Readers will learn all kinds of interesting trivia about their four-footed, furry best friends in this delightfully illustrated gift book that is replete with quotes, stories and snipets of useful information.
Dogs are known for their loyalty, but did you also know that: They hear ultra sounds? Sigmund Freud's dog once hailed a taxicab? A dog was the first living creature to go up in space?
Fleet-Footed Fido If you've ever seen a dog chase a cat, then you know dogs can run like the wind. But just how fast are they? Most domestic dogs are capable of reaching speeds of about nineteen miles per hour when running at full throttle, but the members of the greyhound family are the fastest; they're able to reach speeds of up to forty-four miles per hour.
Can You Hear Me? A dog's hearing is superior to that of humans, especially for high-pitched sounds. Canines can hear sounds that are ultrasonic. If a dog suddenly pricks up its ears and becomes alert for no apparent reason, he might have detected bat or rodent sounds that are inaudible to us.
Top Dog The Saint Bernard is the heaviest breed of dog, followed by the English mastiff, Great Dane, Irish wolfhound, Tibetan mastiff and the Newfoundland.
Heroic Dog Turns the Tide of History There are many stories about dogs who have heroically rescued their masters from perilous circumstances. But probably the incident with the most historical significance occurred in 1815, when Napoleon was returning to France after his exile on the island of Elba. As he paced the docks, waiting to be taken to the ship that would deliver him to the mainland, he slipped and fell into the sea. A Newfoundland on a nearby boat leaped in after him, chomped down on his collar and towed him to safety. Had this brave dog not acted so decisively, perhaps that would have been the end of Napoleon—and Waterloo, one of history's most famous battles, would never have taken place.
Dog Lover with a Big Heart—And a Lot of Extra Room Dog lovers frequently own more than one dog, but the record for owning the most dogs belongs to the thirteenth-century emperor Kublai Khan, grandson of Genghis Khan. He owned a grand total of five thousand mastiffs, give or take a few pups.
Dogs Take a Licking Dogs have many curious habits. First among them has to be the tendency to lick their most private parts. Although it might seem perverse, it serves an important purpose. The dog's genitourinary tract will not function without the stimulation that comes from frequent licking.
Small Dogs Are Here to Stay Small dogs live the longest. Toy breeds live up to sixteen years or more; larger dogs seven to nine years. On average, a dog's life span is about twelve years, but advances in veterinary medicine have extended this estimate by about three years. However, some breeds, like the Tibetan terrier, live as long as twenty years.
Good Luck Dogs In many cultures, dogs are considered powerful good-luck charms with the ability to ward off demons. In ancient China, for instance, the sentinels responsible for guarding the imperial court dressed in canine costumes and barked away evil spirits.
Is It Night Yet? In ancient Rome, dusk had officially passed into night when one could no longer tell whether a canine in the distance was a dog or a wolf.
Feeding Tip Dogs that are fed a regular diet of dried dog food are often thirstier than those fed canned or moist foods. This is not because dry dog food is saltier, but because there is less liquid in the dry vittles than in other forms of nourishment. So make sure that your dog has plenty of clean, fresh water.
Heel, Comrade! In Russia, the most popular dog names are taken from the names of canines who have traveled into space. Ugoljok (Blackie) and Veterok (Breezy) are two of the most common monikers.
Why Do Dogs Howl? City dogs are often left alone for long periods and howl because they are lonely. The purpose of the howl in the wild, however, is to gather the pack so that they can face impending danger together. The group howl is also a kind of tribal bonding experience.
Dogs and the Rain Dogs often hesitate before venturing into the rain. It's not because they're afraid of getting wet, but because the rain amplifies sound and hurts their sensitive ears.
Porky Dogs One dog in four is fat. These chubby canines fall into the same lifestyle pitfalls as their owners can—they eat too many snacks and high-fat foods, and don't exercise enough. This is undoubtedly a consequence of domestication. Obesity is unheard of in the wild. Overweight dogs are more likely to be ill and don't live as long as trim ones. Here's how to tell if your dog is a porker. Feel its ribs at about midchest level. Gently glide your fingers over this area of your dog's body. A thin layer of fat is normal. However, if you can't feel the ribs, your dog is too fat. Check with your vet first, though, before putting your dog on a diet.
