Animals are an intimate part of human life. Whether pets or predators, they are not only part of every landscape, they are part of the history of every country. And there may be no better way to understand a country than by the way it treats its animals and which animals it chooses to remember.
Strange as it sounds, monuments to animals have been erected all over the world. Many of these honor the animals who fought alongside men in and out of foreign trenches, but others honor the kindnesses they've bestowed upon their friends. Specifically affecting are the tributes to small animals who led big lives, animals like the small terrier that led parades through an Australian town for years and years until he became the town's mascot and the cat that sailed around the world.
These monuments may be small and out of the way, but they also offer a way to understand what qualities a culture values and thus sees in its animals. Also, they are generally adorable.
Another common theme among these monuments is that, like the animals themselves, they receive a whole lot of petting. Almost every single one of the monuments is shiny from being touched by travelers seeking a little bit of luck or some of the creature comfort of home.
The Chizhik-Pyzhik In St. Petersburg
The tiny brass Siskin sitting on a bridge may be the world's tiniest monument. It is meant as a tribute to a group of local students who wore colors similar to the birds plumage, but it's known better as a source of luck. <a href="http://www.saint-petersburg.com/monuments/chizhik-pyzhik.asp">Locals make wishes and try to hit it with coins</a>.
Trim The Cat In Sydney
Trim the cat <a href="http://www.amazon.co.uk/Trim-Being-Story-Brave-Seafaring/dp/0207196141">loyally followed his owner Matthew Flinders on his voyages around Australia</a>, during which he documented much of the continent's flora. Trim was likely eaten by slaves on Mauritius after Flinders was imprisoned for spying. He is immortalized on the streets of Sydney.
Greyfriar's Bobby In Edinburgh
Immortalized by this tiny memorial and a <a href="http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=B29nA5GVvFE">1961 Disney film</a>, Greyfriar's Bobby was a Sky Terrier who reportedly kept vigil over his master's grave for 14 years. That the entire story <a href="http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-2021906/Greyfriars-Bobby-hoax-Dog-kept-vigil-masters-grave-publicity-stunt.html">may have been concocted </a>hasn't made it a less important piece of Scotland's pop mythology.
Ducklings In Boston
Robert McCloskey's 1941 children's book <a href="http://www.amazon.com/Ducklings-Viking-Kestrel-picture-books/dp/0670451495">"Make Way For Ducklings"</a> is the official children's book of the state of Massachusetts and is immortalized by a small monument on the Boston Common. The ducks often wear jerseys during baseball playoffs.
Puppy In Toowoomba
<a href="http://www.toowoombarc.qld.gov.au/facilities-and-recreation/parksgardens/public-parks/1967-picnic-point-park-toowoomba.html">"Puppy" led the Toowoomba Thistle Pipe Band proudly during local parades for years</a>. For his service, he received a small monument in the town's park. The moral? Australians loves feistiness.
Horse Trough In Malvern
Malvern England's strangest monument is likely the stone horse trough that memorializes the horses that died during the Boer War in South Africa.
Homeless Dog In Tyumen
This sorry mutt in Tyumen Russia is not just a monument, he collects money to help homeless dogs.
Smoky 4lb. WWII War Dog
<a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.com/social/deerinmw"><img style="float:left;padding-right:6px !important;" src="http://i.huffpost.com/profiles/1642134-tiny.png?20110915114532" /></a><a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.com/social/deerinmw">deerinmw</a>:<br />Smoky - WWII War Dog A 4-lb. Yorkshire Terrier, Smoky was born in 1943 in Brisbane Australia in 1943. In 1944, she was found in an abandoned foxhole in the New Guinea jungle. Adopted by Army-Air Corps Cpl. William A. Wynne, she was named Mascot of the Southwest Pacific theater of operations by "Yank" Magazine. She became an unofficial war dog when she traveled 70 ft in an 8-inch tall culvert to help lay communication lines under a critical air-taxiway in Luzon, Philippines. She is the first therapy dog of record (Animal Planet). After the war she performed in hospitals, orphanages, nightclubs and on early live TV. She knew over 150 tricks, including walking a tightrope blindfolded. She has seven memorials, the most recent being at the Royal Brisbane & Womens Hospital in Brisbane Australia. The others are: Cleveland Metroparks Rocky River Reservation, Lakewood, OH. (Smoky's final resting place). The AKC Museum of the Dog in St. Louis, MO; Hickam Air Force Base in Hawaii, 26th Air Space Intelligence Sq.( 26th Photo Recon Sq. Successor) "SMOKY"; Ohio Veterinary Medicine Association, Columbus, OH, Animal HALL OF FAME, "No. 1 Dog Hero;" City of Eastlake OH, "SMOKY and DOGS of ALL WARS," Dogpark; University of Tennessee, Knoxville, TN, College of Veterinary Medicine, "FOUR POUNDS OF COURAGE". http://www.smokywardog.com/blog/ Photo: From Left: "Smoky Too" peruses the known publications listing "Smoky;" the "Smoky & Dogs of All Wars" Memorial in Cleveland Metroparks; Smoky in Cpl. Wynne's helmet in New Guinea; Smoky w/Bill Wynne walking tightrope blindfolded; and Smoky parachuting from New Guinea tree for Yank magazine Mascot contest. Photos -c William A. Wynne, 2012.