It is probably fair to say that dogs are the most loved animal in the world. While cats have a great following (and were even worshipped by the ancient Egyptians) dogs are much better. They are man’s best friend, a loyal companion, and great fun. Despite all of this there is clear evidence that we don’t give dogs enough credit, that we don’t praise them enough, and that we still don’t truly respect all they have done for us. No, I am not talking about how many treats you give your dog, I am sure you give too many. I am in the annals of history we need to show more of the achievements of the dog. Dogs have had a massive impact on literature, the arts, and science. Today we want to cast a lens on the scientific achievements of the canine.
A cave discovery like no other
The Lascaux caves in France are incredibly famous for containing some of the most impressive prehistoric artwork ever found. What many people don’t realize is that while Marcel Ravidat claimed the discovery, it was actually his dog, Robot, that should have won the accolades. Marcel took Robot out for a walk one day. Robot fell in a foxhole and continued to bark until Marcel found him. Robot had led Marcel to one of the biggest archeological finds of the last 100 hundred years.
While we all know the names of the people who have been to space, do you know the names of the dogs? Laika was the first dog to orbit the earth in 1957. The Soviets actually started sending dogs to space as early as 1951 but Laika was the first to orbit the entire earth. Sadly at this time scientists were unable to get a spaceship to reenter earth so Laika’s life was doomed from her first mission. Things got worse on board as the screen broke and she died of overheating in the craft. However, she did manage to stay alive long enough to claim this record.
Return to Earth
Strelka and Belka were the first dogs to safely reenter Earth after a trip to space. They went on to live happy lives and died of old age leaving a long line of dogs in their litter to continue their strong name. This mission was so successful that in under one year the Soviets decided to send Yuri Gagarin into space. Who knows, if the Soviets didn’t have such courageous dogs, perhaps they wouldn’t have done so well in the space race.
While many people protested the sending of dogs to space, especially when their fates were known to be doomed, scientists argue that it paved the way for human travel and was a worthwhile sacrifice. The same protests take place when dogs (or other animals) are used for testing medicines and other chemicals.
Yet dogs have been involved in some of the most important breakthroughs in science. Marjorie was a leading test subject in the process that created what we now know as insulin. Marjorie survived two months with daily injections and many point to her as the turning point in the introduction of the drug.
Today dogs are at the heart of the coronavirus pandemic. It now appears that dogs can be trained to tell if someone has the virus simply by scent. If this is true it could radically change how we protect borders during this pandemic and in the future.
Dogs are incredible animals and we truly don’t deserve them. While many have made sacrifices for the desires of mankind they are also just fantastic pets. If you have a dog you will know that they will do anything to help you and are one of the kindest animals in the world.