King Tut: The Dog Who Worried Himself to Death

King Tut helped Herbert Hoover become president, and is said to have died from the stress he had endured while being in the White House.

King Tut & Herbert Hoover

Campaign officials felt a photo of Herbert Hoover (who had never run for office) with his dog King Tut, a Belgian shepherd - commonly known as "police dogs" at the time, would help him win votes. The photo was circulated around the country, and Hoover did win with an overwhelming majority of votes.

That year when Hoover became president, the stock market crashed, causing the country to go into the Great Depression. King Tut was very protective of his family, and over time became overwhelmed with the many visitors to the White House. The stress proved to be too much when King Tut stopped eating, so President Hoover decided to send his dog to a quiet home. According to an article published on August 16, 1929, "Illness has forced King Tut, President Hoover's Belgian police dog to abandon his nightly practice of assisting the White House police in patrolling the grounds of the executive mansion. Tut was taken to the president's fishing preserve in Virginia over the last week-end and shortly after his return developed an ailment which veterinarians diagnosed as stomach trouble. It is thought to be of only a temporary nature and pending his recovery, the dog has been given a comfortable bed in a corner of the White House laundry."

King Tut never improved and passed away at the age of eight in late 1929, earning him the distinction as the presidential dog who "worried himself to death."

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Nelson: Saves Man in Melbourne Flood

Nelson, a Newfoundland, inspired the Australian folk band The Bastard Children to write a song about his heroic act in the 1880s.

Nelson and Bill Higginbotham

Nelson's heroic act occurred on November 15, 1881 when a cabman named Thomas Brown was swept away by flood waters in Melbourne, Australia. According to the Melbourne Herald in 1931 (50 years after the event), "Close to the gutter, which was a torrent five feet deep, seething to a culvert 50 yards down the hill, a cabman was trying to keep his horse still while waiting for his passengers. At length he clambered down to quieten the beast, and at that moment it tossed its head and knocked him insensible into the gutter. In a moment he was being swept down toward the culvert."

William John (Bill) Higginbotham and his dog Nelson heard Brown's cries for help. By nature, Newfoundlands are water dogs. Their muscular build, thick double coat and webbed feet make them excellent swimmers in rough conditions. Nelson jumped into the stream and caught hold of Brown's clothing. Because of the force of the water, the dog could not keep his grip and Brown swept quickly down the block. This happened a few more times before Nelson, Bill and another man were able to haul Brown out of the water. The cabman's clothes were badly torn, believed to be a result from Nelson's efforts to catch hold of him.

Nelson was presented with a silver dog collar for his heroism. According to Bill's son Charles, "Nelson never fully recovered from the effects of the choking struggle in the culvert, although he was able to take part in the annual procession of the Albion Fire Brigade six months later, and half the city turned out to see him presented with a silver collar for his part in the rescue." The collar can be found in the National Museum of Australia.

Nelson the Newfoundland


Daisy: Blondie and Dagwood's Dog

When the popular comic strip Blondie started its long-running film series (1938-1950), Spooks played the part of the family dog Daisy.

Penny Singleton (Blondie), Spooks (Daisy) and Arthur Lake (Dagwood)

Spooks, a male cocker spaniel/poodle/terrier mix, was born around 1937 and belonged to Rennie Renfro. Renfro, an animal trainer, rescued the dog from an LA animal shelter and gave him the name Spooks because of his timidness. With the help of Rudd Weatherwax, the famous dog trainer who trained Lassie, the nervous dog went on to appear in over 50 films - Blondie being the most well-known. Spooks had a great personality and was able to express a number of emotions ranging from excitement to fear.

Spook did 27 of the 28 Blondie films, and became known as Daisy to Renfro and the world. In the episode Blondie's Blessed Event (1942), Daisy gives birth to five puppies. Daisy fathered many puppies, but none of the dogs portraying the puppies were claimed to be of relation to him. Other films Daisy appeared in include National Velvet (1944), Follow the Boys (1944), Hollywood & Vine (1945) and The Red Stallion (1947).

