The best thing about friends is they're there when you need them, and Man's Best Friend is no no different. These 10 remarkable dogs are famous for displaying loyalty that goes above and beyond what anyone might expect. Not all of them have had statues erected in their honor but you'd better believe each one of them is deserving.
1) Greyfriars Bobby
When it comes to dogs famed for their loyalty, Greyfriars Bobby remains outstanding in his... graveyard? Bobby was a Skye Terrier who guarded the grave of his owner, an Edinburgh policeman and night watchman named John Gray, for 14 years until he himself passed on in early 1872.
A 1912 novel by Eleanor Atkinson and several movies have assured Bobby's place in popular culture but his legend may not be what it purports to be. Author Jan Bondeson researched Bobby's story in detail for his 2011 book “Greyfriars Bobby: The Most Faithful Dog in the World”.
Turns out there may have been TWO Bobby's, a necessary fabrication that kept tourists coming to visit him. “It won't ever be possible to debunk the story of Greyfriars Bobby,” says Bondeson, “he's a living legend, the most faithful dog in the world, and bigger than all of us.” If you've ever seen a Skye Terrier, that's really saying something. (Loyal dog images via Trip Advisor and Amazon.com)
In January of 2011, southeastern Brazil was pummeled by severe rainstorms which caused catastrophic landslides. Hillsides collapsed without warning and entire villages were swept away in one of the country's worst recorded natural disasters.
Upwards of 600 people lost their lives, including Cristina Maria Cesario Santana of Teresopolis, a mountainous municipality near the city of Rio de Janiero that was one of the hardest hit areas.
Rescuers noticed Santana's dog Leão (“Lion” in Portuguese), digging in the mud – his owner's body (along with those of 3 other deceased family members) were subsequently discovered and formally reburied. Leão then waited at the grave site for several days before volunteers gently removed him, fed him, and treated him for exposure.
Some suspicion of Leão's story was raised following the widespread posting of photos on the Internet and through the mainstream media. Supposedly, Leão was actually the local gravedigger's dog who just happened to be chilling out beside a fresh grave when his picture was taken... more plausible perhaps but not the story we'd prefer to believe. (Loyal dog image via Vanderlei Almeida / AFP - Getty Images and Taildom)
3) Wang Cai
Wang Cai isn't your average Chongqing street mutt – he wears fashionable winter jackets in cold weather and spends nights safe and warm in his owner's nearby condo. In summer his coat appears trimmed, brushed & glossy. Things weren't always so cozy for the pampered pooch, however. His owner found him 4 years ago wandering the streets without a collar and gave him food, shelter and lotsa luv.
Wang Cai appreciates his new lease on life and his new luxurious lifestyle, and he's not afraid to show it. After following his owner to her job at the Minsheng Bank each morning, Wang Cai stakes out a suitable resting place outside the front doors and hunkers down for 8 solid hours.
Refusing food from concerned strangers and chasing away any shaggy squatters, Wang Cai waits patiently and only perks up at 5pm when his owner exits the bank at the end of her working day. According to a local street-sweeper, Wang Cai has been performing his daily vigil for the past two years and both dog and owner seem satisfied with the display of mutual loyalty. (Loyal dog images via ChinaSMACK)
4) “Bobbie the Wonder Dog”
“Bobbie the Wonder Dog” of Silverton, Oregon, was a 2-year-old Scotch Collie and English Shepherd mix who became a major media sensation in the 1920s. Bobbie was lost in late 1923 while he and his owners, the Brazier family, were on vacation in Indiana.
By February of 1924 the Braziers still hadn't gotten over the loss of their beloved pet when suddenly a scrawny, mangy, wear-footed Bobbie appeared on their front doorstep. It appeared that Bobbie had managed to travel the approximately 2,800 miles (4,100 km) between where he disappeared in Indiana to his home in Silverton in about 6 months – in the dead of winter! The distance is roughly equivalent to that of 18 Ironman races.
A writeup on Bobbie featured in The Silverton Appeal was picked up and reprinted by newspapers across the country and Bobbie became a national celebrity. The Oregon Humane Society launched an investigation and corroborated the story, based on reports of people having seen Bobbie on the move. Today, a statue of Bobbie stands outside his original doghouse in downtown Silverton. (Loyal dog images via Andrea Kladar and Redbeard Math Pirate)
Fido was a 2-year-old mixed-breed dog from Borgo San Lorenzo, Italy (just outside Florence), who was found by brick kiln worker Carlo Soriani lying injured in a roadside ditch. He and his wife patiently nursed the dog back to health, eventually naming him “Fido” which means “faithful one” in Latin.
True to his name, Fido began accompanying Soriani to the central square bus stop in Luco del Mugello (a frazione of Borgo) each working day and meet him there upon his return. One day in 1943 everything changed for Soriani and Fido – the RAF conducted an aerial bombing raid over Borgo San Lorenzo and Carlo Soriani was one of the casualties. Once the rubble was cleared, life went on pretty much as it always had with one exception: Fido made his trips to and from the bus stop alone.
So it went for the next 14 years, and as time passed Fido's reputation for fidelity spread far and wide. To honor Fido and as recognition for his outstanding, long-running loyalty to his owner, the Comune of Borgo San Lorenzo commissioned sculptor Salvatore Cipolla to create a monument to Fido to be placed in Borgo San Lorenzo's Piazza Dante.
