Ah, History. It abounds with stories. Mostly maddening stories, which alternate grand acts of exploitation with bouts of syphilis — exploitation and syphilis, syphilis and exploitation. And the silk trade.
But every now and then, the annals produce a tale to tug at the heartstrings. Not surprisingly, these stories seem to take flight when you remove a human protagonist and replace him (in history, the real jerks are almost always “hims”) with a dog. We looked through a stack of Stephen Ambrose books we found idling by a curb in a “free” box and found these examples of canine heroism. Surely you know a few more.
Bobbie the Wonder Dog rose to fame in the 1920s after he walked more than 2,500 miles over six months to return to his home in Oregon after his owner lost him on a road trip. Shortly after Bobbie passed away in 1927, Rin Tin Tin laid a wreath at his grave.
Jofi was Sigmund Freud’s Chow. The doctor often allowed Jofi to attend sessions with patients, noting in his papers how she helped him read his clients’ mood. When patients were calm, she would sit close enough so they could pet her. When they were anxious, she kept a clear distance.
After seeing the remains of his master loaded onto a train in Fort Benton, Montana, Shep began making daily visits to the train depot during arrival times. The Border Collie kept this up for seven years, quickly ingratiating himself with the depot staff, until Shep himself was killed by a train in 1942.
In 1943, Fido’s master, Carlo Soriani, died in an air raid, fighting for the Axis powers in World War II. For the next 14 years, until Fido died in 1957, he returned to the bus stop that had once served as his meeting place with his master.
The original of this species of loyalty tales is Odysseus’s loyal pup, Argos. In The Odyssey, Argos wills himself to live through 20 years of neglect so he can express, one last time, his love to his master.
Perhaps the most celebrated dog on our list is Hachiko, who is famous for keeping a daily vigil for his dead master at their meeting place, a train station, for nine years until Hachiko himself passed away. Numerous novels, short stories, children’s books, and movies have retold Hachiko’s story. The most prominent in the West is the film Hachi: A Dog’s Tale, which stars Richard Gere and relocates the action from Tokyo to Connecticut.
For six years, this German Shepherd from the foothills of Argentina has kept a nightly vigil at his owner’s grave. Mysteriously, it remains unknown to the family of the deceased how Capitan identified the gravesite in the first place. The dog wasn’t present at his owner’s funeral or burial. It was upon returning from the cemetery one Sunday that the family noticed Capitan’s mournful behavior. The cemetery’s director recalls the first day the dog showed up, watching Capitan wander the grounds before finding his owner’s grave on his own.