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  • Writer's pictureNZ Booklovers

Dogs Who Changed the World by Dan Jones

In Dogs Who Changed the World, author Dan Jones has celebrated 50 awesome canines. Brave, affectionate, loyal, intelligent, or seriously cute, they altered the course of history, or in just one case, ruined everything!

Among their owners were famous scientists, film stars, artists, composers, and authors. Some of their beloved companions had a unique talent. The legendary composer Richard Wagner’s Peps, a Cavalier King Charles Spaniel, showed his musical appreciation by reacting to different musical keys and howling when a new piece did not suit him. Jofi, Sigmund Freud’s Chow Chow, turned into a canine therapist who had a calming influence on Freud’s patients.

Other dogs spent their lives in sumptuous surroundings like Mops, a much adored Pug belonging to Marie Antoinette, Queen of France (1755-1793). King Louis XIV, in the mid-to-late 1600’s, was passionate about his coterie of tiny Poodles, especially Filou. Surprisingly perhaps, none of the British Queen’s famous corgis have rated a mention.

Dogs have heroically saved many lives. A St Bernard, Big Barry, rescued 40 unfortunate souls lost in the treacherous frosted crags of the Alps in the 1800’s. Over his lifetime, in Wales during the 1930’s, Swansea Jack, a Black Retriever saved a staggering total of 27 people from drowning in Swanseas’ North Dock. Salty, a Labrador Guiding Eye Dog, led his partially sighted owner Omar Rivera to safety down more than 70 floors when the World State Centre Building collapsed on 9/11.

There is a heart-rending story about Laika, a Husky-spitz Cross, who was the first living creature to orbit the earth on Russia’s Sputnik 2. But she was sent into space with no hope of re-entry and no hope of survival. This highlighted the dubious ethics of using dogs and other animals in scientific and medical experiments.

Some dogs rose from rags to riches like Kabosu, a Shibu Inu, who spent time in an animal shelter before she was adopted by a kindergarten teacher and became a cryptocurrency icon. But the richest dog in the world was long thought to be Gunther III. This handsome German Shepherd supposedly inherited the fortune of multimillionaire German countess Karlotta Leibenstein. However this story eventually turned out to be a hoax.

Dogs Who Changed the World would make a welcome gift for all dog lovers. The 50 short stories are charming and witty and the book itself is beautifully produced. Alongside each story is a delightful full page coloured illustration that adds greatly to the pleasure of reading this book.

It would appeal to school age children as well as adults. All kinds of breeds can be found between its pages. Some will be familiar like the Labrador, Collie, Fox Terrier and Poodle. But quite a few others might well be new to them such as the Chiweenie, Pomeranian, Shiba Inu and the Shih Tzu. So, this book could also be a wonderful way for children to learn their names and to identify them from the illustrations.

And the names their owners gave them are proving to be a wonderful source of inspiration for my grandchildren as a new puppy will soon be welcomed into our whanau.

Reviewer: Lyn Potter

Published by Welbeck


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