Flyer and Scipio: The Wright Brothers' Dogs

Orville and Wilbur Wright, the famous American aviation pioneers who made the world's first powered flight in 1903, loved dogs.


The Wright brothers' lives were so busy, neither had time to date or marry but they did find time to include a dog in their lives.

In 1908, the Wright brothers were ready to show the world their flying machine. They built two planes. Orville would take one to show the US Army and Wilbur would take the other to France to show the public. Wilbur's plane was damaged when it got to France so he had to spend days in a shed rebuilding it. While there, a stray dog approached Wilbur and the two became friends. Wilbur adopted the dog and named him Flyer. Orville later met up with Wilbur, and for the next year the brothers and Flyer would travel Europe showing off their plane. When they headed back to the US, Wilbur felt it was best to leave Flyer with their European business agent Hart O. Berg and his wife Edith. Wilbur died a few years later in 1912 at the age of 45.

Scipio and Orville

Later in life, Orville bought a St. Bernard puppy for $75. His sister named the dog Scipio after the Roman general who is best known for defeating Hannibal at the Battle of Zama in 202 BC. Apparently, Orville was very fond of his dog because when he died in 1948 (15 years after Scipio died), there were still pictures of his St. Bernard in his wallet.

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Cap: Florence Nightingale's First Patient

It was Cap, a sheepdog, who inspired Florence Nightingale to become a nurse and make huge changes to the now professional field.

In 1837, some mischievous boys threw stones at a sheepdog who was napping on a doorstep. One stone hit his leg, causing so much pain that the dog could not put his leg down on the ground. Roger, the shepherd that owned the dog named Cap, knew his leg had to be broken and he would no longer be able to perform his job taking care of the sheep. Because Roger was so poor, he could not afford to keep the dog as a pet so his plan was to hang him.

Seventeen year old Florence Nightingale, who lived nearby and knew both Roger and Cap, and a local clergyman stopped by Roger's place and learned about the dog. The clergyman examined Cap's leg and told the others the dog did not have a broken bone. It was just badly bruised and warm compresses could help him get better. Florence took great care of Cap, applying warm compresses made of old flannel to his injured leg. She did this daily, and in no time Cap was back to his normal self.

The work she performed was gratifying, and Florence believed this was a sign from God telling her to devote her life to healing others. She later trained as a nurse, and went on to turn nursing into a respectable profession.