Brownie: Daytona Beach's Town Dog

Brownie became famous around the US as the Town Dog of Daytona Beach during the mid 1900s.

In 1939 a tan puppy of plain looks and a very kind heart was born. He had no home but by the following year he became the dog who belonged to the town of Daytona Beach on Florida's Atlantic coast. The first to welcome him was Ed Budgen, the owner of the Daytona Cab Company. The owner and his drivers took an instant liking to the pup, which they named Brownie, and soon built him a dog house that sat outside their building.

It didn't take long for Brownie to become a favorite among the townspeople. He would play with the children during the day and often accompany the police officers on their patrols at night. He would have his picture taken with tourists, sit with people waiting for a cab or bus, and help lift spirits of those who were feeling sad. According to an interview by the Daytona Beach News-Journal in 2016, Fayn LeVeille (one of the children who played with Brownie) described Brownie as "a very special animal, one that you might only meet once in a lifetime and that when he looked into your eyes it was as if he could see right through to your soul."

One day Brownie was hit by a car that broke his hip. Many chipped in to pay his vet bill and the town's dog made a full recovery. To help pay for his food, vet bills and dog license, a coin jar was placed next to his dog house where locals and tourists could donate money. So much money was received that Budgen opened an account for Brownie at the Florida Bank & Trust (now the Halifax Historical Museum).

Brownie's popularity became known around the country. His story appeared in national newspapers and magazines, and every year he would receive Christmas cards and gifts from fans all over the US. Brownie lived a long and happy life. He died of old age on Halloween in 1954, and the community was heartbroken. He was given a funeral which many people attended, including the town's Mayor who delivered the eulogy. "Brownie was indeed a good dog," said Mayor Jack Tamm. He was buried in Riverfront Park under a granite slab that reads "The Town Dog, A Good Dog".


Pompey: The Dog Who Saved William the Silent's Life

According to legend, Pompey became famous in history for saving his master, the Prince of Orange, from assassins during battle.

William I, Prince of Orange (also known as William the Silent) was a Dutch leader at the beginning of the Eighty Years' War for independence from Spain. One night in 1572 the Prince was asleep in his camp's tent during the Siege of Mons with his dog Pompey at his side. When assassins attempted to sneak up to the Prince's tent, Pompey barked, scratched and finally jumped on his master's head to warn him of the intruders. The Prince managed to escape death that night; however, in 1584 he was not that fortunate. While walking down the stairs in his home in Delft, Balthasar GĂ©rard (who regarded the Prince as a traitor to the Catholic religion) shot and killed him. It is said Pompey grieved for his master and died three days later. The tomb of William the Silent with his beloved dog Pompey at the foot of his bed was designed by a Dutch sculptor named Hendrick de Keyser in the early 1600s.


Cairo: Part of Navy SEAL Team that Killed Osama bin Laden

Cairo became famous as the dog who participated in the raid (Operation Neptune Spear) that killed the notorious leader of al-Qaeda, the organization that was responsible for the 9/11 attacks on the US.

The deadliest terrorist attack on American soil in US history happened on September 11, 2001 when 19 militants belonging to al-Qaeda caused extensive death and destruction in New York City, Washington DC and Pennsylvania. After the attacks, hundreds of dogs helped man during this difficult time. Ten years later, one dog named Cairo (a Belgian Malinois) helped man bring justice to the man responsible for the attacks - Osama bin Laden.

On May 2, 2011 bin Laden was killed shortly after 1:00 am PKT after two Black Hawk helicopters carrying Navy SEALs from Team Six, a Pakistani-American translator, and Cairo landed (one was a crash landing) outside the Pakistan compound where the al-Qaeda leader lived. The SEALs brought Cairo along to detect bombs, search out concealed enemies and find secret doors or passageways in the compound. When the helicopter crashed, the task list changed. Cairo, along with four SEALs and translator, was used to help secure the perimeter around the dwelling while six other SEALs stormed the compound. Thirty-eight minutes later bin Laden was shot dead.

Navy SEAL dogs are trained at a very early age to perform missions by sea, air and land. They can swim, parachute and rappel into action, and are as well-equipped as their human teammates. On the night of the raid, Cairo wore a customized body vest made of Kevlar with a night vision camera, radio and other attachable gadgets - costing close to $30,000.

"The capability they [the dogs] bring to the fight cannot be replicated by man or machine," said General David Petraeus in 2011. "By all measures of performance, their yield outperforms any asset we have in our industry. Our Army would be remiss if we failed to invest more in this incredibly valuable resource."

Four days after the raid, in a private ceremony honoring Seal Team Six, the squadron commander mentioned Cairo's role to President Obama. "There was a dog?" Obama interrupted. The President was told that Cairo was in an adjoining room, and Obama said "I want to meet that dog." "If you want to meet the dog, Mr. President, I advise you to bring treats," the commander joked. The President met Cairo. I am not sure if he had a treat to give, but he did pet the heroic dog.

Time magazine awarded Cairo its prestigious Animal of the Year award in 2011.