7 Small Dogs Who Do Big Jobs

These little dogs and their pals do big jobs: teaching kids, working as innkeepers, even rustling elephants!


How many of you know of a big dog that does a “big dog” job? Rough, rugged breeds are often born and bred to take on mighty tasks and exert their physical prowess, including cart pulling and avalanche rescue.

On the flip side, how many of you know of a small dog who behaves like a big dog? You know the type: small in stature but gigantic in presence. It is said the best things often come in small packages, and once you get to know this pack of pooches, it’s easy to see why.

1. Jake and Angus, stranger danger teachers

Jake and Angus each weigh in at five pounds apiece. Jake is a svelte Chihuahua and Angus a Dachshund. Together, this dynamic duo is tasked with teaching kids how not to get kidnapped.

Alongside their mom, award-winning author and parenting expert Julia Cook, these small dogs pack a mighty punch in traveling the country to crusade against topics like avoiding strangers and bullying.

Cook and her dogs have presented in more than 800 schools across the country. “There are so many ideas out there that need to be shared,” says Julia, who, alongside her dogs, takes research and creatively translates it into “kid language,” which is both entertaining and engaging.

2. Max, the elephant dog

Maximus, aka Max, is the elephant barn dog at the Houston Zoo in Texas. The Bull Terrier mix was rescued from the side of a rural Houston area road in 2008 by zookeepers. Five years later, Max is touted as an integral part of the elephant team’s day-to-day routines.

In addition to being a guest relations practitioner, PR agent, and resident storyteller, Max gets to enter the elephant space — but only when the zookeepers do. He has a great relationship with the elephants, and he provides the perfect platform for discussing responsible animal care with zoo guests.

Max also helps dispel myths and misconceptions about his breed. For guests attending the 10 a.m. elephant baths at the McNair Asian Elephant Habitat, Max is a one-dog welcome committee.

“Max has quite the social calendar and has never met a person he didn’t like,” says Martina Stevens, elephant manager. “We think that’s probably why zoo guests and staff like him so much, too.”

3. Tag, the craniosacral therapist’s dog

Imagine having a dog lie down on the middle of your body to help calm you down and provide comfort. Depending on the size of the dog, this could be quite uncomfortable. But that isn’t the case with Tag, a five-pound Morkie belonging to Tami Goldstein of Janesville, Wisconsin. Goldstein says Tag has been in her life since the dog was 10 weeks old.

“I work with individuals on the autism spectrum or with other developmental disorders,” she says. “Tag is trained to lie on the person down the middle of their body or next to them. He provides comfort and some pressure to help calm them.”

She reports that children with autism can get very agitated in different environments and may become unreceptive to people working with them. Tag helps the child stay calm and receptive to receiving therapy.

4. Tatiana (plus Pebbles and Fiona McSnuggles!)

“The Three Musketeers” would be an appropriate name for this trio of small dogs, who perform the big task of visiting a memory loss facility. Every week, as part of the Love on a Leash therapy dog program in Indianapolis, Indiana, Monica North gathers up Tatiana, Pebbles, and Fiona McSnuggles and heads to work.

“Tatiana was adopted a little over a year ago,” says North. Her former owner sadly took her own life and left three dogs in the hotel room with a letter about them. “Tati was her baby and she wanted her to be well-loved.” With the help of strangers on Facebook, North was able to get the dog from Arizona to Indiana for her new life and home.

Pebbles is a smooth-haired Dachshund who just turned 13, and Fiona McSnuggles (who I got to meet in person) is a longhaired Dachshund North adopted about three years ago. Fiona McSnuggles has no eyes and is a cancer survivor, but she sees with her heart.

Each week, the folks at the memory loss facility enjoy petting the dogs and enjoying canine company. The dogs also visit a retirement facility and a middle school, interacting with people and handing out some puppy loving.

5. Stanley, the innkeeper’s pup

Some hotels accept dogs, and others tolerate them, but Vermont’s Paw House Inn caters to the unique needs of dog owners. As a dog mom who has traveled extensively with her dogs, pet-welcoming establishments make my spine tingle and my dog’s tail wag.

Stanley, the chief proprietor, is a hard-working, multitasking, and most-lovable host, according to Vermont Paw House Inn owner Mitch Frenkenberg. Stanley is a three-year-old rescued terrier mix who adores humans and dogs alike. Stanley began his line of work with the Paw House in the summer of 2011.

Each morning he helps prepare a three-course breakfast, greets and serves his guests, and often helps plan their Vermont adventures. After breakfast, Stanley takes part in welcoming new guests, leading tours with his coworker Brooklyn (a 12-year-old Golden Retriever) throughout the picturesque Vermont countryside, and just making everyone smile. In addition to his many roles at the Paw House, Stanley is also a certified pet-therapy dog with Caring Canines of Vermont.

6. Mr. Pish, the super senior

I have a special spot in my heart for senior pets, and there is no finer example of a dog growing wiser with age than Mr. Pish.

Mr. Pish is the poster dog for outside learning and literacy. He has traveled to 41 states, Washington D.C., and seven provinces of Canada during his campaign. He is the co-author of six children’s books in the Mr. Pish Educational Series. Mr. Pish encourages kids to read, write, and get outside. And how many of us could use a boost to get outdoors and away from our electronic devices?

K.S. Brooks is a novelist, photographer, and mom to Mr. Pish, who continues to surprise as a senior terrier dog.

7. Sinatra the shop dog

Sinatra is a 14-pound French Bulldog who is the official doorman of the Bergino Baseball Clubhouse, a unique baseball-themed establishment in a Greenwich Village, New York City landmark building.

Though small in stature, the dog is extremely friendly, says owner Jay Goldberg, and also mild-mannered and even a bit of a flirt with the ladies. With a name like Sinatra, we would expect nothing less! Donning baseball attire and mingling with customers, Sinatra proves that little dogs are home run hitters, too.

We salute small dogs everywhere who are secretly vying to run the place! Do you know of a small dog who thinks she’s a big dog? Bark at me below in the comments!

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