Kublai Khan's 5000 Dogs

Some 5000 dogs became famous in history in Marco Polo's writing, the most dogs ever owned by one person - Kublai Khan.

When Marco Polo, an Italian explorer and writer, travelled through Asia, he wrote about the many dogs Kublai Khan, the fifth Khagan (Great Khan) of the Mongol Empire, owned. He described the small dogs (the Tibetan Spaniel) as "little golden-coated dogs nimble dogs." The other breed, the majority of his dogs, he described as "tall as a donkey with a voice as powerful as a lion. Strong enough to hunt all sorts of wild beasts particularly the wild oxen which are extremely large and fierce." These dogs were the Tibetan Mastiff.

The mastiffs were used for war and hunting, and were cared for by two men who were brothers. "The Emperor hath two Barons who are own brothers, one called Baian and the other Mingan; and these two are styled Chimtchi (or Cunichi) which is as much as to say, 'The Keepers of the Mastiff Dogs'." Marco Polo goes on to describe the hunt. "And when the Prince goes a-hunting, one of those Barons, with his 10,000 men and something like 5000 dogs, goes towards the right, whilst the other goes towards the left with his party in like manner. They move along, all abreast of one another, so that the whole line extends over a full day's journey, and no animal can escape them. Truly it is a glorious sight to see the working of the dogs and the huntsmen on such an occasion! And as the Lord rides a-fowling across the plains, you will see these big hounds coming tearing up, one pack after a bear, another pack after a stag, or some other beast, as it may hap, and running the game down now on this side and now on that, so that it is really a most delightful sport and spectacle."

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Prince: Faithful WWI Dog

Prince became famous for following his beloved master to the frontlines of France during the First World War.

In September 1914, Private James Brown joined the war, leaving behind his wife and his dog Prince, a half Irish terrier half collie mix. That following November, Prince disappeared. Brown's wife searched for the missing dog, but when he was nowhere to be found, she wrote a letter to her husband about the unfortunate news.

Shortly after receiving his wife's letter, about 4-5 days after the dog's disappearance, Prince was once again by his master's side. According to a soldier's letter in a museum magazine, "Here the unexpected happened for on that day Prince's old master, also passing through and seeing a dog which looked very much like his own, called to him and was quickly assured that it was none other than the old friend of the Battalion." Prince managed to make his way from Hammersmith, London (across the channel) to the trenches in northern France.

Prince became the mascot to Brown's regiment, as well as a ratter, and continued to stay after Brown returned home. At the end of the war, the RSPCA reunited the dog with his master. Prince passed away a couple of years later in 1921.

Prince's story is recorded in a 1917 poem A Soldier's Dog written by a Captain Newell, who sadly died during an airstrike in 1918. 

Prince's story can also be found in the book Death Pennies of the Lost Generation by Wayne Starr.

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Axelrod: Flying A's Worried Mascot

Axelrod, a Basset Hound, was famous in the 1960s for his worried look.

Flying A was a major gasoline brand from the 1930s to the 1960s. The theme for their advertising was not to worry as they will take care of your car's needs, and in the 1960s Axelrod became the perfect mascot because of his naturally worried look. He appeared in print ads in the Saturday Evening Post and in television commercials during sports events by his A-shaped doghouse with sayings like, "When it comes to your car...oooh, do we worry!" In 1966, Phillips Petroleum Co. bought out Flying A and Axelrod retired.