Work (Out) Like a Dog Dogs need—and enjoy—exercise, especially if they're putting on the pounds. Experts recommend that dogs get regular exercise about three times a week, which should include walking or running. This will increase the metabolic rate of canines just as it does humans, allowing them to burn more calories and maintain a healthy weight.But don't overdo it. Dogs are so loyal they will run alongside their masters way past the healthy point. In fact, they'll run until they drop dead from exhaustion. So keep a look out for signs that your dog is tiring, such as excessive panting or salivating, a labored stride, a reluctance to continue, or sudden stopping. Some dogs get a glazed look in their eyes. For a greyhound, a mile is a piece of cake when they are fatigued; for a bulldog it's a long way. Be aware, then, of your dog's level of fitness so that you don't push beyond its limits. Be aware, too, that if your dog isn't exercised regularly, a vigorous workout might do him more harm than good. His lack of muscle tone can make him more prone to injury, especially in the knees and back. For a dog who is physically fit, the beach is a fun place for a run or a walk; but just make sure he doesn't drink the salt water (it'll cause diarrhea). And if you're up for a game of fetch, throw only soft Frisbees and balls to avoid damaging your dog's teeth.
Dogs in the Military During World War I, Airedale terriers worked twelve hours a day on strict rations carrying messages to and from the front line.
It's a Bird, It's a Plane—No, It's an Airedale! During World War II, dogs were once again conscripted into the military to do their part. Airedales, a breed of large terriers with a hard, wiry coat that is dark on the back and sides and tan elsewhere, were parachuted behind enemy lines by the British army to accompany raiding parties and to help spy missions. The name 'Airedale,' however, derives not from their peculiar relationship with the air, but from the fact that they were bred about a hundred years ago in Yorkshire, England, in the valley of the Aire River. Airedales became paratroopers because they were inexpensive, faithful to those they knew, suspicious of strangers, and possessed good hearing and scenting skills.
A Dog's Nose Knows The canine nose works 1 million times more efficiently than the human nose, but only for smells that are of doggie importance—like barbecued steaks and meatloaf. The fragrance of flowers, on the other hand, registers only faintly. Some dogs, however, have better noses than others. According to the North American Police Work Dog Association (NAPWDA), the ability to sniff out suitcases filled with drugs is more a matter of talent than innate ability. NAPWDA tests its dogs, and only those with the best performance scores are hired.
Why Do Dogs Pant? Since they only have sweat glands on their feet, dogs cannot lose heat rapidly by perspiring from head to toe the way humans do. Instead, dogs 'sweat' by panting, which removes body heat by evaporation from the surface of the tongue. Dogs also pant when they are nervous or excited—a way for them to 'cool down.'
Don't Eat the Snow—Yellow or Otherwise It's always fun to run and play with your dog in the snow, but eating snow, no matter how clean or pure, is not good for your dog. It causes spasms in the gastrointestinal tract, which can lead to diarrhea, stomachaches and colds.
Why Does a Pointer Point? This behavior comes from the wolf, of which the dog is a direct descendant. When the lead wolf in a pack smells its prey, it freezes and points itself in the direction of the scent. This gives the other members in the pack a chance to pick up the scent, too. There is a pause before they are all in unison; it is this wolf pause that the pointer dog is imitating.
Dogs Love to Be Loved Studies show that a lovingly handled dog is a healthier dog. The touch of the human hand improves the function of virtually all of the sustaining systems: respiratory, circulatory, digestive, and so on, in newborn puppies. A frequently petted puppy is not only healthier and happier, but also better behaved. Dogs, like humans, find solace in touching another living being, which is another reason why they get along so well together.
