Even Mars and Venus Had A Dog Companion
Dogs and Humans
From heroic K-9 and search and rescue dogs to loyal watchers like Hachiko and Greyfriars Bobby, to the famous like Beautiful Joe and Paul Pry, to film and TV stars like Lassie and Rin Tin Tin, and to all the rescued and ordinary faithful lap and couch family dogs across the world, canines have proven their loyalty, friendship, and unconditional love for the human race.
Even when the Italian oil painter Paolo Veronese (1528-1588) painted Mars and Venus, he included a little lapdog right there with Cupid at the feet of the lovers. Perhaps men are from Mars and women do hail from Venus; nonetheless, it is a dog who helps Cupid bring them together, a dog who loves them equally and teaches them to love not only each other, but themselves as well.
In Veronese's painting, the couple gaze at the dog, who wags his tail and clearly does the talking: "Pick me up. I want to be loved, and I want to be with loving people." What else could possibly be Veronese's intention with this painting? He was saying the dog is part of the love triangle, and the dog is staying with the house no matter who goes!
Dog History Disputed
British painter Sir Edwin Landseer (1802-1873) is still the undisputed champion of dogs in paint, Queen Victoria's favorite painter of animals, particularly dogs, and a man mourned publicly when he died.
Landseer, a master painter of the sentimental dog expression, is credited with inventing the barrel of brandy slung around the neck of the St. Bernard, as he first included that small, supposedly life-giving barrel in his 1820 painting entitled "Alpine Mastiffs Reanimating a Traveller".
Musicians, painters, and writers claim their chief job is to entertain before inform. Most of them do that in whatever manner seems to fit. They create. The public interprets. Thus, is born the disputed history of beginnings.
According to Richard Dawes, writer of The Dog Lover's Companion, A Book of Dog Days and Dog Ways, Sir Edwin capitulated to the beauty of a black and white Newfoundland upon first glance in 1838. The dog's name was Paul Pry, claims Dawes. Undisputed is the fact that Sir Edwin dedicated the painting "A Distinguished Member of the Humane Society" to Britain's Royal Humane Society, but who is the dog model used for the painting?
The painting became so popular that the black and white Newfoundland henceforth became known as the Landseer. They have a grayish white coat. Some Newfies are black with an auburn tint and a few white marking hairs on the chest and feet. Others are black and white in wide stripings, and some are brown-coated.
The Landseer painting itself was damaged while on loan in America from a flooding incident. Restored, the painting, originally presented to the Tate Collection in 1887 by Newman Smith, then went on display in 2003 at the Philadelphia Museum of Art.
If "Bob" was the model for the painting created in 1831, according to other sources, the dog was a hero who rescued people from the sea on a regular basis. Survivor of a shipwreck himself, he showed up in London, it's said, and pulled some 23 wet persons to land over a duration of 14 years.
What is known for certain is that Newfoundlands usually take to the water and are rescue prone. They even drag partying people out of swimming pools! The famous Newfie Maas was trained to jump from a helicopter (as seen in the movie "Must Love Dogs") to save humans in peril in the water. Newfies originate from Labrador and Newfoundland and are trained to water work. Giants in stature, they float like balloons.
What Is Loyalty?
The dictionary describes loyalty as remaining faithful to one's allegiance, government, friends, or oath. But it doesn't mention that a dog knows how to do this better than any human being born.
Imagine returning to a train station every day at the same position for nine years to greet a master who no longer lives. Or guarding the gravesite of a lost loved one for 14 years before one's own death.
A Border Collie named Shep remained for six years at Fort Benton, Montana, train station after his master's coffin was whisked from the location in 1936.
And Spot, a Great Dane, was recorded returning daily for more than five months to the place where his Lone Oak, Texas, owner was killed in a traffic accident in November of 2010.
These are just a few of the documented stories of dogs who lost their masters but refused to lose heart, in which their humans lived on eternally.
Lost dogs have returned to their homes after months and even years of absence. They travel hundreds of miles to do this, or through blocks and blocks of city traffic. Love and loyalty drive them to get home, to see again the humans with whom they have inexplicably bonded.
Dogs, it seems, have one goal -- to love and be loved by those who choose them.
Beautiful Joe"was rescued from an abusive owner and inspired a bestselling novel.
Lad the Collie was the subject of three novels by his owner Albert Payson Terhune.
Famous author John Steinbeck wrote about his dog, Charley, in Travels With Charley.
What dog lover of the 21st Century hasn't heard about Marley, the incorrigible Lab endeared to millions by his owner who wrote Marley and Me?
Jack London brought to light the possibility of taming a wild wolf-dog with kindness and patience.
The Darling family had Nana, a babysitting Newfoundland created by J.M. Barrie, author of Peter Pan.
All family dogs have their own stories to tell, and many well-known musicians, writers, and painters have lauded the loyalty and selfless companionship of which dogs are capable by using their own pets as models and protagonists.
The more I see of men the more I love dogs.
(Attributed to Madame de Sevigne: 1626-'96 and Frederick the Great of Prussia: 1712-'86)
Brothers and Sisters, I bid you beware
Of giving your heart to a dog to tear.
(The Power of a Dog, by Rudyard Kipling: 1865-1936)
The great pleasure of a dog is that you may make a fool of yourself with him and not only will he not scold you, but he will make a fool of himself too.
(Samuel Butler: 1835-1902)
Now thou art dead, no eye shall ever see
For shape and service spaniel like to thee.
This shall my love do, give thy sad death one
Tear, that deserves of me a million.
(Upon my Spaniel, Tracie, by Robert Herrick: 1591-1674)
If you pick up a starving dog and make him prosperous, he will not bite you; that is the principal difference between a man and a dog.
(Mark Twain -- Samuel Langhorne Clemens: 1835-1910)
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