The monument was dedicated in late 1957 with both Fido and Soriani's widow in attendance. Fido passed away on June 9th, 1958 while waiting at the bus stop. He is buried beside his master in the cemetery of Luco dei Marsi. (Loyal dog images via Geocaching and Il Filo)
Arguably the most famous dog in Indian history, Waghya was a mixed-breed sight hound belonging to Chhatrapati Shivaji Maharaj, founder of India's vast Maratha Empire and rival to the muslim Mughal Empire. Waghya was said to be Shivaji's constant companion, and his presence was much appreciated by Shivaji, a champion of justice, loyalty and fidelity.
After Shivaji died in the year 1680, he was given a lavish Hindu funeral which culminated in the burning of his body atop a funeral pyre. Legend has it that Waghya, distraught at the sight of his master's body going up in smoke, leaped onto the burning pyre and thus self-immolated himself.
In 1936, a statue of Waghya was erected at the site of his ashes' burial at Raigad, a rugged mountain fort that was Shivaji's capital. Since then his fame has spread across India and he's become the byword for lifelong loyalty by a pet to its owner. Though some doubt the veracity of Waghya's legend, his tale has become ingrained in modern Indian culture and as such the spirit of his story has transcended matters of a factual nature. (Loyal dog images via Shivaji Raja and IndiaShots)
Navy Seal Jon Tumilson was one of the 30 soldiers who perished on August 6th, 2012, in Afghanistan when their helicopter was shot down. Among the many mourners who attended Tumilson's funeral on August 19th in his hometown of Rockford, Iowa, was Tumilson's chocolate-brown Labrador Retriever, Hawkeye.
According to some of the approximately 1,500 attendees at the memorial service reported that when the service began, Hawkeye followed Tumilson's good friend Scott Nichols to the podium, heaved a great sigh, and stretched out on the floor before the flag-draped casket where he remained until the service ended.
Tumilson's cousin, Lisa Pembleton, posted a photo of Hawkeye's lonely vigil online where it quickly spread virally. “I felt compelled to take one photo to share with family members that couldn't make it or couldn't see what I could from the aisle,” wrote Pembleton on her Facebook page. As for Hawkeye, he's found a new home with Scott Nichols and his family. (Loyal dog images via FOX Sports and WCF Courier)
8) Lao Pan's Dog
Lao Pan, a single man from the Chinese village of Panjiatun near Qingdao, devoted most of his time in his waning years to ensure his mixed-breed yellow dog was happy and healthy. When Lao Pan passed away in November of 2011 at the age of 68, no one mourned more than his dog.
It seems that after Lao Pan's modest funeral his rented room was cleared out but nobody could find his dog. Sometime later, the dog turned up at the cemetery and was seen to be guarding Lao Pan's grave. How the dog knew the grave was Lao Pan's is anyone's guess.
Not even thirst or hunger could tempt Lao Pan's dog from his perceived duty to guard his master. When villagers concerned about the dog brought it back to the village and gave it some steamed buns to eat, the dog promptly picked up the buns and took them back to the cemetery. Evidently Lao Pan's dog has one this particular battle as the villagers and planning to build a kennel for him at the grave site and will bring him food and water regularly. (Loyal dog images via BBC and Petopia)
Life was tough during the Great Depression and few had any sympathy when a nameless Montana shepherd fell ill and managed to make it to St. Clare Hospital in Fort Benton. The man's sheepdog had followed him to the hospital and refused to leave – a kind nun there fed the equally nameless dog out of the goodness of her heart.
The dog's owner did not recover from his illness and passed away, and when the man's family back east was informed of his death they requested his body be shipped to them by train. As the man's coffin was loaded onto the eastbound train, his dog suddenly appeared and tried to board the boxcar but was firmly pushed away. Whining, the dog sadly trotted away... and the next day when another passenger train pulled into the station, there he was to meet it.
In the summer of 1936 up to four passenger trains stopped daily at the Fort Benton station and each time, “Shep”, as station workers began to call him, was there waiting for his master's return. For five and half years no matter what the weather, Shep watched and waited. Montana's extreme climate took its toll on an already old dog, however, and on the morning of January 12th, 1942, Shep didn't hear the approaching morning train in time to avoid it. He is buried atop a knoll overlooking the train station. (Loyal dog images via Roadside America and Hawkstone Productions)
Perhaps the world's most famous faithful dog, Hachiko's legend has been told in books, a 2009 film starring Richard Gere titled Hachiko: A Dog's Story, and by word of mouth in Japan and around the globe.
In a nutshell, Hachiko was an Akita dog born in late 1923 and acquired early the next year by Hidesaburo Ueno, a professor at the University of Tokyo's department of agriculture. Ueno and Hachiko quickly established a workday routine: Hachiko would accompany the professor to nearby Shibuya Station, return home on his own, and appear at the station again in time to meet the professor as he exited the station. So it went until one day in May of 1925 when Professor Ueno suffered from a fatal cerebral hemorrhage and thus did not return to the waiting, unknowing Hachiko.
Professor Ueno's loyal pet continued to wait for him at the east exit of Shibuya station every day thereafter until March 8th of 1935 when his deceased body was found on a side street. The bronze statue of Hachiko outside Shibuya Station's east exit has become famous itself as a reliable meeting place in downtown Tokyo.
Summing up the salient points of Hachiko's story evokes comparisons to other faithful dogs, indicating that loyalty above and beyond the call is a characteristic shared by many dogs and not just a few. Have we been underestimating our long-time canine companions? Those who've established a true partnership with their pets would say their actions speak for themselves, and as we all know, actions speak louder than words. (Loyal dog images via Fanpop, IMDB, Technotheory via flickr and Blackstone Valley)