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20 Ridiculously Accomplished Dogs Who Will Make You Rethink Your Life

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Top dogs rarely (if ever) don American flag lapel pins, strut their stuff in crisp designer suits or wine and dine potential clients (more likely, they'll help dispose of an accidentally dropped crumb).

But these aren't necessarily the only credentials of a hard-working professional. And neither is having two legs or opposable thumbs. Many powerful pooches throughout history have held important positions in the realms of search and rescue, space exploration, health care and even politics. It's true: One classy bloodhound currently holds a mayoral position in a Colorado town.

The next time you're about to complain about the horrors of your nine-to-five, consider these four-legged wonders who've worked their tails off to achieve greatness. Hopefully, they'll inspire you to do the same.

  • Smoky fought in World War II.
    Bill Wynee
    The teeny, tiny, four-pound Yorkshire terrier backpacked through the New Guinea jungle and cheered up injured soldiers. She's considered to be one of the first therapy dogs. And while a noble duty, this wasn't all little Smoky did to help the war effort.

    Her owner, Cpl. Bill Wynne found her incredibly easy to train. She performed intricate tasks, like stringing communication lines between the Philippines. Smoky, who passed in 1957, has been honored by the "Smoky Yorkie Doodle Dandy and Dogs of All Wars Memorial" statue in Cleveland, Ohio.
  • Man Ray, though a dog, was dubbed "Man of the Year."
    How They Are Toward Newspapers, 1973/Courtesy
    If you recognize this snout, it's because Man Ray the Weimaraner has been plastered on book covers, magazines, magnets and souvenirs since the 70s. Man Ray is the dog who inspired artist William Wegman to further develop his dog photography: While Wegman was experimenting with other kind of mediums, Man Ray kept on barging into the frame. Since the pup's interruption, Wegman has continued to produce admired dog-thematic artwork.

    In 1982, the Village Voice dubbed the 80-pound canine "Man Of The Year." He appeared on "Late Night with David Letterman" that same year, when Letterman called him a "global celebrity."
  • Handsome Dan is the face of Ivy League.
    Only 6.2 percent of applicants are admitted into Yale nowadays, but Handsome Dan has established a legacy that guarantees his successors an "in."

    Yale's mascot has been a bulldog since 1889. The original Handsome Dan (pictured) is the first live college mascot in America. According to Sports Illustrated, this good looking pup was purchased for five dollars from a local blacksmith.

    It takes more than just a pretty face to be honored with the title of Yale's most good-looking dog: Dan's successors are selected based on factors like their cleanliness, their demeanor toward children and their ability to walk near the band without getting riled.
    Photo: Wikipedia
  • Bazz the beekeeper sniffs out a deadly disease that's wiping out hives.
    Youtube
    When's the last time you protected the fate of sweet, beloved honey? This black lab named Baz is trained "to detect a deadly disease called American foulbrood that has been wiping out hives in south Australia," reports HuffPost UK. Baz can sniff out the disease, and by doing so, save thousands of bees. The suit he wears protects him from being stung, and also makes him appear extraordinarily adorable.
  • Titina was the first dog to fly over the North Pole.
    Wikicommons
    This black-and-white fox terrier accompanied her owner, Umberto Nobile (pictured), on a history-making flight across the North Pole in 1926. Nobile was the pilot of the Norge, the airship that made this historic trip.

    In Titina's first official biography, published on January 8, 1927 in The New York Times, she is described as "a dog marked by destiny, a dog of greatest character."
  • Saucisse earned himself a spot on the ballot of an important election in France.
    Not the original Saucisse
    In 2001, a little Dachshund named Saucisse (which translates to "sausage") won four percent of the vote at municipal elections in Marseille, France's second most populous city. While he never had a shot at making it to the two-candidate race in the 2002 presidential elections, some argue his campaign signified the country's desire for a change in their political system. The wiener dog grew to become somewhat of a media darling and has even appeared on a French reality show.
    (Photo: Wikipedia)
  • Jofi was Sigmund Freud's faithful assistant.
    Hulton Archive via Getty Images
    The famous psychoanalyst entrusted his Chinese Chow as a barometer for patients' temperament. He believed dogs were good judges of character and could help soothe nerves, writes Sam Stall in "100 Dogs Who Changed Civilization." "For this reason, he allowed Jo-Fi to sit in on patient interviews. If someone was calm and at peace, the dog would lie down relatively near him or her; if someone was full of hidden tension, Jo-Fi would keep his distance."