Why Do Dogs Bark? Barking is often a canine alarm. Its purpose is to let people as well as other dogs know that something—whether that be an approaching intruder or a stray—is trying to encroach upon territory it regards as its own. In the wild, barking tells puppies to take cover and hide, and also alerts the other dogs in the pack to assemble for action. An out-and-out attack by a dog, however, is silent. Dogs also bark because they're bored, anxious or excited. Sometimes the reason is purely physical—they're hot, cold or hungry.
A Dog with Bite But No Bark If you love dogs but hate the sound of barking, here's a possible solution—a barkless dog. The basenji, from the Congo, is a breed of dog that does not bark but instead makes a yodel-like sound.
How Many Dogs Are There? There are 150 million dogs worldwide; 40 million in this country. In the United States, the Southwest is the area with the most dogs. And California, boasting a population of 5.7 million dogs, is the state with the most canines.
Why So Many Dogs? During the industrial revolution, dogs were bred for specific purposes. Sheepdogs, hunting, attack and guard dogs are a few examples of 'working dogs.' Deliberate breeding was so successful that more dogs were bred than were needed. This, combined with the dog's natural tendency to procreate, resulted in a surplus of dogs.
Man's Best Friend—But Why? It is probably because dogs are incredibly loyal. There are many stories on record testifying to this fact. One of the most impressive took place over a century ago in England. A terrier named Bobby was so devoted to his master that after his master passed away, he sat by his grave every day for fifteen years in Greyfriars Churchyard.
How to Calculate Your Dog's Age The old formula for obtaining the age of your dog was to multiply every year of a dog's life by seven human years. But that's not accurate. A dog is full grown at twelve months, which would be age eighteen in human terms. From this point on, to calculate the true age of your dog, figure that every dog year is the equivalent of five human years. Thus a ten-year-old dog is sixty-three years of age in human terms, calculated this way: The first year of a dog's life counts as eighteen; then add five years for every additional year. Since there are nine additional years, add forty-five to the eighteen to arrive at sixty-three.
Is Your Dog Telepathic? Maybe. If you're one of the many dog owners who often get the feeling that your dog can read your mind, that could be exactly what she's doing. In Russia, a team of doctors and scientists conducted 1,278 telepathic experiments with dogs, of which 696 were successful. Most of the experiments involved testing the dog's ability to read unspoken commands. The research team concluded that some ESP factor must be at work. 'It was mathematically preposterous,' writes Dennis Bardens in Psychic Animals, 'to suppose that dogs could, in more than half the unspoken commands, have responded correctly merely by chance. It would be tantamount to a human being backing every second number correctly on a roulette wheel. . . . The odds against this would be billions to one.'
Dogs as Healers The relationship between man and dog is a special one. It is no wonder, then, that more and more health-care practitioners are recommending that their patients adopt a pet to help them through periods of illness. Although there are many instances on record that describe how the companionship of a loyal, loving pet has helped an ailing person to get well, a case in 1984 illustrates this with particular drama. An Englishman named Frank Mattingly was in a coma due to a mysterious illness. Loving words from his wife and other family members could not awaken him. All hope of his recovery was lost, when suddenly Frank whispered the name of his dog, Tipper. The hospital staff agreed to have the dog brought to the hospital. Dogs, of course, were not allowed inside, so they led him to the roof of an adjacent building one floor below Frank's room. Frank's bed and all of his medical equipment were pushed toward the open window. Tipper started barking and howling, and even tried to climb up a wall as if to get closer to Frank. At that point Frank awoke from his coma and started talking. Everybody was amazed, none more so than Frank himself. 'It was,' he said, 'as though I was brought back from the dead.'
