Basecamp and the Travel & Adventure Show power Save-A-Vet, which cost nearly $81,000 to run last year, even with seven unpaid, full-time staffers. “When we put out that we need volunteers, we typically have a couple hundred people show up,” Danny says. “We have volunteers all over the country.”

Save-A-Vet doesn’t take dogs from civilians or rehome their K9s. (Lackland Air Force Base in San Antonio, Texas, handles all MWDs adoptions.) “With Save-A-Vet’s leadership, military canines became veterans after decades of being categorized as equipment,” says Randi Scheurer who is Danny’s father and the nonprofit’s photographer.

Nero is a former Navy bomb dog. He had two discs in his back fused together and a golf ball-sized lump removed from his jaw, but he was never caged. Firemen, cops and construction workers would drop by his house every morning to bring him bacon. “He was Danny’s constant companion until the end,” Randi says. During Nero’s final days, Danny laid with him in the back of a van—wrapping his arms tightly around him, making another forgotten soldier’s “golden years” golden.

For more information, visit saveavet.org or call 815-349-9647.

BY CHERESE COBB, FREELANCER

Pepper was black, short and chunky. The one-year-old Shar-Pei looked like a baby hippo. She had mange and infected ears. Chained outside in the heat, she stunk badly. Her owners wanted to euthanize her. But there was something special about her. Kathy Baily, the president of Shar-Pei Savers in Genoa, Ohio, adopted Pepper and trained her to be a therapy dog. (Next year, she’ll be 12 years old.) Independent, regal, alert and dignified: Is this wrinkly wonder right for you?

History

The Shar-Pei most likely originated in the small fishing village of Tai Li in southeastern China during the Han Dynasty (206 BCE-220 CE). While Marco Polo’s journal, published in 1271, only mentions Pugs and Chow Chows, a translation of a 13th-century Chinese manuscript refers to a dog with a “sandpaper-like coat” and a blue-black tongue.

Chinese farmers used Shar-Peis for hunting, herding and guarding their livestock. Following the establishment of the People’s Republic of China as a communist nation, Shar-Peis were declared upper-class luxuries and were virtually wiped out. During this period, a handful was smuggled into Hong Kong and Taiwan.They were crossbred with Tibetan Mastiffs, Chow Chows, Great Pyrenees, Bulldogs and Boxers.

In April 1973, Matgo Law, owner of Down-Homes Kennel in Hong Kong, begged U.S. dog fanciers to “save the Shar-Pei.” Then the “Guinness Book of World Records” proclaimed the Chinese Fighting Dog the rarest dog breed on Earth. Commercially-minded breeders pumped out litters as quickly as impulsive buyers could pull out their credit cards. By the mid-’80s, the Shar-Pei craze died down.

Clowning Around

On April 1, 2018, Jineen McLemore-Torres adopted Jameson from Shar-Pei Savers. At three months old, he hadn’t opened his eyes. “He had a visible cherry eye, and we believe the breeder who surrendered him was unable to sell him,” she says.

“Jameson was initially a medical foster, but my female Shar Pei Jade and I both fell in love with him,” Jineen says. When he’s not lounging on his favorite bed or digging in the mud, he’s running full speed into the couch, without even trying to jump up on it. “When I was playing with him last…he threw himself on the ground, making a loud thump, rolled on to his back, legs in the air and expected a belly rub while nibbling on my hands.”

His stubbornness always rears its ugly head whenever he’s at the store or an event. If he doesn’t want to leave, he plops down on his side or back and refuses to move. “Everyone thinks it’s hilarious, but it doesn’t feel funny when it’s happening to me,” she admits.

Whenever you try to teach a Shar-Pei a new trick without his favorite treats (ahem…antlers), he’ll throw shade at you. While Jameson is a bit lazy, he earned his AKC Star Puppy certification when he was under a year old. Jineen recently began teaching him to shake hands and give high five. “I thought it’d be at least a week of short sessions,” she says, “but at the end of a 10-minute session, he was throwing his paw up.”

Health

“The joke in the Shar-Pei world is, if you’re not willing to spend thousands on your dog for healthcare, don’t get a Shar-Pei,” Kathy says. Shar-Peis are prone to familial Shar-Pei fever (FSF), which causes fever, temporary joint pain and swelling. It can lead to polyarthritis, liver failure and kidney failure.

“There’s no cure for FSF; only supportive care,” says Dr. Erin Wilson from Spring Harbor Animal Hospital in Madison, Wis. “Owners should talk to their family vet about keeping pain medications or non-steroidal anti-inflammatories on hand for painful flare-ups. They should also learn how to take their Shar-Peis’ temperatures, as prolonged elevated body temperature may require hospitalization and IV fluids.”