    The fluffy canine doubled as a time piece, according to Stall. After fifty minutes, Jofi would get up and go to the door, signaling to Freud that a session was over. Freud was able to delicately end an appointment, without seeming insensitive to the patient's needs.
  • Jet was the first four-legged air traffic controller.
    People Magazine: August 23, 1999
    In 1999, the Border Collie earned Southwest Florida International Airport the title of the "first commercial airport in the nation to use a dog as part of its Wildlife Management Program to control bird activity on the airfield." Jet was "hired" to prevent mid-air collisions between planes and birds by charging flocks of birds whose roosting spots were too close to air traffic corridors. He even earned his own spot in People Magazine.

    The dog saved Southwest Florida International millions on plane repair and outdated preventative tactics. Jet retired in 2001, but his career success encouraged other airports to hire their own bird-chasing dogs.
  • Ginny rescued nearly 1,000 cats.
    Joan Baron/AP
    Ginny, a schnauzer-Siberian husky mix, was bestowed the honorable title of "Cat of the Year" by the Westchester Cat Show in 1998 for her masterful ability to find and rescued endangered cat. According to NBC, "Ginny once threw herself against a vertical pipe at a construction site to topple it and reveal the kittens trapped inside. Another time she ignored the cuts on her paws as she dug through a box of broken glass to find an injured cat inside."

    "The mother Teresa of cats" is said to have rescued more than 900 cats over her lifetime. Ginny was not trained to help the feline kind: "She just had this knack of knowing when a cat was in trouble," her owner said.
  • Bud was the first dog to travel across the U.S. by car.
    Bud is a road tripper's dream canine companion. The pit bull was picked up by automobile pioneer Horatio Nelson Jackson for $15 in Idaho and helped his owner complete the U.S.'s first cross-country trip. Because the dust of the roads irritated his eyes, Bud was fitted with a neat pair of goggles.

    While Bud didn't do any of the driving, his presence helped Jackson and his driving partner reach celebrity status, with the press following the journey very closely. Bud continued to accompany Jackson in future drives, and resided full-time at Jackson's home in Vermont.
    Photo: Wikipedia
  • Buddy was America's first Seeing Eye dog.
    The Seeing Eye, Inc.
    Buddy was the United States' first formally trained guide dog for the blind. She pioneered the program for the Seeing Eye organization, which now serves average of 260 people who are blind and visually impaired each year.

    “Buddy delivered to me the divine gift of freedom,” said Morris Frank, the first American to benefit from this program.
  • Blair is the canine version of Marilyn Monroe.
    Before Air Bud or Lassie, there was Blair, a Border Collie who is considered to be the first doggy movie star. Blair played the role of Rover in a 1905 silent, short British drama called "Rescued By Rover." In the film, directed by Cecil Hepworth, Rover leads its owner to find a kidnapped baby and is considered a hero. Blair continued to star in short features, and her performance in the popular film established "Rover" as a very popular dog name.

    If you're feeling a bit starstruck, you can watch the film here.

    Photo: Wikipedia
  • Pa Kettle is the current mayor of Divide, Colorado.
    tcrascolorado
    A bloodhound named Pa Kettle was inaugurated as Divide's mayor on April 19, 2014. He beat out a wolf, a hedgehog, a horse, some other dogs and a cat named Buster in this year's election. Pa was preceded by a three-legged cat.
    The town doesn't have a human mayor partly because of its small size (the 2010 Census was 127). So, the Teller County Regional Animal Shelter holds a special election every two years to elect a new animal as mayor and fundraise. This year, the election raised over $12,000.
  • Martha was Paul McCartney's muse.
    Facebook.com/MarthaPaulMcCartneysDog
    "Martha My Dear," The Beatles' sweet, poppy track, released in 1968, was inspired by Paul McCartney's eponymous English sheepdog. Martha was McCartney's first pet, and he loved her, well, dearly. McCartney is the only Beatles member to appear on this track, and he croons: "Martha my dear you have always been my inspiration/Please/Be good to me Martha my love/Don't forget me Martha my dear."

