The Top Dog Stories of 2021

Posted by Billy Francis

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Similar to celebrities and political figures, pups often find themselves in the news. However, unlike their two-legged counterparts, canines usually grab headlines for all the right reasons. From a Pug who can predict the future to an incredible record-breaking Retriever, here’s our roundup of the top dog stories of 2021.

2021: A Record-Breaking Year

"I bet I can fit one more." Photo by @finnyboymolloy

If you want to be the best, you’ve got to beat the rest. These magnificent mutts crammed, crawled and dashed their way to success and became Guinness World Record Holders in 2021. Wish and Halo, two Border Collies from El Cajon, CA, were recognized for performing the most tricks in one minute by two dogs. Macho from Malibu has written his name into the record books as the fastest dog to run the bases at an MLB stadium. Finley the Golden Retriever was first spotted with six tennis balls in his mouth back in 2017, but the amazing dog with the humongous gob will feature for the first time in the Guinness World Records 2022 under the hotly contested category of most tennis balls held in the mouth by a dog. One dog who hopes to find his name in the book soon is Pensacola pup Atlas, who stands at 3ft 4 inches and is on track to be certified as the world’s tallest dog.

Covid-19 Detection Dogs Go to Work

Don’t worry - dogs will save the day again! Photo by Facebook.com/MedicalDetectionDogs

Numerous studies have shown that canines can sniff out Covid-19. In fact, dogs have proven so effective in detecting the virus that their noses have been put to work in many countries, including the U.S. In February, the Miami Heat led the pack by being the first sports team to use trained dogs to detect Covid-19 at their home games. The results were encouraging, with a 92% accuracy rate compared to the team's gold-standard PCR test.

In September, Miami International Airport unleashed the first-ever airport team of Covid-19 detecting dogs. While early results are positive, experts in public health and in training scent dogs say that more information and planning are needed before canines can be deployed at scale in the battle against the virus.

Fortune-Telling Dog Predicts the Future

“It’s a no bones day, okay?” Photo by @showmenoodz

Whether it’s Paul the Octopus forecasting World Cup results or a groundhog who knows when winter will end, we often rely on animal oracles to give us a glimpse into the future. This year has seen the rise of yet another incredible soothsayer, Noodle the Pug. Every single day, Jonathan Graziano lifts his best friend up and asks the question “bones” or “no bones?” If the senior star flops back down like an empty sack of “Pugtatoes,” then it’s a “no bones” day, which means a day for self care, to be kind to yourself and sensitive to others. However, if the droopy dog stands up strong, then it’s a “bones day” which should be celebrated by all. Noodle’s adorable and uncanny abilities have made him one of 2021’s breakout TikTok stars and an icon for senior dogs around the world.

Therapy Dogs Comfort Victims at Florida Building Collapse

Jewel offers a shoulder to cry on. Photo by Facebook.com/k9comfort

On June 24, a condo building suddenly collapsed in Miami’s Surfside area, and emergency responders began working around the clock to try and rescue survivors from the rubble. The collapse and subsequent search efforts were stressful for everyone affected by the disaster, and a special team of canines were recruited to assist. Jewel and eight other comfort dogs from Lutheran Church Charities traveled to Surfside to help victims, families and first responders cope with the tragedy. Jewel and her pack aren’t the only dogs lending a paw. Other canines, like Phorce from Tampa Fire Rescue, were also used in the search and rescue effort.

“Man-Hating, Children-Hating” Foster Chihuahua Finds a Home!

“Back off or I will eat your finger!” Photo by Facebook.com/SecondChancePetAdoptionLeague

Normally, calling a tiny Chihuahua a “haunted Victorian child in the body of a small dog that hates men and children'' would destroy any chances of the pup finding a forever home. However, that wasn’t the case after a foster mom’s brutally honest Facebook post went viral in April.