Shar-Peis are also susceptible to skin infections, eye problems (like retinal dysplasia or glaucoma) and bloat, which is a potentially fatal twisting of the stomach that requires immediate surgical treatment. “We’ve also found that dogs with a horse coat will tend to get kind of a smell to them,” Baily says. “They sleep in a ball, so their bellies tend to get stinky.” Use a baby wipe or gentle shampoo.

While Shar-Peis don’t require a lot of exercise, a sweater or jacket may be needed during the worst of the winter months. “During summertime, walking should be limited to early mornings or evenings when the weather is cooler,” Dr. Wilson says.

Should You Adopt a Shar-Pei?

Shar-Peis don’t show well in shelter settings. When people walk by their cages, they either shrink back or start to bark. “People see that side of them and think, ‘I don’t want a dog like that,’” Kathy says. But Shar-Peis are extremely intelligent and devoted to their families. They slowly warm up to strangers but generally are great once you get to know them. “They are very clean dogs and housetrain very young…and they give the best hippo kisses.”

BY CHERESE COBB, FREELANCER

Sportsmen on both sides of the Atlantic cherish the conveniently sized and agile Brittany as an all-purpose hunting partner and a dog sport teammate. The only thing that makes a Brittany happier than the smelly, great, smelly, wonderful, smelly, outdoors (Did we say smelly?) is staying velcroed to their owners.

History
Brittany is the westernmost region of France, surrounded by the English Channel to the north and the Bay of Biscay to the south. It was here, possibly as early as 150 A.D., that peasants and poachers developed what’s today considered one of the world’s most versatile bird dogs that are capable of hunting duck, woodcock, pheasant and partridge.

While few breeding records have been kept, l’épagneul Breton, or Brittany Spaniel, is thought to be a cross between an orange-and-white English Setter, a Welsh Springer Spaniel and a Spanish Pointer. The breed was recognized in 1907 when an orange-and-white male named Boy was registered as the first Brittany Spaniel in France.

When Brittanys were brought to North America by Juan Pugibet in 1928, American hunters didn’t like them because of their short tails. “Although the Brittany doesn’t have the physique of a German shorthaired pointer or the beauty of a setter, it has enough heart to outhunt any other [gun] dog,” says David Schlake, an upland hunter from Austin, Texas. “If all the pointing breeds made up a team, the Brittany spaniel would be football player Rudy Ruettiger, who recorded an unlikely sack in the waning seconds of the 1975 Notre Dame-Georgia Tech football game.”

Louis A. Thebaud imported these “small players with big enough hearts” into the U.S. in 1931. Three years later, they were recognized by the American Kennel Club. But in 1982, their name was shortened to Brittany because their hunting styles resembled setters more than spaniels.

Never a Dull Moment
On May 12, 2018, Josh Graber and Heather Reichert bought their Brittany named Napa from Gilmore Brittanys in Boscobel, Wisconsin. “We had the option between two female dogs. We picked the one that we thought was going to be calmest,” Graber says. “Actually, she ended up being as energetic as ever.”

Napa successfully hunted pheasant at seven months. “If you don’t hunt them [or exercise them for at least an hour per day], they’ll find something to do, and that usually isn’t good,” says Susan Spaid, the President of the National Brittany Rescue and Adoption Network. “Brittanys do really well with invisible fences. While people do successfully keep them in apartments, they’re usually the kind of people that run five miles per day and take their dogs with them.”

Napa isn’t hardheaded, but self-confidence just kind of oozes out of her. “She lets people know what she wants and isn’t afraid to show it,” Graber says. “She particularly likes dogs that are bigger than her, and [she] can’t get enough of people. Anybody who comes in she tries to get them to do a belly rub.” If she didn’t have that adorable pink nose, she’d be [a] brown-noser for sure. All it takes is a passing look of disapproval from her owners to snap her out of mischief.

The Brittany is a little bit of a shedder but not a very heavy shedder. “I get my dogs’ coats cut pretty close during the summertime,” Spaid says. “But some people shave them.” Napa gets her teeth brushed every day. “I’m a dentist, so that’s something that we focus on. She loves the peanut butter and pork toothpaste,” Graber says, “She gets a bath once per week and her nails cut because they grow pretty fast.”

Health Issues
“The breed is the correct size to live a long life,” says Jesse Sondel, owner of the Sondel Family Veterinary Clinic in Madison, Wisconsin. “Most live 10 to 12 years, with one in five dogs dying of old age at 15 to 17 years.” While they’re fairly healthy, they’ve been known to suffer from hip dysplasia, a sometimes-crippling malformation of the hip joint that can require expensive surgical repair.

