The Dog is the animal zodiac for this year’s Chinese lunar calendar.
What better way to celebrate the year of man’s best friend other than to remember these 10 iconic dogs around the world!
1. The symbolic dog for loyalty – Hachiko (Japan)
Hachiko is perhaps the world’s most famous dog known for his loyalty.
Born on Nov 10, 1923, Hachiko was an Akita dog owned by a university professor named Hidesaburo Ueno.
Hachiko used to wait for Ueno at Shibuya station everyday. When his master died in May 1925, the dog continued to wait at the train station until his own death nine years later from terminal cancer and filaria infection.
Hachiko was buried beside Ueno in Aoyama Cemetery, Tokyo.
He continues to be remembered in popular culture with statues, books and movies including an American version starring actor Richard Gere called Hachi: A Dog’s Tale.
2. The faithful dog of Tolyatti – Kostya (Russia)
A German Shepherd was riding the South Highway in Russia with his human parents when their car crashed.
His human mum died at the scene and human dad a few hours later. He was the sole survivor.
He stayed at the site of the crash for the next seven years watching passing cars.
Nobody knew his name so people began calling him Kostya or “Faithful”.
Residents of the nearby city Tolyatti tried to adopt him but he only accepted food, always returning to his waiting place.
In 2012, Kostya was found dead in the woods, most probably due to natural causes.
Saddened by his demise, the people of Tolyatti constructed a bronze statue of Kostya.
The statue was officially unveiled on June 1, 2003 which also happened to be the 266th anniversary of the founding of Tolyatti.
3. The famous dog of Krakow – Dzok (Poland)
In 1990, Dzok (pronounced ‘Jock’) was out with his master when the elderly man had a heart attack at the Rondo Grunwaldzkie roundabout.
When the ambulance picked up his owner, the mix-breed dog ended up being left behind. While the man died en route to the hospital, Dzok continued to wait for his owner at that roundabout a year later.
An old lady – and her dog – later adopted him and he enjoyed the warmth of a home again.
Sounds like a happy ending right? Wrong!
The old woman died six years after Dzok was adopted. He was taken to a shelter which he then escaped and was killed by a train.
People remembered his story and a statue was built in remembrance of his unwavering loyalty and dedicated to homeless animals.
You can visit Dzok’s sculpture made by famous Polish sculptor Bronislaw Chromy in Krakow.
4. The brave dog who worked at Ground Zero, New York (US)
When Bretagne and her trainer Denise Corliss were assigned to Ground Zero after the 9/11 attacks, it was her first assignment as a rescue dog.
Later, she joined rescue efforts after Hurricanes Katrina and Ivan.
Bretagne retired from rescue mission at the age of 9 in 2008 but that did not stop her from serving. She served as a reading dog in a elementary school.
When she was euthanised on June 7, 2016 after suffering from kidney failure, she was the last surviving dog from 9/11.
5.The loyal dog who is now sitting on what used to be a drinking fountain – Bobby (Scotland)
Greyfriars Bobby was the Hachiko of the 19th century.
He spent 14 years guarding his owner’s grave at Greyfriars Kirkyard until he died on Jan 15, 1872.
There were various versions of his origin but he famously belonged to John Gray, a nightwatchman for the Edinburgh City Police.
In 1873, an English philanthropist so intrigued by the story commissioned a drinking fountain topped with Bobby’s statue.
The Greyfriars Bobby Fountain used to be a water fountain for both humans and dogs until the water supply was cut off in 1975.
6.The dog who jumped into fire for his master – Waghya (India)
Waghya belonged to Chhatrapati Shivaji Maharaj, the founder of India’s Maratha Empire.
When Shivaji died in 1680, he was given a Hindu funeral. Legend says Waghya was so sad over his owner’s passing, he leaped onto the burning pyre.
Waghya’s statue at Raigad Fort in Maharashtra, next to Shivaji’s memorial was a subject of political protest in 2012.
Sambhaji Brigade, an extremist political wing removed the statue, claiming the dog was a fiction.
Fortunately, the statue has been reinstated by the Archaelogical Survey of India.
7.The dog who stayed by his master’s dead body – Ruswarp (England)
Even when grief strikes, how long would you stay next to your loved one’s body?
This Border Collie stayed with the body of his master for 11 weeks in dead winter.
Ruswarp was accompanying his master Graham Nuttall for a walk in Llandrindod Wells, Powys on Jan 20, 1990. When they failed to return, the authorities called for a search and rescue mission for Nuttall.
A hiker found Nuttall’s body on Apr 7 by a mountain stream. Ruswarp was nearby in such a weak state that he had to be carried off the mountain.
Ruswarp died shortly after attending Nuttall’s funeral.
8.The wrongful death of Gelert (Wales)
Legend has it Gelert was a dog belonged to Llywelyn the Great, Prince of Gwynedd, one of the successor states to the Roman empire.
Llwelyn returned from hunting to find his baby missing and Gelert with a blood-smeared mouth.
He immediately assumed the dog had killed his child so he drew his sword and killed Gelert.
Suddenly, he heard a baby cry. Llwelyn found his child unharmed under the cradle, next to a dead wolf.
He then realised Gelert had killed the wolf in order to protect the child. Regretful and filled with remorse, Llwelyn buried the dog.
Gelert was famously associated with the village of Beddgelert ( which means Gelert’s Grave) in Wales.
There is a grave believed to be where the dog was buried with two slate memorials written in Welsh and English at the village.
However, now it is widely accepted that the village took its name from a saint named Celert, not the dog.
And the supposed grave? It is believed a hotel owner named David Prichard in the late 18th century connected the legend to boost tourism in his village. Talk about mad marketing skills!
9.The dog who who accompanied his master through sickness and health – Canelo (Spain)
Canelo was the constant companion of an old man who was suffering from kidney complications. Once a week, Canelo and his master would walk together to Puerta del Mar Hospital for his master’s dialysis treatments.
Since the hospital did not allow animals inside, Canelo would faithfully wait for his master at the door.
Sometime in 1990, however, Canelo’s owner did not come back out of those hospital doors. He passed away during his treatment.
Nonetheless, Canelo continued to wait for 12 long years until he was killed by a car outside the hospital on December 9, 2002.
The city of Cadiz was so moved by Canelo’s steadfastedness that they named an alley after him and put up a plaque in his memory.
10. The dog who lost his life after a fight with a cat – Islay (Australia)
Islay was owned by one of the most famous and powerful women in history – Queen Victoria.
Not much is known about his life except that he was a Skye terrier and was the queen’s favorite dog for five years before his tragic and unexpected death after fighting with a cat.
What makes him iconic, however, is his life after death.
In Sydney, there is a sculpture of Islay next to Queen Victoria’s statue outside Queen Victoria Building, George St, Sydney.
Islay is sculpted begging above a wishing well set up for donations on behalf of the Royal Institute for Deaf and Blind Children.
Sculptor Justin Robson modelled it after the queen’s sketch in 1843.
There is a recording played intermittently from hidden loudspeakers saying “Because of the many good deeds I’ve done for deaf and blind children, I have been given the power of speech.”
And of course, the recording concludes with two barks.