Tyfanee Fortuna described in hilarious detail the cons (and some pros) about fostering her 2-year-old Chihuahua, Prancer. “Every day we live in the grips of the demonic Chihuahua hellscape he has created in our home,” she wrote. “Prancer only likes women. Nothing else. He hates men more than women do, which says a lot. If you have a husband don’t bother applying, unless you hate him.”

The tongue-in-cheek ad led Second Chance Pet Adoption League in Morris Plains, NJ, to be flooded with adoption requests for Prancer. Ariel Davies, who loves dogs of all dispositions, was the lucky recipient of the somehow lovable “rage machine.”

Remembering the Rescue Dogs of 9/11

“We’ve got each other’s backs.” Photo by Denise Corliss

Twenty years ago, the world was shocked to the core by the 9/11 terrorist attacks. Every September, we remember all the kind souls who stepped up to help on that tragic day and in the weeks that followed, including the four-legged heroes. Catch the last few days of The American Kennel Club Museum of the Dog’s “9/11 Remembered: Search & Rescue Dogs,” which runs through January 2, 2022. The exhibit examines the history of Search and Rescue (SAR) dogs and takes a closer look at the rescue and recovery efforts of September 11, 2001. The display includes sculptures, paintings and photographs that commemorate the incredible work of more than 300 SAR dogs, including Bretagne, the final canine working at Ground Zero.

Boone Wins Hero Dog Award 2021

"I'd like to thank ..." Photo by Facebook.com/HeroDogAwards

Over one million votes were counted, a panel of experts deliberated long and hard, and finally a decision was made: Boone is the winner of the American Humane’s Hero Dog Award 2021. The 4-year-old hound mix from Pennsylvania beat 400 competitors to be crowned this year’s winner. Boone’s story will inspire dogs and humans alike. He was abused as a puppy and had to have his back legs amputated, which saw him spiraling into depression. When he finally found the forever home he deserved, he was fitted with a wheelchair and his whole attitude to life changed. Now, he visits hospitals, schools and wherever he is needed in his role as a therapy dog to change perceptions about disabled dogs and spread the message that nothing can keep a good dog down. He’s also an ambassador for Joey’s P.A.W., a charity that helps dogs with mobility issues, raising money for other pups who need life-enhancing prosthetics and wheels.

An Unforgettable Year for Best in Shows

“I won again, 'fur' real?” Photo by Facebook.com/nbc

The National Dog Show is must-watch television for millions of dog lovers. Canines of all shapes and sizes compete for honors like Best of Breed and First in Group, but they all have their eyes on the big prize: Best in Show. This year’s competition left viewers wondering if it was a rerun when Claire the Scottish Deerhound claimed the top spot for the second year in a row, a feat that has never been achieved before. Earlier this year, Wasabi the Pekingese won Best in Show at The Westminster Kennel Club Dog Show, which caused significant controversy due to the breeding practices surrounding her breed.

Amazing Canines Learn Names of 100+ Toys

“This one is called burger.” Photo by @geniusdogchallenge

“Sit” and “stay” are useful commands that most dogs can master, but how many pups know how to put all their toys away in order? Hungarian researchers have spent two years scouring the globe to find dogs to take part in the Genius Dog Challenge, and only six have made the grade so far. The perceptive pack, all of whom are Border Collies, have learned at least 28 toy names. Some have learned over 100!

Abandoned Dog Finds Love and Center Stage

From stray to star. Photo by Angels of Assisi

When Luna was abandoned and left tied to a pole in a park, she probably expected the worst. Fortunately for her, Angels of Assisi, a Virginia-based animal welfare organization, rescued the malnourished pup and helped her begin the journey back to better health. Luna’s progress was recorded on the organization’s Facebook page, where it was spotted by the Southwest Virginia Ballet's choreography team. The troupe invited Luna to join them on stage for three performances of "The Nutcracker," where the lucky pup donned a festive vest and drew raucous applause from the adoring crowd. After her final curtain call, her new family came to take Luna to her home.

What was your favorite dog story of 2021? Leave a comment or tweet us @BringFido!

Banner photo by Facebook.com/HeroDogAwards.