Remember the story of Greyfriars Bobby, the little Skye terrier who stood watch over his master’s grave in Greyfriars Kirkyard for 14 years?
If you visit Scotland’s capital city of Edinburgh, among the sights you’ll see – if you can get past the hordes of tourists surrounding it – is a memorial to Bobby, honoring his loyalty and, perhaps by extension, the loyalty of all dogs. The statue is smaller than expected, but it draws crowds, who then overflow to the nearby churchyard where Bobby’s beloved owner, John Gray, lies.
Memorials to the love, loyalty and bravery of dogs, cats and other animals are found ’round the world. Devotion cast in bronze or sculpted on a wall, they stand as inspiring tributes to animals who have been our companions, guardians, soldiers and helpers. As you travel, keep an eye out for their monuments, and whisper thanks to them for their affection, fidelity, valor and labor.
A number of memorials honor dogs and other animals for their military service. Dogs have delivered messages, laid telegraph wires, detected mines, dug out bomb victims and served guard or patrol duty. Horses and mules have pulled artillery, transported supplies and carried officers into battle. Other animals who contributed and died in wartime include pigeons, elephants, camels, oxen, cats, canaries and glowworms (which provided light to read maps or orders).
In London, the Animals in War Memorial recognizes all such animals. A curved stone wall, located on the edge of Hyde Park, bears their images. Alongside it are two bronze pack mules, a bronze horse and bronze dog.
“Four pounds of courage.” That’s the description of Smoky, a Yorkshire terrier from Australia who helped lay communication lines in the Philippines during World War II. After the war, she entertained hospital patients and children in orphanages with her tricks. Smoky has seven memorials around the world: Brisbane, Australia; Lakewood, Ohio; the AKC Museum of the Dog in St. Louis; Hickham Air Force Base in Hawaii; Ohio Veterinary Medical Association Animal Hall of Fame in Columbus, Ohio; University of Tennessee College of Veterinary Medicine in Knoxville; and the city of Eastlake, Ohio.
The United States War Dogs Memorial in Holmdel, N.J., features a bronze statue of a Vietnam War soldier and his dog.
The National War Dog Cemetery at Naval Base Guam features the famous Doberman Kurt and pays tribute to the Doberman pinschers and other dogs killed at the Second Battle of Guam in 1944. A replica of the memorial is at the University of Tennessee College of Veterinary Medicine in Knoxville.
Other war dog memorials are at March Air Force Base in Riverside, California; the National Infantry Museum at Fort Benning, Georgia; the Military Working Dog Teams National Monument at Lackland Air Force Base in San Antonio; the Marine Corps Memorial Garden at Camp Pendleton in California; and the National Museum of the Marine Corps in Quantico, Virginia.
Visit New York City’s Central Park to see the statue of Balto, the lead sled dog whose team helped to deliver diphtheria serum to snowbound Nome, Alaska, during a deadly epidemic in January 1925.
Feline memorials honor cats primarily for companionship. Trim accompanied Capt. Matthew Flinders on his circumnavigation of Australia, and his statue is in Sydney just behind that of Flinders. Towser the Mouser is recognized with a bronze statue for ridding Glenturret Distillery in Perthshire, Scotland, of 28,899 mice over her lifetime of employment there. Hodge, Samuel Johnson’s cat, is portrayed sitting atop a dictionary near the famed lexicographer’s home in London. The inscription: “A very fine cat indeed.” And who can forget Dick Whittington’s cat, whose mousing prowess legendarily aided the 14th-century thrice-elected mayor’s success. The cat’s statue is located at the foot of London’s Highgate Hill.
Cat bites after petting
Q: My brother’s cat will come over to people purring, so we’ll pet her, and then all of a sudden she bites.
A: That’s a common complaint of many cat owners. It’s one of the weird things about cats: As much as they love being petted, they can take only so much of it. Too much petting causes them to become overstimulated; that’s when they lash out with tooth or claw.
Some cats give little warning before nailing you. Others give several clear warnings before taking matters into their own jaws (or paws).
Signs that a cat has had enough stroking can be as subtle as a flick of the tail, twitch of the ear or shiver of the skin. The whiskers may rotate forward. When you see these signs, stop immediately.
You can work to increase a cat’s tolerance of petting. Sit down next to her instead of picking her up for petting. Don’t pet her while you’re doing something else that holds your attention, such as watching television; you need to be able to watch her body language so you know when to stop.
Start by petting less sensitive areas of the body: behind the ears, beneath the chin and at the base of the tail (the area where it joins the body). Some cats are easily set off by long strokes down the back, and the belly should be completely off-limits.
Try to gradually pet the cat for longer periods, always stopping just short of the point where she becomes uncomfortable. Giving a treat during the petting party can also help to increase the cat’s enjoyment and toleration of the experience.
Finally, it’s always a good idea to take the cat in for a vet check to make sure nothing physical is causing the behavior.
Dr. Marty Becker and Mikkel Becker
Pet Connection is produced by a team of pet-care experts headed by veterinarian Dr. Marty Becker and Kim Campbell Thornton, author of many pet-care books. The two are affiliated with Vetstreet.com.