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Love is pawfect

By KATHY MORAN, The Philippine STAR Published Feb 04, 2023 5:00 am

Many stories have been written, movies and TV shows aired and firsthand stories told about how our furry babies have impacted our lives. These furry companions have loved us humans so much that there are even monuments that have been built in their memory.

For this coming day of hearts, it is always good to remember that petting a dog or cat lowers our blood pressure—and makes us feel loved in a whole new way.

The most loyal dogs

You may have heard of Hachiko’s story, the golden brown Akita dog that waited for human Hidesaburo Ueno, a professor at the University of Tokyo, at Shibuya Station. For about two years, they kept this routine until one day Ueno did not return from school; he had a cerebral hemorrhage and died. Hachiko kept the routine and waited for his master for almost 10 years until his own death.

But there are many other canines whose exploits were extraordinary in some way. They did the unexpected, doing things that will surprise you. Some saved their owners’ lives or stayed by their loved ones’ sides even after death.

It is for loyal companions like this that many dog statues around the world have been built, representing furry pet’s devotion to man. If you are a pet lover, you may find yourself wanting to hug these dogs.

Theo: Afghanistan

Army dog handler Liam Tasker, 26, was inseparable from his spaniel, Theo. When Lance Corporal Tasker was shot dead in southern Afghanistan, his dog survived the shooting but suffered a fatal heart attack when it returned to the British base at Camp Bastion.

Among the many tributes to them, defense secretary Liam Fox said, “I understand that he was a dedicated and highly capable soldier, whose skills in handling dogs were second to none. He and his dog Theo had saved lives and for this, we will be eternally grateful.”

Constantine “Kostya”: Tolyatti, Russia

The only survivor of a car crash, Kostya, a German shepherd, was left behind when his dead owners were moved from the crash scene. Kostya didn’t want to leave his post hoping to see once more his dead human.

In 2002, after seven years waiting, Kostya was found dead in the woods. The story touched the citizens, who made and installed a billboard with the saying “Dogs, teach us love and devotion.”

In 2003, a bronze sculpture with Kostya’s head looking east was erected on the same spot he used to be.

Bobbie the Wonder Dog: Oregon, United States

Bobbie the Wonder Dog (1921 -1927), of Silverton, was the canine hero in a story that became a national sensation. In Feb. 1924, the two-year-old scotch-collie mix appeared on the doorstep of his owners, Mr. and Mrs. Frank Brazier.

What amazed them was that they had not seen their dog since he had disappeared six months earlier during a car trip in Indiana. The local paper published the story of Bobbie's cross-country trek, and it quickly spread to newspapers across the country.

Ruswarp: Garsdale, England

Graham Nutall was an active member of Friends of the Settle Carlisle Line, a group that fought against the Garsdale railway station and others from closure. One day Graham and Ruswarp went on their usual walk in the mountains and never came back.

After one week missing, people started to search for them but could only find Graham’s body 11 weeks later. By his side was Ruswarp, still alive and guarding his late master.

The 14-year-old Border Collie was very weak and died the same day people found them. Today, you can see Ruswarp’s sculpture at the Garsdale railway station, as if the dog is still helping his owner prevent the station from closure.

Gelert: Beddgelert, Wales

The city of Beddgelert, Wales, has a tomb and a statue for Gelert, their most famous loyal dog. The story (written on the tombstone) reads: “In the 13th century, Llewelyn, prince of North Wales, had a palace at Beddgelert. One day he went hunting without Gelert, ‘The Faithful Hound,’ who was unaccountably absent. On Llewelyn’s return, the truant, stained and smeared with blood, joyfully sprang to meet his master. The prince, alarmed, hastened to find his son and saw the infant’s cot empty, the bedclothes and floor covered with blood. The frantic father plunged his sword into the hound’s side, thinking it had killed his heir. The dog’s dying yell was answered by a child’s cry. Llewelyn searched and discovered his boy unharmed, but nearby laid the body of a mighty wolf, which Gelert had slain. The prince, filled with remorse, is said never to have smiled again. He buried Gelert here.”

Canelo: Cádiz, Spain

Canelo accompanied this old man wherever he went. One of the places the dog used to walk him to was the hospital, as this man suffered from renal complications. Canelo always waited for his friend at the building’s exit to return home.

One day, his owner suffered complications during dialysis and died. On that day, Canelo waited at the hospital exit, and the next day, and the next—for 12 years! Until one day, a car on a street nearby killed Canelo. Today in Cádiz you can see not only a monument but also a street named in his honor.

Meow if you love cats

If you’ve ever lost a beloved kitty, you may have built a little monument to remember him or her in your garden. For cat lovers, here are a few monuments to cats that can be found all over the world.

Towser: Glenturret Distillery, Scotland

Towser, a long-haired tortoiseshell, was the resident feline pest control expert at Glenturret Distillery in Scotland from 1963 till 1987. The inscription on her statue reads: “Towser, the famous cat who lived in the still house, Glenturret Distillery, for almost 24 years. She caught 28,899 mice in her lifetime. World mousing champion, Guinness Book of Records.”

Mrs. Chippy: New Zealand

Mrs. Chippy was a tabby cat that accompanied Sir Ernest Shackleton’s Imperial Trans-Antarctic Expedition in 1914. The cat was brought onboard the ship by its carpenter, Harry McNish (nicknamed “Chippy”).

When the ship, Endurance, became trapped in ice, it was decided that the animals would have to be shot.

In 2004 a life-size bronze statue monument of Mrs. Chippy was placed on the grave of McNish by the New Zealand Antarctic Society in recognition of his efforts on the expedition.

Monument to homeless cats: Braunschweig, Germany

German sculptor Siegfried Neuenhausen designed a 1981 monument to homeless cats in Braunschweig, Germany.

Tombili: Istanbul, Turkey

Tombili was a cat made internet-famous when a photo of him lounging went viral online. It’s not known if Tombili had a home of his own, but the cat’s chubby body and sweet demeanor suggest he had plenty of humans who made sure he was taken care of.

A petition, signed by 17,280 people, asked for a sculpture of the famous cat, so sculptor Seval Şahin built a commemorative monument. The sculpture was revealed on World Animal Day, Oct. 4, 2016, in the same location where Tombili posed for the famous picture.

Gotokuji Temple: Tokyo, Japan

Gotokuji is a Buddhist temple in Tokyo, the birthplace of the Maneki-Neko—the lucky cat. It is said that a wealthy samurai was taking shelter under a tree near the temple when he noticed the temple priest’s cat beckoning him to take shelter inside.

Just as he approached the cat, the tree he’d been sheltering under was struck by lightning. Grateful that the cat had saved his life, the wealthy samurai gifted the temple with funding for its upkeep. When the cat died, a statue was created in his likeness, thus creating the “lucky cat” we know today.

Love is true if it is unconditional—pet love included.