Statues around the world reflect history, legends and great people or events. Famous dogs have also made their mark in the art of statuary, with symbolic statues ranging from simple dedications to dramatic memorials of cultural heritage. Our faithful canine friends have greatly impacted the lives of mankind; it is only appropriate they would be immortalized with honor the same way humans have been. Although there are many dog statues around the world, this small sampling will give you an idea of how important dogs have always been to humankind.
Fala, a wee Scottish terrier, was the presidential pet of Franklin D. Roosevelt. Fala (originally known as Big Bo), was a Christmas gift to Roosevelt from a cousin. Roosevelt renamed him after a Scottish ancestor named John Murray of Falahill. A statue of Fala next to President Roosevelt, created by sculptor Neil Estern, is in the Franklin Delano Roosevelt Memorial in Washington, D.C.
Fala traveled everywhere with President Roosevelt, and was lovingly cared for by Roosevelt. The travels with the president included accompanying him to international conferences and to Roosevelt’s homes in Georgia and New York where the president received treatments for the paralysis he had developed from polio.
Fala was named an honorary private in the United States Army, and his name became a code word between American Military troops in The Battle of the Bulge to help keep Germans from infiltrating the U.S. ranks.
The name may not be well known in all parts of the world, but Laika, the stray dog found on the streets of Moscow in the late 1950s, is a hero in her own right who earned her place in history. She was among the earliest living animals to be launched into space. On the 3rd of November 1957, the Russians put Laika into Sputnik 2 to be the first animal ever to hopefully orbit the Earth. Although her fate from the flight was a sad one, with her death occurring while in Sputnik 2, she helped pave the way for humans to travel in space.
The tiny 11 pound dog has been immortalized in two statues in Moscow, Russia. One created in 1997 depicts her standing on a rocket in Star City, Russia where the cosmonauts trained. The other includes her in the Monument to the Conquerors of Space built in 1964. The mixed breed dog was born in 1954 and died in 1957.
Besides statues, Laika received recognition on a Romanian postage stamp in 1959. To further honor her, NASA named a soil target Laika during the Mars Exploration Rover Mission.
Die Bremer Stadtmusikanten (Bremen Town Musicians), are featured on a statue in Bremen, Germany which was erected in 1953. It was built in honor of a well-known Brothers Grimm fairy tale. The story is about four animals – a dog, cat, donkey and rooster – that are past their prime and usefulness in local farms. In an effort to stay alive and become independent of their human masters, each of the four run away and meet on the road on their way to become musicians in Bremen. On their travels they come across a home inhabited by robbers enjoying their ill-gotten gains. The four animals climb on each other’s backs and frighten the terrified robbers away from the home with the loud music they create. The robbers try to regain the home, but are again frightened away by the seemingly ghostly foursome. The four brave animals have become a loved symbol of bravery, unity, independence and perseverance.
The tale has been reproduced in numerous books and movies, including a Muppets version called The Muppet Musicians of Bremen, an altered 1975 version by children’s author and illustrator Richard Scarry entitled Richard Scarry’s Animal Nursery Tales.
Not just one, but many statues and pictorial representations of Anubis have appeared in ancient Egyptian art. Anubis, although actually a jackal, is part of the nomenclature of Canidae, which includes foxes, wolves, coyotes, jackals and domestic dogs.
Jackals, as nocturnal feeders of rodents that lived among the tombs, were believed to be protectors of the dead. In the old Kingdom of Egypt, the statues were used to pray for the souls of the departed. Anubis became the God of embalming and cemeteries, a very important role in the ancient rites of passage into the afterlife. Priests involved in the mummification process were believed to don a mask of the animal god to symbolize Anubis watching over the departed during the ceremony. Present in statuary and art discovered from ancient Egypt, he is present in every kind of Egyptian historical treasure that has survived the centuries.
In their loyalty to humans, dogs have long been members of military and law enforcement teams. These often unheralded companions, team members and working dogs perform their dangerous services to help protect human beings. Some have lost their lives in the effort, and others served for a lifetime. The bond between their handlers and these amazing service dogs is similar to that between human comrades in arms, no matter what their service was. Their sacrifice and loss, or longtime service is deserving of statues being built in their honor. There are countless examples of canine heroes represented in memorial statues across the United States. The deep connection between man and dog withstands even the most harrowing circumstances. It is no wonder these brave animals are so honored. Their contributions have been immense.
It is obvious in their inclusion in the vast art of statues throughout the world, that dogs are valued for their steadfast loyalty and love for humankind, and rightfully honored.
Read more articles by Laurie Darroch