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Sunday, 26 October 2014

Dogs in History

The dog was the first of man's domesticated animals.  A 50,000-year-old cave painting in Europe seems to show a dog-like animal hunting with men.

The Ancient Egyptians adopted the dog, calling it by individual names. Early hieroglyphic signs refer to it by the syllables b and w which anticipated by thousands of years the children's custom of speaking of the dog as a bow wow.

Egyptian beliefs portrayed dogs as companions of their master at home and in the field. Mummified bodies of dogs were found in Egyptian graves, showing how they venerated the canine species.

Abuwtiyuw is one of the earliest domestic animals whose name is known. A lightly built Egyptian hunting dog similar to a greyhound, with erect ears and a curly tail, he is believed to have been a royal guard dog of the 6th Dynasty (2345–2181 BC). He received an elaborate ceremonial burial in the Giza Necropolis at the behest of an unknown pharaoh.

The Egyptians were  responsible for developing many breeds by crossing dogs with foxes, jackals, and wolves

The first dogs to hunt in packs and the first small companion breeds were probably bred in ancient China. Written records more than 4,000 years old from China show that dog trainers were held in high esteem and that kennel masters raised and looked after large numbers of dog.

Andean tribes around Peru in 1000 BC used to eat dogs, a custom that was condemned by the royal Incas.

The Persians loved the dog so much that anyone killing one was severely punished.

Homer, the Greek author of the Odyssey in the 9th century BC, is believed to be one of the first to write about dogs. They were mentioned often in his classic epic.

Homer described how when Odysseus arrived home after an absence of 20 years, disguised as a beggar, the only one to recognize him was his aged dog Argos, who wagged his tail at his master, and then died.

The ancient Greeks believed that the gates of the underworld were guarded by a savage three-headed dog named Cerberus. The belief might have been derived from the widespread practice in Greece of using watchdogs.

Alexander the Great had a faithful dog, Peritas, named after the Macedonian name for the month of January. It is thought that Peritas, who Alexander raised from a puppy, was one of the now-extinct Mollosian breed, a sort of giant Rottweiler. When the conqueror was fighting the army of Darius III of Persia , Peritas leaped forward and bit the lip of an elephant charging his master. The loyal mutt was rewarded by having a city named after him.

It is likely that herding dogs were brought to England by Julius Caesar during his 55 BC invasion and that specimens were left behind and interbred with the local dogs.

The ancient Romans relied on watchdogs. So many dogs were kept in the larger Roman cities that any house with a watchdog was required to have a sign warning "Cave Canem" (Beware the Dog).

The Romans also used dogs for military purposes, some as attack dogs and some as messengers.

The greater Swiss mountain dog originated by Roman armies, who left it behind in Switzerland, where it was used as draft dog for pulling carts or sleds.

The once popular dog name “Fido” is from Latin and means “fidelity.”

Saur, or Suening was a dog that was "king" of Norway for three years during the 11th century AD. The Norwegian king, angry that his subjects once deposed him, put Saur on the throne and demanded that it be treated regally.

By the Middle Ages dogs wore coats of mail just as knights did.

Some of the most popular dog names in Medieval times were Nosewise, Smylfeste, Bragge, and Holdfast.

The only dog required to appear on stage in a play by Shakespeare is Launce’s dog, which is called Crab, in The Two Gentlemen Of Verona.

A Mr John Pickard was appointed “Dogwhipper” in Exeter Cathedral, England in the mid 19th century. The office of dogwhipper was to keep order among the sheepdogs and other working dogs that were bought to church by their owners and if need be eject any particularly woofsome canines. This had been a common appointment.

The "Turnspit Dog" was a now extinct dog that was short-legged, long-bodied and bred to run on a wheel that would turn meat over a fire. They were also used as foot warmers in church and Queen Victoria kept retired turnspit dogs as pets.

In 1860 Mrs Mary Tealby founded a 'Temporary Home for Lost and Starving Dogs' in Holloway, and in 1871 it moved to its present premises in Battersea.

Abraham Lincoln's pet dog Fido, was the first Presidential mutt to be photographed in 1861.


The Kennel Club was founded in 1873, the oldest and first official registry of purebred dogs in the world.

When the Titanic sank in 1912, three dogs survived. They were traveling in the first class cabins with their owners. Two were Pomeranians.

The first dog to star in an American movie was Jean the Vitagraph Dog, a Border Collie mix, who made his first film in 1910.

In 1924 in Japan, the dog Hachikō waited every day for his owner Ueno to return from work. Even after Ueno suddenly passed away, Hachikō visited the station every day for nine years, nine months and fifteen days, awaiting his return.

President Calvin Coolidge described his beloved white collie Rob Roy as a "stately gentleman of great courage and fidelity".

Rob Roy

Balto (1919 – March 14, 1933) was a Siberian husky and sled dog who led his team on the final leg of the 1925 serum run to Nome, Alaska in which diphtheria antitoxin was transported to combat an outbreak of the disease. Balto was present for the unveiling of his own statue in Central Park on December 17, 1925.

A dog called Rover (real name Blair) was the first British film star. The sensationally popular film Rescued by Rover resulted in many puppies being christened by that name.

The first dog movie star was Rin Tin Tin who signed his own contracts for the 22 films he made with a paw print.

The american rock group Blondie named themselves after Hitler’s dog Blondi.

Laika, a stray dog from the streets of Moscow, was selected to be the occupant of the Soviet spacecraft Sputnik II  and become the first living creature in space. Launched on November 3, 1957. Sputnik II was the second spacecraft launched into Earth orbit. The dog died when Sputnik's air supply ran out; no provision had been made for recovering the craft.

Soccer's World Cup trophy was stolen in London in the run-up to the 1966 World Cup but rediscovered under a bush by a dog named Pickles. When England won the trophy, Pickles was invited to the celebration banquet as a reward.

Pickles died the following year when he was strangled by his choke chain lead that caught on a tree while he was chasing a cat.

Source From Compton's Interactive Encyclopedia © 1998 The Learning Company, Inc.

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