Other conditions that can affect the breed are epilepsy and retinal atrophy—which is an untreatable eye disease that causes blindness. Some Brittanys also are born with cleft palates or have hypothyroidism, a common hormonal disease that causes their metabolisms to be as slow as molasses in January. “All breeders should do OFA [Orthopedic Foundation for Animals] hip, elbow and thyroid testing prior to breeding,” Sondel says.

Should You Adopt a Brittany?
Athletic, bright and family-oriented, Brittanys are amazing dogs, but they’re not for everyone. “If a robber entered your house, a Brittany would hold the flashlight for him. They’re just not good watchdogs,” Spaid says. Some Brittanys, especially adolescents, also might suddenly urinate when they get over-excited or feel intimidated.

Whether their owners are taking a Saturday snooze or trekking to the mailbox in their slippers, the Brittany just wants to be near them. But make no mistake; this is not a couch-potato puppy. Brittanys need daily, heart-thumping exercise—whether hunting, doing canine sports or human-centered activities like playing fetch with the kids—to keep their high spirits from bounding off.

BY CHERESE COBB, FREELANCER

If your plugged-in, constantly on-the-go lifestyle has you on the fritz, or you’re cuddle-deprived because of your rental rules, fur-lergic partner or nomadic nature, Milwaukee’s first cat cafe, Sip & Purr, can fill that kitty hole in your soul.

Nestled by Black Cat Alley on Milwaukee’s East Side (2021 E. Ivanhoe Place), the cafe lets you rent time to hang out with cats, while sipping on Ruby’s Coffee Roasters and munching on vegan cheese from The Herbivorous Butcher in Minneapolis, Minnesota. The nearly 2,000-square-foot storefront has a full-service kitchen where Southwest burritos, hummus wraps and s’mores pies are all made in house. “We make our own vegan cinnamon roll with flavors that change with the seasons,” says founder and owner Katy McHugh.

Here, you can drink wine, beer or ‘cat cocktails’, with quirky names like Old Tom Cat and Meowmosa, while petting one of the 10 to 15 adoptable felines that are on the prowl in the cat lounge. They’re sourced by Lakeland Animal Shelter, which houses its cats in a cage-free environment. “They have a stress-free environment that really lets their personalities come out,” McHugh says.

In a typical shelter environment, many of these cats wouldn’t be adopted. There are fearful felines like Jordan who has a blank history and is petrified to socialize with other cats. “Instead of sending Jordan back to the shelter where we knew he didn’t have much chance of being adopted, we gave him his own cage in the back area. He loved it. We spent a lot of one-on-one time with him and gave him treats,” she says. “We left the door open where he could go and come as he pleased. By the time he was adopted, he was a lap cat.”

The cat cafe also rescues strays from Doha, Qatar, where there aren’t any shelters or humane societies. They’re spayed, neutered, chipped and vaccinated by Evenstar Charitable Organisation before they get the green light to make the 15-hour flight to the United States. “They’re fostered in my house for two weeks,” McHugh says.

Since Sip & Purr opened its doors on June 1, 2018, 174 cats have been adopted. McHugh, who has four rescue cats and two Bernese Mountain Dogs, worked as a flight attendant for Southwest Airlines. She was inspired by a big yellow tabby named Gigi who sauntered over and curled up on her lap at a cafe in Amsterdam. “It had been a kind of stressful trip, and petting her released the anxiety. I told my husband, ‘I just want to open a place where people can drink wine and pet cats.'”

“We’ve done cat yoga every Sunday since we’ve opened, and they’ve been sold out since.” Led by a yogini from Yoga Squad Milwaukee, 10 students bend into cat-cow or prayer squat pose, while their yoga mats act as cat magnets. If adoptable cats like Marley or Zana aren’t stretching on your back, they’re either running on their exercise wheel or taking a break from all the attention while using their litter boxes in a private area.

“Anything with cats is more fun,” McHugh says. If you’re a bookworm or a movie buff, Sip & Purr has a monthly book club and a movie night where you can discuss novels like “Maid” by Stephanie Land or view “Weekend at Bernie’s” with other cat connoisseurs.” There’s also a singles mingle. “It was not my idea but it sold out. It’s a pretty good mix of guys and girls,” she says.