Daisy (Spooks) passed away in 1955 at about the age of 17, and his body was cremated.


Argos: Odysseus' Faithful Dog

Argos, the only one to recognize Odysseus when he returned home, lived long enough to see his master before passing on.

Odysseus and Argos

Odysseus was a legendary Greek king of Ithaca and one of the most influential Greek heroes during the Trojan War. He spent 10 years fighting in Troy, having left his wife Penelope, his newborn son Telemachus and his dog Argos behind, and another 10 years getting back to his homeland. Before returning to his home, he disguised himself as a beggar so he could spring a surprise attack on Penelope's suitors who had taken over his home.

When Odysseus approached his home, he saw his dog Argos lying neglected on a pile of cow manure and infested with fleas. Immediately, Argos recognized his master. According to an excerpt from the Odyssey:

As soon as he saw Odysseus standing there, he dropped his ears and wagged his tail, but he could not get close up to his master [being old and weak]. When Odysseus saw the dog on the other side of the yard, dashed a tear from his eyes without Eumaios [a close friend of his who did not recognize him] seeing it, and said:

'Eumaios, what a noble hound is that is over yonder on the manure heap: his build is splendid; is he as fine a fellow as he looks, or is he only one of those dogs that come begging about a table, and are kept merely for show?'

'This dog,' answered Eumaios, 'belonged to him who has died in a far country. If he were what he was when Odysseus left for Troy, he would soon show you what he could do. There was not a wild beast in the forest that could get away from him when he was once on its tracks. But now he has fallen on evil times, for his master is dead and gone, and the women take no care of him. Servants never do their work when their master's hand is no longer over them, for Zeus takes half the goodness out of a man when he makes a slave of him.'

So saying he entered the well-built mansion and made straight for the riotous pretenders in the hall. But Argos passed into the darkness of death, now that he had fulfilled his destiny of faith and seen his master once more after twenty years.

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Bonneau: A WWI Dog Who Belonged to a Poet

Bonneau was a stray dog in France during WWI, and was adopted by the famous poet John McCrae.

Bonneau & John McCrae

John McCrae, the writer of the war poem In Flanders Fields, served in WWI as a medical officer. He worked in the trenches, treating the injured. McCrae loved animals, and his adopted dog Bonneau would accompany him as he tended to the soldiers.

The fate of Bonneau isn’t known.


The Dogs in Saint Patrick's Life

According to St. Patrick's own writings and a bit of mythology, dogs played a big part in his life.

Around 400 AD, 16 year old Patrick was forcibly taken from his home in Briton by Irish marauders, was taken to Ireland where he was sold into slavery, and was forced to work as a shepherd. He spent six years there with little or no company other than a sheepdog and the flock of sheep.

Patrick spent a lot of time talking to God and the sheepdog, and both talked back to him. It was the dog, disguised as an angel in his dream, who told Patrick to escape and board a ship that was over 200 miles away to carry him back home. He did escape, and after a long and exhausting journey, he made it to the ship, a ship carrying a lot of stolen Irish wolfhounds. Patrick's pleas to board the ship were refused, until one man noticed how the giant, frantic and furious dogs calmed down when Patrick arrived. It was decided that he could go, as long as he would help care for the dogs.

Instead of heading to Patrick's home, the ship set sail for the European mainland, where the men could get a high price on the dogs. However, food rations were going fast and the crew ended up abandoning the ship in the middle of nowhere in Gaul (now known as France). The food ran out, and soon everyone was starving. The ship's crew, all pagans, taunted Patrick to ask his God for help. Patrick prayed that night, and the next morning a herd of wild pigs appeared from the forest. The pagans converted to Christianity, and Patrick became a priest.

After about 20 years, Patrick had another dream telling him to return to Ireland. He did, and upon his arrival, he was met by a powerful pagan prince named Dichu who was out hunting with his Wolfhound. Dichu commanded his dog to attack Patrick, but when the dog lunged, he stopped in his tracks and licked Patrick's outstretched hand.

According to Irish folklore, St. Patrick repaid all the dogs by allowing the legendary Irish hero Oissain to take them to heaven with him.