Famous Dog Lovers Although he owned no pets of his own, Cary Grant still had a soft spot in his heart for animals, especially dogs. One night on his way to a restaurant, he spotted a man walking a dog. The man, who had been drinking, was jerking the leash, causing the poor creature much distress. The more the dog yelped, the more the man pulled on the leash. Maureen Donaldson, who was with Grant that evening, describes the incident in her autobiography, An Affair to Remember: My Life with Cary Grant: 'Look here,' Cary said as he walked up to the man. 'I will give you a hundred dollars right now if you will give me that dog.' 'You wanna buy my dog?' the man said woozily. 'That's correct,' Cary said, careful not to challenge the man on his treatment of the animal. This was strictly a transaction between two businessmen. 'Well, I'll tell ya,' the man said, weaving about while the dog still yelped. 'This dog is worth two hundred dollars. Whaddya think about that?' 'Why, you're absolutely right,' Cary agreed. 'I wouldn't want to cheat you!' He reached into his wallet quickly, pulled out ten twenty-dollar bills and handed them to the man at the same moment he snatched the leash out of his hands. We were well on our way toward the restaurant before the man even realized what had happened. 'My God,' Cary whispered. 'What are we going to do with this mutt?' 'I don't know,' I said, grabbing his hand, 'but I love you.' 'And what brought that on?' he said, genuinely confused. 'Doesn't matter,' I said firmly. 'But I love you.' 'Good,' he replied. 'Then you find a home for this animal!'
Chow Time for Elvis Cary Grant was not, of course, the only celebrity who cared about dogs. Elvis owned a chow chow named Gitlow, and his affection and concern for the dog's well-being was clearly revealed when Gitlow was diagnosed with a critical kidney ailment. The nature of the illness was such that Gitlow couldn't be treated in Memphis, where Elvis lived, so he flew his beloved chow on his private plane to a special clinic in Boston. Unfortunately, the dog did not survive, and Elvis was devastated.
More Famous Dog Lovers In addition to Elvis and Cary Grant, other celebrities who have owned or own chow chows include Sally Struthers, Queen Victoria, former president Calvin Coolidge, Howard Baker and Heather Locklear. Perhaps it is the chow chow's endearing facial expression, caused by the unique furrows of skin and fur, that make it so appealing. George Washington, Pablo Picasso, Robert De Niro, Gloria Estefan, Richard Simmons, Darren McGavin, Don Johnson, Bobby Short and Eugene O'Neil owned or currently own Dalmatians. Dalmatians are the tenth most popular breed among American dog owners, but their quick tempers and other personality foibles do not make them the ideal pet. Their popularity is largely due to the appealing way they've been portrayed by Disney in l0l Dalmatians. The first version of this film was made in 1961, based on Dodie Smith's bestselling book published in 1956. German shepherds reportedly make much better companions, mainly because they're loyal, devoted, responsible and love to work for their owners. Some famous shepherd owners include George Hamilton, Bob Hope, Jack Lalanne, Roy Rogers and former president Franklin D. Roosevelt. Like people, however, they too can have unpleasant dispositions. Franklin Roosevelt had two German shepherds, Major and Meg, both of whom were prone to misbehaving in the most politically incorrect manner: Major bit Senator Hattie Caraway and England's Prime Minister James MacDonald; Meg committed what might be construed among politicians as a much lesser offense—she bit a journalist, Bess Furman. Pablo Picasso, John Wayne, Clark Gable, Andy Warhol, Liz Smith, Errol Flynn and William Randolph Hearst owned dachshunds. George and Barbara Bush, Fatty Arbuckle, Vicki Lawrence and Patrick Muldoon are some famous English springer spaniel owners. Charles Schulz, Roger Staubach, Eva Gabor and Barry Manilow have owned beagles. Golden retreivers are owned by Oprah Winfrey, Mary Tyler Moore, former president Gerald Ford, Jimmy Stewart, Bill Blass, Bob Newhart, Chevy Chase and Frank Gifford.
Richard Torregrossa is a journalist and an artist who has freelanced for Cosmopolitan, Self, Yoga Journal, Microsoft's on-line magazine Sidewalk, and other national and regional publications.
He is the compiler and illustrator of The Little Book of Wisdom and recently illustrated Daily Meditations for Women Who Love Too Much by bestselling author Robin Norwood. He is also the author and illustrator of Fun Facts about Babies.
Born in Brooklyn, New York, he now lives in San Diego, California, where he is currently working on a series of illustrated children's books that will have tie-ins to their own Web sites. His upcoming , an illustrated fable, will be published in March 1999.