It’s that time of year — the end of the year, naturally — when we get inundated with the ritual “best of” lists ticking off all those unforgettable moments or people we’ve actually usually forgotten over the past few months. And, so, if you’re not too sick of these things already, I humbly submit Pets Adviser’s own “best of” list: The 10 Biggest Dog Moments of 2011.
#1 Dog Helps Nab Osama bin Laden
The biggest dog moment of the past year may very well wind up being the biggest dog moment of the freakin’ decade. One highly trained canine member of a super-secret Navy SEALs team assisted in the raid to kill the most wanted man in the world. When “Team Six” commandos stormed the terrorist mastermind’s compound in Pakistan in May 2011, a Belgian malinois named Cairo was dropped down from the Black Hawk helicopter right alongside them. President Obama later greeted Cairo in a private ceremony, honoring the dog and the rest of Team Six for a job well done.
#2 Tsunami Dog Won’t Leave His Pal’s Side
The tsunami and nuclear disaster in Japan in March 2011 produced so much aching sadness that it was incredibly uplifting to hear that even amid such tragedy, good things can happen. One of those rare heartwarming stories from Japan also happens to be #2 on our list of the best dog moments of the past year. At the time we called it Ultimate Loyalty: video footage of a shivering, mud-covered dog refusing to leave the side of another dog, who was gravely injured. It’s not clear what has become of these two animals, but reportedly both were rescued and given medical care.
#3 Dog Grieves Fallen Soldier
It was one of the most shared images of the year: the mournful photo of a dog lying next to the flag-draped casket of his old friend, a Navy SEAL who had died in Afghanistan. The dog, a chocolate Lab named Hawkeye, walked up to the casket during the funeral service, let out a heaving sigh, then dropped to the shiny floor of the high school gym.
Petty Officer 1st Class Jon Tumilson was one of 30 American service members (and a dog) killed when a Chinook helicopter was brought down by a rocket-propelled grenade.
#4 Best in Shows
#5 World’s Oldest Dog — 26 Years
A cute pup named Pusuke, who was just shy of turning 27 years old, died this year in Japan, land of long-living humans. This spunky pet, listed in the Guinness World Records, lived twice the median age of dogs!
#6 That’s a Pricey Dog Toy!
A diamond-studded necklace containing a pearl once chewed by one of Liz Taylor’s dogs recently fetched a staggering $11.8 million at auction, a record price. The — cough, cough! — 50.6 carat pear-shaped pearl was a Valentine’s Day gift for Liz from Richard Burton in 1969. The actress misplaced the jewelry once, and was horrified to find her lhasa apso chewing on it. Bad dog! Though, judging by the whopping auction price, doggie slobber of yore doesn’t seem to matter much.
#7 Spanning From Broadway to Hollywood
Best-selling book (and movie) Because of Winn-Dixie is being turned into a Broadway-style musical. Also, an Annie revival is slated to open next October, which means that, yes, the sun’ll come out tomorrow for beloved canine character Sandy. Meanwhile, Uggie the Jack Russell walked the red carpet at the Cannes Film Festival this year and snagged the Palm Dog Prize for The Artist, a film that now has its sights set on the Golden Globes and Academy Awards. (Too bad there’s no dog Oscar!)
#8 High-Profile Dog Adoptions
Celebrity dog adoptions/rescues this year include: Denise Richards (a blind dog named Preston and a terrier mix named Chocolate Chip); Selena Gomez (Baylor); Robert Pattinson (Bear); Jane Lynch (Francis); Joey “Whoah!” Lawrence (Tiffany); Hillary Swank; and Emma Stone. Charlize Theron is an avid dog rescuer, and recently adopted a pair of mutts, as did Katherine Heigl. It also emerged that George Clooney adopted a cocker spaniel mix named Einstein in 2010.
Meanwhile, shame on Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg, who claimed to have “adopted” his puppy, Beast, earlier this year, but actually bought him from a breeder. Sorry, but buying from a breeder does not = adopting.
Wearing only a pair of panties and a smile, topless actress Katherine Heigl of “Knocked Up” held aloft one very lucky dog in a public service announcement ad to promote pet spay/neuter programs. The promotion is called “I Hate Balls.”
#10 Well, There Goes Trouble
The richest dog in the world, Leona Helmsley’s beloved Trouble, died this past summer. The ultra-pampered maltese had inherited an astounding $12 million from her mom when Helmsley died four years ago. (A judge later knocked that amount down to $2 million — but still!)
- Coolest Book of the Year: Chewed, by Arne Svenson and Ron Warren, is a beautiful book of photographs taken of totally destroyed dog toys — all of them playthings that were loved and then discarded.
- Best Twist of Irony: The former home of NFL dog fighter Michael Vick is being converted into a sanctuary for rescued dogs.
- Strangest Dog Trick: New information emerged about a dog trained to mock Hitler during the World War II era. Apparently the Nazis were upset enough to obsessively investigate this “insult against the German Reich.” The dog, named Jackie, would raise her paw high in the air when someone yelled, “Heil Hitler!”
- Most Popular Dog of 2011: For the 20th year in a row, the Labrador retriever was found to be America’s favorite dog breed, according to the American Kennel Club.
- Best Commercial of the Year: A racing pug really, really wants some Doritos, and is willing to knock down a door or two to get ‘em. Here it is: