If television has taught us anything, it's that heroes can come in all shapes and sizes. Sometimes they're dog-shaped.
In fact, despite having a lifespan shorter than an average Mazda 626, some dogs have managed to accomplish more than most of us could ever hope to. Dogs like...
Stubby, a terrier mix, was found on the Yale campus in 1917 and smuggled aboard the USS Minnesota by his owner, John Robert Conroy, to fight in WWI, making Stubby the only thing from Yale to ever contribute anything to society.
Fuck you, Eli Whitney, and your cotton gin.
Stubby officially entered service February 5, 1918, and fought in the French trenches for 18 months, presumably because the Army's recruiting quota was desperately behind schedule. He was one of the many war dog of WWI, which were used to keep morale up in the trenches by being adorable.
"You know what this war needs?"
"Ooh a puppy!"
"A puppy! Yes, I was just gonna say."
Not content with merely joining the Army and surviving a World War, Stubby the dog also managed to become a bonafide hero. You see, "Sergeant" wasn't just some cutesy name he was given, oh no. He actually earned that rank, meaning a cadre of superior officers decided he was eligible for promotion over other qualified, battle-hardened human beings. Why?
One, he was able to warn his unit of incoming artillery attacks thanks to his dog-hearing, and after being hit by a chlorine attack he became very sensitive to the smell of gas. So much so that he could accurately detect it in the air before it hit lethal dosage, barking like a maniac until the soldiers put their masks on.
Stubby also managed to save many people from "no-mans land," the open stretches of land between trenches, by listening for people shouting in English and then either leading medics to the wounded or guiding the wounded back to their trench. If they were speaking German he would presumably stab them with a bayonet he had clenched in his jaws.
All he asks for in return is your support. And snausages.
Most amazingly, Stubby managed to capture a German spy single-handedly, uncovering the bastard hiding in a bush in no-man's land and making a map of the Allied trenches. Stubby started barking to alert the Allied soldiers, and when the spy ran, Stubby chased him down and bit the shit out of him, subduing him until the Allied soldiers arrived. Not to take anything from Stubby's accomplishment, but we feel this must have been the worst German spy in the history of the world.
Togo the Siberian Husky
Togo was the lead sled dog of a team owned by a man named Leonhard Seppala, a Norwegian that worked for a mining company in Alaska presumably because Norway wasn't providing enough different ways for him to freeze to death.
"Just put the A/C in the corner by the ice block. Oh and don't look, I'm naked."
In 1925, a huge outbreak of diphtheria erupted in remote Alaska, and since there weren't exactly a whole lot of roads available, the only way to deliver medicine was by dog sled. Togo was made the leader of a trip to cross the frozen tundra of Alaska to deliver the antitoxin, braving -35 (Celsius) degree weather with a -65 (Celsius) degree wind chill and a terrible selection of satellite radio stations. And he did it across 84 miles in a single day.
That night, Togo slept for just six hours before heading out again at 2am in a balmy -80(Celsius) degree headwind, journeying along an ice-laden shoreline that was breaking beneath his feet before finally giving the serum to the next team, a plucky group of huskies led by a dog named Balto.
Yes, even though Togo traveled a much longer distance under more extreme conditions, Balto got the cartoon because he happened to be the one that brought the medicine the rest of the way. Fuck him.
Smoky the Yorkshire Terrier
Smoky was a Yorkshire Terrier that was found in an abandoned foxhole in New Guinea in 1944 by American soldiers, who made the logical choice of taking him with them because fuck it, dogs are cute.
He outranks you too... IN CUTENESS!
But seriously, he's your superior officer.
More noteworthy than surviving three years in a war-torn jungle as one of the least threatening animals on the planet is how Smoky managed to do it with approximately the same level of resources as a Dickensian orphan and still avoid being bombed to death 150 times.
"I don't care if it takes 300 bombs, we are killing this dog."
Because Smoky was not an "official" war dog, the Army would not feed him or even give him medical aid if he got shot, possibly due to fact that Smoky was a loose cannon and was making the department look bad. So his owner shared his rations and kept Smoky in his tent, which worked out for the owner's benefit. While on a transport ship, Smoky guided his owner to cover after hearing the whistle of incoming artillery shells over the booming of the ship's cannons.
Smoky also took part in a parachute jump which history has chosen not to explain.
Yep, it's official. This is the greatest picture we've ever run on Cracked.
Actually, looking at that picture, we're not sure an explanation is needed. We're picturing a room full of military men, saying nothing, just nodding to each other and quietly strapping a parachute to a dog. The only possible objection would involve whether or not the camera was in the right position.
Guinefort was a greyhound owned by a French knight in the 13th century and, just to be clear, is an actual saint, despite the Church's insistence that dogs have no souls.
One day, the knight went hunting and left his infant child in the care of Guinefort the dog, which is exactly the kind of decision French people usually make. When he returned, his house was torn up, his baby was missing, and Guinefort's face was covered in blood like Al Roker at a meat packing plant.
Assuming Guinefort had eaten his kid, the knight chopped the dog's head off, only to find the baby safely in a corner of the room next to the mutilated corpse of a viper.
The knight and his family were so distressed about killing their faithful friend that they buried him in a well and built a shrine around it, and Guinefort became a saint for infants, protecting them from the evils of the world. However, a disturbing cult sprang around him with insane rituals that seem to confuse "protecting infants" with "setting infants on fire" as described in a book called De Supersticione: On St. Guinefort:
... mothers took the baby and placed it naked at the foot of the tree on the straws of a cradle, lit at both ends two candles a thumbs breadth thick with fire they had brought with them and fastened them on the trunk above. Then, while the candles were consumed, they went far enough away that they could neither hear nor see the child. In this way the burning candles burned up and killed a number of babies, as we have heard from others in the same place.
"We have excellent day care facilities."
So to recap:
Dog: Performs selfless act that saves a human life.
Human: Kills dog for its trouble.
Other humans: Kill babies in dog's memory.
Yeah they really should be keeping us as pets.
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