Sip & Purr also brought in Kitten Lady Hannah Shaw, a social media celebrity with 875,000 Instagram followers. There are several pop-up puppy and kitten adoption events already scheduled. The cat cafe has also started a Wednesday morning story time with cats geared toward younger kids. “Our cat lounge concierge wants to do a high tea with petit fours and cats,” McHugh says. While there’s a Drag Queen Bingo at The Wise in Madison, Wisconsin, the cat cafe has drag queen Sylvia Nyxx. She comes out to read bingo numbers and offer mini (sometimes cat-themed) prizes for the winners.

“We’ll be working to be represented at Milwaukee Pride’s Block Party and in its Parade,” McHugh says. “Singles, retirees, story time, drag queens. We want to have something for everybody.” All of the money from the events and cat lounge goes to caring for Sip & Purr’s cats. If you want to attend an event, you’ll have to sign up quickly. The cat cafe is busier than a three-legged cat in a dry sandbox. It’s open from 10 a.m. to 9 p.m., Monday thru Saturday and 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. on Sunday.

By CHERESE COBB

If you’re a dog owner, you probably know that you shouldn’t judge a dog by its breed. But if you’re new to the world of dogs, there’s a huge misconception that every dog breed perfectly matches its standard and profile.

Even if your friend’s Chihuahua acts like a wind-up toy, your neighbor’s Saint Bernard slings saliva on the ceiling or your sister’s Poodle plays the piano, breed isn’t a good predictor of behavior, according to a 2014 study by Bristol University in the United Kingdom.

Researchers poured through 4,000 questionnaires that asked dog owners about their pets’ aggression–whether toward family, toward strangers entering the home or in unfamiliar settings outside.

While just 3 percent reported hostility toward family members, nearly 7 percent said their dogs became forceful when meeting strangers. Then 5 percent also reported violence while meeting people out on walks. The majority of dogs showed aggression in just one of these situations, leading researchers to believe it’s largely taught, not bred.

While American Pit Bull Terriers, Dobermans, German Shepherds and Rottweilers all conjure up images of dangerous, snarling attack dogs due to media hype, their behavior can’t possibly be predicted simply by what they look like. Breed labels are wrong more than 75 percent of the time, and 1 in 3 dogs assessed as a bully breed carry absolutely no DNA of any Pit Bull-type dog. Many dogs are also a mixture of breeds. For example, you may want to assume that your Goldendoodle is the perfect combination of a Golden Retriever’s and a Poodle’s attributes, but that’s not always the case.

Breed labeling is becoming an outdated practice. Often based on myth and misinformation, labels can stick with dogs (and their owners) for the rest of their lives and can mean discrimination, losing their homes or even death threats. Here are five such stories:

I’d Take a Bullet for You

When dog owner Kristin Swoboda adopted Moe from the Wisconsin Humane Society in Racine County, she found everything that she had hoped for in a dog. “He’s my heater, my therapist, my laundry helper (really he just lays on it), and most importantly, my best friend,” she says.

He’s incredibly quirky and playful. “When he gets excited, he runs like a newborn calf, and it makes me laugh hysterically,” she says. “He destroys his squeaky toys within seconds. Then he looks at me with the stuffing still in his mouth like, ‘It wasn’t me.’” He even sits halfway between the couch and ottoman and (not so surprisingly) begs for food. When Swoboda says, “No,” he falls over, looks at her with his sad, brown eyes, and then turns his back to her, refusing to allow her to pet him for a few hours.

“He’d literally take a bullet for any human he comes in contact with,” she says, “but he’s a 7-year-old Pit Bull; so people cross the street to get away from him and even shield their kids as he walks past.” Swoboda once took Moe to Petco to let him pick out his own toy, which was most likely his first, considering that he was abused. He can be rambunctious at times, but he was extremely well-behaved. “We were waiting in line and a woman looked at me and said, ‘If that dog even so much as looks at any of my [five] children, I’ll shoot it,’” Swoboda says. “My heart broke when I looked down at Moe. It makes me sad that there are people who pass over Pit Bulls because they’ve lost the best addition to their families.”

Give a Little Love

At the age of 23 and as a Central Bark Doggy Day Care employee, Erin Hennen quickly realized that she wanted to spend more time with dogs than with people.

“The woman who was grooming my family’s dogs … trained me on how to groom,” she says. “I worked Saturdays or came in on a Friday night for those customers that I really liked.”

Hennen then opened Fancy Pants Pet Salon in Wauwatosa, Wisconsin. She took Anakin, her Yellow Lab-Pit Bull mix, to grooming events. “He was a therapy dog and a blood donor,” she says. “He really just looked like a Yellow Lab with a blocky head. When I mentioned that he had some Pit Bull mixed in, people would pull their hands away.”

