The symbiotic relationship between dogs and humans is unlike most cross-species relationships. In nature, it’s quite common for different species to develop a give-and-take relationship that benefits both parties. The two organisms create this symbiotic relationship because they are stronger together than apart, and after generations of evolution they are genetically programmed to cooperate. Dogs and humans have one of those symbiotic relationships – dogs are nicknamed ‘man’s best friend’ for a reason – but with a twist.
Before dogs even existed, they were wolves. Wild, vicious, murderous wolves. At some point – tens of thousands of years ago – some of the less temperamental wolves made the decision to hang around tribes of early humans. These clever wolves realized they could survive by feeding off the scraps that tribes of humans left behind, which they did successfully for many years. After enough time had passed, these scavenger wolves became closer to humans than they were to their original wolf packs. The wolves that stayed with humans were eventually bred and put to work in various ways, and consequently their physical appearance changed.
As ancestral canine – and ancestral humans – began to change, so did the nature of our relationship with them. We stopped putting them to work as much and started keeping them around because we simply liked the company. The vast majority of people who have dogs today don’t have them because they put them to work, but rather because they have a sense of affection and genuine love for their canine companions.
Generations of experience with dogs tells us that the love is certainly reciprocal. Dogs are some of the most caring, loyal friends that anyone can have. There are countless tales of dogs who demonstrate loyalty above and beyond what most humans are capable of providing, and today we’ll celebrate the lives of some of the most loyal dogs to ever befriend humans. These are the 10 of the most loyal dogs ever.
#10 Lao Pan’s Dog
Lao Pan was an unmarried Chinese man who had a normal, unremarkable life. He had no wealth, no significant social status, and not many friends or family. What he did have though, was the love of a dog. Lao Pan and his dog developed an extremely close bond that would be put on display to the Chinese public in 2011. Lao Pan passed away at the age of 68, and was buried in his native village of Panjiatun. His dog stayed true to his master to the end and beyond, remaining at his gravesite without food and water for days. After villagers noticed that the dog refused to leave the gravesite – even after they attempted to coax him away with food – they began providing the dog with food and water at the gravesite, even building him a kennel.
Hawkeye was a military dog who developed a powerful bond with his master, Jon Tomlinson. Tomlinson was an American Navy SEAL who was killed in action when his Chinook helicopter was shot down in 2011. Hawkeye became famous across the world when a picture of Tomlinson’s military funeral went viral. In the middle of the ceremony, Hawkeye walked up to the casket and collapsed with a sigh next to the body of his beloved master. The bond between master and dog went on display for the whole world to see, in all its heartbreaking glory. Fortunately Hawkeye was adopted by one of Tomlinson’s friends, so we know he’s in good hands today.
#8 Greyfriars Bobby
Bobby was a dog in Edinburgh who spent 14 years by his old master’s grave, all the way up until his own death in 1872. Bobby got his full name from the name of the cemetery where he stood vigil, Greyfriars Kirk, which was in the Old Town section of Edinburgh. Word of Bobby’s exploits spread around town, and at the time of his death he was a local celebrity. A statue was erected to celebrate Bobby’s exploits, which still stands to this day at the spot where he stood guard.
Theo was a military dog who was deployed in Afghanistan along with his partner and owner, Lance Corporal Liam Tasker. Tasker was a sniper in the British army while Theo was his bomb sniffing companion. When Tasker was killed in action in March 2011, Theo was distraught. Once Tasker’s body was collected and Theo was brought back to base, he suffered a seizure that proved fatal. Doctors attributed the sudden seizure to the stress of losing his owner. Both owner and dog set the record for most bombs found and disarmed during their deployment. Theo was posthumously awarded the Dickin Medal, which is the animal equivalent of the Victoria Cross in the British military.
