Dogs and religion are a divine combination. From St Roche, a saint who was comforted by his dog, to St Christopher, who was often depicted with a dog’s head, to St Guinefort, a dog who was made a saint, humanity’s love for dogs has often come close to worship. On a more mundane level monks and churches would often keep dogs to guard their gates. One monastery in Bolivia has decided that one dog is such a good boy that he deserves his own uniform. Friar Carmelo is a schnauzer. Carmelo was photographed dressed in a miniature version of the monks’ own habit taken from a puppet used to amuse children. Since then the canine friar has become a social media darling. His internet fans have dubbed him Friar Moustache for his distinctive facial hair.
While the official belief of Catholics is that animals cannot get into heaven because they lack eternal souls (their souls ᴅɪᴇ with their boᴅɪᴇs) some popes have left the Pearly Gates a little ajar for our animal friends. Pope Paul VI told one boy whose dog had ᴅɪᴇd that “One day, we will see our animals again in the eternity of Christ. Paradise is open to all of God’s creatures.”
Max the Mayor
Even the most beloved of politicians will have their detractors. You would be hard pushed however to find anyone who hates the Mayor of Idyllwild, California – he’s a dog. Born Maximus Mighty-Dog Mueller II he has been mayor since he was just 11 weeks old.Mayor Max is not the first dog to be named mayor of Idyllwild. His predecessor Max I ᴅɪᴇd while in office and the current mayor was found after a hasty search for a replacement. The first Mayor Max won his position in a charity event against a range of other pets. Since Idyllwild is an unincorporated town it has no government of its own and Max’s position is mostly honorary.Max II now spends his time spreading happiness to his constituents.
A dog’s nose is incredibly sensitive. While humans have around 6 million receptors for smell dogs can have up to 300 million. Dogs also give over a much larger proportion of their brain to interpreting the smells they detect. It is not surprising then that dogs can sniff out things that might seem impossible for us to imagine.Some dogs are so sensitive to changes in smell that they can tell when their owners get sɪᴄᴋ just from their odour. Other dogs can be trained to detect certain ᴅɪsᴇᴀsᴇs in people they have never met. Daisy the dog has been trained to tell who has ᴄᴀɴᴄᴇʀ. Having checked over 6,000 samples she has correctly identified 550 people with ᴄᴀɴᴄᴇʀ – including her owner.“Daisy kept nuzzling and pawing at my chest one day, which really alarmed me,” her owner said. “I got it checked out and was told I had early stage ʙʀᴇᴀsᴛ ᴄᴀɴᴄᴇʀ.
Fortunately I was able to have it removed but if it wasn’t for Daisy it would have gone undetected for much longer and could have been more serious.”For her work in healthcare Daisy was awarded a Blue Cross Medal in 2014.
Truffles are one of the most valuable foodstuffs on the planet. Because of their symbiotic relationship with trees and their complex life cycle it is not possible for us to farm truffles. If we want their rich flavour in our food we have to go out ʜᴜɴᴛing for them – but not with our own limited noses.Some animals have much more sensitive senses of smell than we do. Pigs are well known for their ability to snuffle out truffles under the ground, but they also have a tendency to eat the truffles they locate. Dogs are much less likely to wolf down the precious fungi. Some dogs are trained to associate the distinctive smell of truffles with pleasure mere days after their birth.In Italy the Lagotto Romagnolo breed of dog is now associated mainly with truffle ʜᴜɴᴛing. It used to be a ʜᴜɴᴛing dog, and it still is – just not ʜᴜɴᴛing for animals.
Invasive species can completely wipe out a species and human attempts to halt the spread of such species can often backfire ᴛʀᴀɢɪᴄally. In one case however the results have been cute. Middle Island off the south coast of Australia is home to a colony of the world’s smallest species of penguins, but they have come under ᴛʜʀᴇᴀᴛ from foxes. The Fairy Penguins are as petite and darling as they sound but have no natural defence against foxes. Natural changes to the coast had allowed foxes to access the island when the tide was low. When researchers checked the population of penguins on the island after foxes had got to there they found that hundreds of penguins had been ᴋɪʟʟᴇᴅ. In two nights foxes had sʟᴀᴜɢʜᴛᴇʀᴇᴅ 360 of the miniature birds.It was a local chicken farmer called Swampy Marsh who came up with a solution. Used to protecting birds from ᴍᴜʀᴅᴇʀ-happy foxes he suggested using dogs to guard the penguins. In the ten years that dogs have been protecting the fairy penguins there has not been a single ᴅᴇᴀᴛʜ from foxes.