For Pit Bull Awareness Day, Hennen stood with her dog on a corner, holding a sign that read “Ask me about my Pit Bull mix.” A man purposely walked toward her, while keeping a fair distance, just to tell her that her dog was dangerous.

When she adopted Washburne and Drax, the struggle for breed acceptance became like trying to play darts with spaghetti. Wash and Drax are both Pit Bull-Bulldog mixes. “They both think that they’re lap dogs. If you give either one the chance, they’ll lay on your chest on the couch,” she says. Drax likes to roll onto his back with his stubby little legs waving in the air and a stuffed toy in his mouth. While Wash is all muscle with a head the size of a basketball, he’s really a scaredy cat. “If there’s a bad wind outside, he’ll hold it rather than go out for a potty break,” she says. The momma’s boys get along with Hennen’s 2-year-old daughter and two cats. “Wash makes me smile every day because of the way he looks at me. I’ve never had a dog look at me with as much love as he does,” she says.

Whenever Hennen takes Wash, Drax and Caesar, her 9-year-old Pomeranian-Maltese mix, on walks, people dash across the street or cover their children with their own bodies. “Most frustrating of all, they would come into my grooming shop and tell me that they don’t want their dogs anywhere near ‘those things’ because they don’t want anything to happen to their pups,” she says. Regulars have realized that “my sweet boys are just sitting nicely in their crates hoping for some love … so there’s nothing to really worry about.”

I Need You Now

In 2011, dog enthusiast Debbie Block adopted Mocha, her Doberman Pinscher, from the Milwaukee Area Domestic Animal Control Commission. When Mocha was diagnosed with cancer at the same time as her 95-year-old mother, she had no intention of adding to her family. “Mocha was an incredible soul who loved everyone and changed our neighbors’ perception of Dobbies. They saw what we saw in her and the breed … a dog that longed to be part of a family.”

“Paco came into our lives right after I lost my mom to [bone] cancer, our Doberman named Sugar to congestive heart failure, and our senior cat—all in one week,” she says. She and her husband, John, were at a fundraiser for the Washington County Humane Society in Fox Lake, Illinois, when they received photos of Paco. He was an hour south at the Doberman Rescue Plus. “My husband looked at me and said, ‘No guarantees,’ after we both read the email. Needless to say when we met him, we were both in tears and knew that he was destined to be a Block,” she says.

Dobermans rarely come into the shelter setting. Even though Paco had a snap test done and was heartworm negative, he later tested as heartworm positive. “The hardest thing ever is to have this boy and want to show him what love truly is, and then you can’t even take him out for road trips,” she says. The 8-year-old Doberman recently got the all clear and visited the Girl Scouts in Jackson, Washington. Once he sniffed them all individually, he plopped on the floor right in front of them and rolled on his back to have his tummy rubbed.

He’s fantastic for getting a person to disconnect from technology. “He’ll do anything to have you pet him: cry, stand in front of the TV, nudge you when you’re on your phone, and literally, knock your tablet out of your hand,” she says. He also has a rock-solid temperament. Recently, he heard a child outside crying and started howling. He dragged his owner to the little girl, nudging her and licking her. She started to laugh and loved on him until all of her tears faded away.

Even though he’s a Canine Good Citizen, she has to pay extra liability insurance because of his breed. “Our insurance agent and an underwriter came to our house to meet with us and our dogs before taking us on as a client,” she says. Block brings Paco with her when she’s doing outreach events for the humane society because it helps break the barriers of what people envision Dobermans to be like. “We’ve actually had people come up to us and say, ‘How dare you bring a vicious dog to an outreach event,’” she says. “Anyone who’s met a Doberman knows they all have the same tendencies: they’ll back their rumps up to the couch and sit on it with two legs up in the air and two on the floor, and they’ll look for the crying child or the handicapped person to bring them a sense of security.”
The Problem is People,
Not Pit Bulls

Since 2010, Mecca’s Pit Bull Rescue in Sheboygan, Wisconsin, has saved more than 40 Pit Bulls. “We can only take in one dog at a time,” says President Mecca Curtice, who’s a dog bite safety educator and certified dog trainer with 30 years of experience. She works with her husband, two police officers who are an hour and a half away and one volunteer in Plymouth, Wis. “It’s not about numbers. We’re a voice for Pit Bulls, and we’re focused on continued care, breed advocacy and positive training.”

Pit Bulls aren’t just family companions. They find missing children and lost dementia patients. They pull wheelchairs, open and close doors and interrupt panic attacks. They also comfort nursing home residents and help kids with disabilities become stronger readers.