    McCartney speaks of his sheepdog in Barry Miles' "Paul McCartney, Many Years From Now." The musician says, "She was a dear pet of mine. I remember John [Lennon] being amazed to see me being so loving to an animal. He said, 'I’ve never seen you like that before.' I’ve since thought, you know, he wouldn’t have. It’s only when you’re cuddling around with a dog that you’re in that mode, and she was a very cuddly dog."
  • Jim could have been a professional gambler.
    AP
    If you had Jim The Wonder Dog on your side today, you might be rolling in dough: The all-knowing Llewelyn setter had psychic ability beyond that of a Magic 8 Ball. Throughout the 1930s, the dog was credited with possessing powers beyond mortal comprehension. He allegedly picked the winner of the Kentucky Derby seven years in a row by placing a paw on the winner listed on a piece of paper with all of the entires. He guessed the Yankees would win the 1936 World Series (he was right) and he could detect the sex of pregnant woman's unborn baby. Jim was also credited with being multi-lingual and able to understand morse code.

    Dr. A. J. Durant, head of the School of Veterinary Medicine at the University of Missouri, said that the pooch "possessed an occult power that might never come again to a dog in many generations." A park in Marshall, Misouri was constructed in 1999 to honor Jim and all his wonder.

    Photo: Wikipedia
  • Laika was the first Soviet space dog.
    Wikicommons
    On November 3, 1957, this Russian pup was one of the first animals to be launched into space. Laika, a stray found on the streets of Moscow, paved the way to manned spaceflight. Sadly, the dog did not survive the mission and died from overheating hours after launch. In 2008, a small monument to honor Laika was built near the military research facility that set her up for the launch. The monument shows Laika standing on top of a rocket.
  • Zanjeer detected explosives during the 1993 Mumbai bomb blasts.
    Photo by Getty. Zanjeer not pictured.
    Zanjeer, a golden labrador who resembles the average American family dog, is credited for saving thousands of lives. In 1993, the canine nosed out more than 3,329 kgs of an explosive, 600 detonators, 249 hand grenades and 6,406 round of live ammunition. Zanjeer also helped prevent three more bombs the days following the blasts in Mumbai.

    Zanjeer died of bone cancer in November 2000. This photo shows a senior police officer honoring the heroic canine at his burial.
    Photo: FirstPost
  • Sergeant Stubby served 17 battles in WWI.
    Stubby's short tail earned him his name, but his talent and dedication earned him his army title. The brindle pooch became the official mascot of the 102nd Infantry, 26th Yankee Division. When the division shipped out for France, Stubby was hidden in the coal bin on board. He was allowed to stay with his troops, and battled on the front-lines.

    According to the National Museum of American History, Stubby quickly assimilated with his fellow soldiers: "He learned the bugle calls, the drills, and even a modified dog salute as he put his right paw on his right eyebrow when a salute was executed by his fellow soldiers. Stubby had a positive effect on morale, and was allowed to remain in the camp, even though animals were forbidden."

    Stubby had an aptness for detecting gas, and saved many soldiers from injury. He even alerted paramedics of men wounded in the trenches. After capturing an enemy German spy, the dog was promoted to Sergeant, becoming the first dog to be given rank in the United States Armed Forces.
    Photo: Wikipedia
  • On September 11, Apollo worked tirelessly in his search and rescue duties.
    In 2001, Apollo the German shepherd was awarded the Dickin Medal (the animal equivalent of the Victoria Cross). He was the first dog to arrive at the World Trade Center on September 11 -- just 15 minutes after the first attack. The pup was reportedly almost killed when he was struck by fiery debris, but continued to work after being drenched by water.
    Photo: Wikipedia
  • Mancs saved a child trapped for 3 days after an earthquake.
    This special German shepherd worked as a rescue dog on several earthquake rescue missions worldwide. He is most famous for saving a three-year-old girl who was trapped for 82 hours after the 1999 Izmit earthquake in Turkey. A statue of Mancs was cast in 2004 and can be seen near Hungary's Szinva stream.
    Photo: Wikipedia

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