Capitán, a german shepherd, belonged to Argentinian Manuel Guzman. When Guzman died in 2006 his family began to care for Capitán, but soon after Guzman’s death Capitán went missing. When they visited Guzman’s grave a few weeks later, they were stunned to find Capitán there, waiting. Incredibly, they claimed he had never been brought to the gravesite before and had no idea how he correctly identified the grave of his deceased master. Since then Capitán has gone back and forth between the family and Guzman’s grave, living off the food they give him and scraps that the cemetery staff feed him – but he always returns to the grave at night so his master doesn’t sleep alone.
Omar Eduardo Rivera was a blind man who was caught up in one of the worst situations possible. He worked on the 71st floor of the World Trade Center, and clocked in to work as usual on the morning of September 11th, 2001. Once the first plane hit the tower, he knew that they were all in grave danger. He didn’t believe he could make it out in the frantic rush, so he released his seeing eye dog, Dorado, and commanded him to leave so he had a chance to survive. Although he initially obeyed his master, 10 minutes later Rivera felt a familiar brush of fur next to his leg. Dorado had returned, and together with a coworker of Rivera’s guided him down the 70 flights of stairs, which took close to a full hour. Soon after they escaped the building collapsed, and Rivera states that he owes his life to the loyalty of his dog.
#4 Bud Nelson
Bud Nelson is one of history’s most famous dogs, partially thanks to his actual accomplishments and partially thanks to the pictures of him wearing goggles that have become synonymous with his name. His owner, Horatio Nelson Jackson, was the first man to drive an automobile across the continental United States. In 1903 he departed from San Francisco determined to drive his automobile all the way to New York City, a journey that had never been attempted before. He left with a young mechanic, Sewall K. Crocker, as his travelling companion. Soon after their departure, Jackson acquired a Pit Bull who he named Bud. Together the trio drove across the United States, becoming minor celebrities in the process. Bud Nelson became the most famous dog of his day, and proved to be the ultimate travelling companion for his owner Horatio Nelson Jackson.
Pickles didn’t save any lives or anything like that. No, he had a much greater role to play; Pickles saved the 1966 FIFA World Cup. When the Jules Rimet trophy – the familiar FIFA World Cup trophy – was stolen a few months before the beginning of the World Cup, pandemonium broke loose. The tournament couldn’t go on without the trophy, and a full week went by with no leads and no hope of recovering it. Pickles, a black and white Collie, stumbled upon the trophy, which was wrapped in newspaper at the end of a driveway in suburban London. The thief was never caught, but Pickles had singlehandedly saved the World Cup.
Fido’s unwavering loyalty to his master made him a canine celebrity in the 1940s and 1950s, popularizing his name in the process. Fido was born an unwanted street dog in Luco di Mugello, a small town in the Italian province of Florence. In 1941, a man named Carlo Soriani found him injured by the road and decided to take him home and nurse him back to health, eventually adopting him. From this day onward, whenever Soriani returned home from the bus he took to his factory job, Fido was at the stop waiting for him. For 2 years without fail Soriani would get off the bus and see Fido waiting for him, and the two would walk home together. One day, Soriani’s factory was bombed by the allies, killing him and many others. When Soriani failed to return that night, Fido eventually went home – but returned to the bus stop the next day, and the next day. For 15 years, Fido went to the bus stop at the same time each day, waiting for his master. Fido’s loyalty made him a local celebrity, and when he died in 1958 he was buried next to his master.
Hachiko was a Japanese dog that became a national treasure thanks to his unwavering loyalty. His master was a professor at the University of Tokyo who took the train to and from work each day. Each evening, Hachiko would await his master’s return at the train station. One day his master suffered a cerebral hemorrhage while at work and never returned. Hachiko continued to await his master’s return at the train station at the same time each day. 7 years later, Hachiko’s story was thrust into the national spotlight by an article that profiled his dedication to his master. Hachiko became a national treasure all across Japan, and his unwavering commitment to his master was highlighted as an example of loyalty to family and country. His death was national news, and even 60 years later – in 1994 – millions of listeners tuned in to hear a recording that was discovered containing his bark.