But they have a 93 percent euthanasia rate. Only one in 600 of them will find a forever home. Good Pit Bulls under the control of bad people do bad things. “Whether an owner understands the reason for the behavior or not, there’s always an underlying cause to a bite or an attack, [usually pain or fear],” says Sara Enos, the founder and executive director of the American Pit Bull Foundation.

“Breed discrimination is wrong,” Curtice says, “because every dog is an individual.” One of the first dogs taken in by the grassroots nonprofit was named Taisha. The American Staffordshire Terrier wasn’t even a year old yet. She had mange in her system and a litter of six puppies. “She never snapped at me even though I was handling them. She really touched me because she had the strength and courage to live,” she says. “Taisha was adopted by a friend who helped with her rescue and all of her puppies have good homes.”

Curtice uses funds from her One Voice T-shirt and Yankee Candle campaigns to provide veterinary care and 15 to 20-minute training sessions for each dog. “We try to do a DNA test if possible. I do it because I like science, and I want to know what’s going on inside of the dogs,” she says. Mecca’s Pit Bull Rescue recently took in Odin (who’s currently adoptable) and Kayla, who was going to be destroyed at just 5 months old because she lacked socialization. Curtice spends more than 60 hours per week with the dogs, training them to follow verbal commands, eventually without hand signals. “When they’re finally adopted, I can tell their new owners about their behaviors and abilities and their likes and dislikes,” she says.

Never a Dull Moment

The owner and operator of Paws Are Us in Menomonee Falls, Wis., Mary Tran knew that she wanted to be a dog groomer when she was 10 years old. “We used to have these ratty Field Spaniels, and I’d sit on a cul-de-sac and pretend to show and groom them,” she says. “All my sisters and brothers have multiple dogs.”

Tran would rather have a hand-me-down than a puppy. She’s fostered more than 80 dogs, including Debby, a 4-month-old Beagle, that had been in three different homes. Originally named Jasmine, Debby wasn’t a match with anyone that was interviewed. “She crawled on my husband’s lap and fell asleep, and he was just like, ‘Let’s keep her,’” she says. “She was a hard dog in the beginning to own because my husband worked third shift, and I couldn’t crate her. I had to take her with me everywhere.”

Originally reactive to other dogs, Debby would get stiff and scrunch up her nose before mumbling, “Ra-ra-ra-ra.” Tran taught her to walk away and sit in her bed at the grooming shop. She’s also very intuitive and really understands other dogs. “If owners aren’t going to control their dogs, she expresses her opinion: they need to stay out of her space. If I have friends that have dogs, she’s friends with them,” she says. “[After 12 years,] Debby is very in tune with me. If I’m worried, she’s worried. Out of all of the dogs that I’ve ever had, she really knows how I’m feeling.”

“Most people I know say, ‘I had a beagle…once.’ You either love them or hate them,” she says. Beagles are the eighth most surrendered breed, according to a 2015 study by rescuegroup.org. Originally bred to be hunting companions, they have an incredible sense of smell and this often leads them to wander far from home when they’re hot on the trail of something, like a squirrel or bird. “Debby knows how to unlock the car door and open it,” she says. “One time, I wasn’t done at my shop yet and Debby jumped out of the sunroof.” Because Beagles are skilled escape artists, they often find themselves abandoned by their owners, or they may run away on their own.

Those who choose a Beagle as a regular family pet might surrender them to shelters when they prove difficult to train. Some people say that Beagles aren’t very intelligent, but Debby can spin and give high fives and high 10s. “If you ask her, ‘What does a Beagle say?’ she howls,” Tran says. “If you put your thumb up, she jumps into the air. I’m trying to teach her to sneeze on command.” Debby participates in barn hunting and nose work “She’s qualified a few times [in barn hunting], but as soon as she finds the rat, she turns her nose away like, ‘I’m too good for this,’” she says. “She competes if I ask her to, but then she’ll go, ‘What’s in it for me?’ She knows whenever there are treats in my pockets. She follows me around all day long … and eats the treats out of my friends’ coat pockets as soon as they put them down.”

When it comes to hounds, you have to make them think that everything is their idea. “They have no patience and the common sense of a 2 year old,” she says. Whether they’re finding a rabbit in a hole or secretly snacking on the kibble in your trunk, you can’t tell them what to do.

“You’ve got to figure them out—just like any dog,” she says. At Debby’s last nose work competition, she was prancing through the crowd, and they were like, “She’s so cute and petite.” “Debby knows how to get reactions. It’s not a bad thing … [because] there’s never a dull moment with my Beagle.”

