Ten Dogs that Changed the World

What do Alexander the Great and Sigmund Freud have in common? Both men's lives were heavily affected by dogs. Check out this informative article from...

Joy  |  Nov 9th 2007


laika.jpg

What do Alexander the Great and Sigmund Freud have in common? Both men’s lives were heavily affected by dogs. Check out this informative article from CNN.

Ten dogs that changed the world

By E. Bougerol

(LifeWire) — Fifty years ago this Saturday, Laika — a sweet-tempered stray plucked off the streets of Moscow — was thrust into the global spotlight when she became the first living creature sent into space.

When Sputnik 2’s canine passenger (nicknamed “Muttnik” by the media) hit orbit, the Soviet Union grabbed the edge over the U.S. in the space race, a crux of competition during the Cold War.

Sadly, Laika’s history-making voyage ended prematurely: In their rush to be first, Soviet scientists had made no provisions for her safe return.

“She died before reaching orbit, and before any real data was gleaned about sustaining life in that environment,” says Dr. Stanley Coren, professor of psychology at the University of British Columbia and author of “The Pawprints of History: Dogs and the Course of Human Events.”

But if little scientific knowledge was gleaned from Laika’s journey, her mark on world events is undeniable. “We were behind the Russians,” says Coren. “The U.S. quickly switched focus to putting a living being on the moon.”

Laika is just one of the many canines to have left a furry legacy behind. Coren names 10 other dogs and the roles they played in history.

Nos. 1 and 2. Strelka and Belka’s successful orbit

Laika was the first dog sent into space, but Strelka (Squirrel) and Belka (LIttle Arrow) — launched on Sputnik 5 in 1960 for a one-day mission — were the first to return alive. As a result, much more was learned from their mission. Strelka later gave birth to a litter of puppies, one of which, Pushinka, was given to President John F. Kennedy’s daughter, Caroline.

No. 3. How Peritas saved civilization

Without his dog, Peritas, Alexander the Great might have been Alexander the So-So. When the warrior was swarmed by the troops of Persia’s Darius III, Peritas leapt and bit the lip of an elephant charging his master. Alexander lived to pursue his famed conquest, forging the empire underlying Western civilization as we know it.

No. 4. Charlie, Kennedy’s Cuban Missile Crisis companion

At the height of 1962’s Cuban missile crisis, President Kennedy had his son’s Welsh terrier Charlie summoned to the chaotic War Room. The president held the terrier in his lap, petting him and appearing, by all accounts, to relax. Eventually he announced that he was ready to “make some decisions” — those that de-escalated the conflict.

No. 5. Jofi, the first therapy dog

Sigmund Freud usually kept a chow named Jofi in his office during psychotherapy sessions, believing the dog comforted the patients. Freud’s notes on these interactions, detailed in his diaries, form the basis of modern-day pet-assisted therapy. Dog returned to fire victims

No. 6. Urian bites Pope, separates church and state

Henry VIII sent Cardinal Wolsey to meet with Pope Clement VII, hoping the pontiff would grant the ruler an annulment of his marriage to Catherine of Aragon. When the pope extended his bare toe to be kissed (as was the custom) by Wolsey, the Cardinal’s dog, Urian, sprang forward and bit the pope. Clement flew into a rage, the divorce was off and Henry — to ensure the annulment the Catholic Church refused to grant — later established the Church of England.

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