Removing Labels

Lindsey Huffman, the director of Shenandoah Valley Animal Services in Lyndhurst, Virginia, asked all of her employees to write down the breeds of all of their shelter dogs. Every one of them was different. “Basically, we were just guessing, and it was unfair,” she says. “We stopped labeling dogs about a year and a half ago.”

“While breeds are an aspect of a dog, they don’t make up everything about that dog,” says Michael Morefield, the marketing and communications manager for the Arizona Animal Welfare League. Whether your dogs come from a puppy mill, a responsible dog breeder or a shelter, their personalities, their temperaments and their life experiences really make up who they are.

“When you remove breed labels, you open the door to possibility. You have a chance to fall in love without being inhibited by breed,” says Cheryl Schneider, the Director for Williamson County Regional Animal Shelter. “Instead, fall in love by listening to your heart.”

Disclaimer: Pit Bull isn’t a breed of dog recognized by any of the kennel clubs, and there’s no agreed upon definition for what a Pit Bull actually is. As an umbrella term, it may refer to American and English Bulldogs, Staffordshire Bull Terriers, American Staffordshire Terriers, American Pit Bull Terriers, or any of their mixes.

 

By CHERESE COBB

Because dogs live in the present. Because they don’t hold grudges. Because they let go of all their anger daily, hourly and never let it fester, they’ve become man’s best friend. Whether they’re famous for lighting up the silver screen or pulling soldiers from the trenches, for one reason or another, these 13 dogs have earned their place in history.

1. Sallie
The canine mascot for the 11th Pennsylvania Volunteer Infantry during the Civil War, Sallie Ann Jarrett was a brindle Staffordshire Bull Terrier. She was given to Lt. William R. Terry when she was just four weeks old. She adapted quickly to army life, joining the soldiers during their drills and on the frontlines of the battlefield. During the first day of fighting at Gettysburg, she was separated from her platoon when they retreated to Cemetery Hill. Three days later, they found her guarding her wounded and dead companions. On February 6, 1865, at Hatcher’s Run, she was struck by a bullet to the head and killed instantly. Despite being under heavy fire, several soldiers put aside their weapons to bury her on the spot.

2. Bud Nelson
On May 23, 1903, Dr. Horatio Nelson Jackson and Sewall Crocker slid into the front seat of a gleaming, cherry-red Winton and made the first-ever cross-country automobile trip. They took out the backseat, loaded it with tools, extra gas, and provisions, named it Vermont, and raced to get from the West back East. Along the way, they added a third party to the car: a Pit Bull Terrier named Bud, who was bought for $15 and outfitted with goggles to keep the dust, smoke and noxious fumes out of his eyes. Riding shotgun, he learned to watch the road ahead as intently as Jackson and Crocker did, bracing himself for every bump and turn—and becoming, his owner said, “the one member of [our] trio who used no profanity on the entire trip.”

3. Rover
On August 19, 1905, Rover became the first dog to play a major role in a motion picture. In the British silent film “Rescued by Rover,” the Border Collie saves his owners’ baby when she’s kidnapped from her nanny by a drunken beggar woman. Directed by Cecil Hepworth, the six-and-a-half minute film was so popular that he had to re-shoot it twice to keep up with demand. When Rover passed away, the film company put out a newsletter which announced, “This faithful animal had been Mr. Hepworth’s constant companion…and was the general pet of the studio at Walton-on-Thames.”

4. Bluey
Born on June 7, 1910, Bluey holds the title of the world’s oldest dog according to “The Guinness Book of World Records.” Owned by Les and Esma Hall of Rochester, Victoria, the Blue Heeler herded cattle and sheep until he was 20 years old. He also was fed a diet of kangaroos and emus. He was put down on November 14, 1939 at the age of 29 years, five months and seven days. In human years, he was roughly 223 years old.

5. Stubby
On a steamy July morning, Stubby wandered into Camp Yale, where members of the 102nd Infantry were training. He wasn’t an impressive sight: short, barrel-shaped and homely with brown and white brindled stripes. He lingered around the platoon, learning bugle calls, drills and even a modified dog salute, where he put his right paw on his right eyebrow. When Pvt. J. Robert Conroy’s squadron shipped out for France aboard the SS Minnesota, he hid the Pit Bull in a coal bin. On March 17, 1918, Stubby smelled mustard gas. He ran up and down the trenches barking and biting soldiers, waking them up and getting them to safety. He also captured a German spy, who was mapping out the positions of the allied trenches, by the seat of his pants and held on until his fellow soldiers arrived. He became the first–and only–military dog to be promoted to sergeant.

6. Rin Tin Tin
On September 15, 1918, in the small French village of Flirey, Corporal Lee Duncan found a severely damaged kennel. The only dogs left alive were a starving mother with a litter of five nursing puppies, their eyes still shut because they were less than a week old. When the puppies were weaned, Duncan gave the mother and three of her puppies to his comrades in the 135th Aero Squadron. He kept a male and a female, naming them after a pair of good luck charms called Rintintin and Nénette that French children often gave to the American soldiers. When he returned to San Francisco, California, Duncan trained Rin Tin Tin to perform silent film work. The dog went on to star in 27 Hollywood films. He also received a key to New York City from Mayor Jimmy Walker and his own star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame. Rin Tin Tin and Nanette produced at least 48 puppies. Their descendants have been trained as service dogs to provide assistance to special needs children.

7. Toto
Toto was played by a Cairn Terrier named Terry who appeared in over 10 Hollywood films. Born in Altadena, California, in 1933, she began acting after her anxiety led to one too many accidents inside of her owner’s house. She was eventually coached by legendary trainer Carl Spitz who started the Hollywood Dog Training School in 1927. She earned a lucrative salary of $125 per week and did all of her own stunts. While on the set of “The Wizard of Oz,” an actor accidentally stepped on her paw. She recuperated at co-star Judy Garland’s house, returning to set just two weeks later.

8. _______ Can You Guess Who Is Missing?

9. Chips
Chips, a mix of German Shepherd, Collie and Husky, was sent into military service because he had bitten a garbage collector. Serving with the 3rd Infantry Division, he single-handedly attacked a hidden German gun nest during World War II (1935-1945), biting German soldiers and pulling a smoking machine gun from its base. According to his handler Pvt. John Rowell, Chips grabbed one of the Germans by his neck and dragged him from the pillbox. The K9 suffered burns and scalp wounds but was awarded the Silver Star, a Distinguished Service Cross, and a Purple Heart.

10. Balto
Balto, a Siberian Husky, was originally part of a dog team that transported supplies to miners. On January 21, 1925, several Inuit children in Nome, Alaska, were diagnosed with diphtheria; a deadly bacterial infection that causes a thick covering in the back of the throat. Anchorage, more than 600 miles away, was the closest place with a supply of lifesaving serum. A train transported the medicine part of the distance to Nenana. Then twenty mushers took part in a Pony Express-type relay on the Iditarod Trail. They battled against snow and ice that were measured in yards and winds that were sometimes strong enough to knock over both their dogs and their sleds. Balto led the final 53-mile sprint and became a symbol of teamwork, courage, tenacity, and hope—even when there seems to be no reason for it.

11. Laika
On November 3, 1957, Laika, a mixed-breed dog, became the first living creature in orbit when the USSR launched her into space aboard the Sputnik 2. Found wandering the streets of Moscow, she was trained by Dr. Vladimir Yazdovsky. Because the spacecraft was the size of a washing machine, he put her into smaller and smaller cages for up to 20 days at a time. “Laika was quiet and charming,” Yazdovsky wrote in his book chronicling the story of Soviet space medicine, “After placing her in the container and closing the hatch, we kissed her nose and wished her bon voyage…knowing that she would not survive the flight.” They planned to poison her dog food, but she died within seven hours—in sweltering heat and excruciating pain, as her heart pumped three times its normal rate.

12. K9
A robot dog from the 1960s British TV series Doctor Who, K9 was created in the 51st century by Professor Frederick Marius. He has a gun in his snout, a plunger in between his eyes, radar dishes for ears, and a mouth that produces ticker-tape printouts. The Time Lord’s sidekick refers to his traveling companions as “Doctor-Master” or “Mistress”. He answers their questions with a clipped “Affirmative!” or “Negative!” Programmed with all of the chess games since 1886, K9 can beat his owner in six moves. He also has thousands of human movies on his hard drive—which peppers his speech with 20th and 21st century English colloquialisms.

13. Roselle
On September 11, 2001, Michael Hingson, blind since birth, arrived for work at the World Trade Center’s Tower One. His guide dog, Roselle, settled into her usual post underneath his desk. At 8:46 am, he heard a tremendous boom, and the 1,368-foot tall building started to shudder violently, before slowly tipping, leaning over 20 feet. “While everything was happening, the explosion, the burning debris, the people in the conference room screaming, Roselle sat next to me as calm as ever,” says Hingson. “[From the 78th floor,] the thought hit me that I could be a guide. So I called out to everyone not to worry, that Roselle and I would lead the way,” he says. By the time they reached the sidewalk, Tower Two collapsed, sounding like a metal and concrete waterfall.