Humans aren't the only ones who deserve to celebrate their accomplishments on Labor Day — many of our canine friends have had very important vocations too.
From alarm dogs who were once employed at Tibetan monasteries to ratters who kept the vermin at bay in lace factories, the ancestors of these canine breeds have held some fascinating gigs over the centuries.
In an homage to Buddha, the bold and independent Tibetan Spaniel was originally bred by Buddhist monks to resemble a little lion. And like her Lhasa Apso cousins, the Tibbie served as a vigilant alarm dog in Tibetan monasteries.
The ancestors of the loyal Newfoundland, who hails from an eastern Canadian island, worked on land and at sea — pulling carts, swimming lifelines out to shipwreck victims, rescuing children from deep waters, and helping fishermen to haul in heavy nets.
One Newfie named Rigel, who was on the Titanic, swam next to a lifeboat for three hours while looking for his owner. People in the boat were nearly run down by a steamship because the crew couldn’t hear their weak cries, but Rigel's barks drew notice, saving everyone onboard.
The very first Doberman Pinscher was created by a tax collector named Louis Dobermann to do one very important job: keep him, along with the money that he carried, safe from thieves. Decades later, during World War II, the United States Marine Corp employed Dobermans in combat as sentries, messengers and scouts.
Early Eskimos relied on Alaskan Malamutes to pull sleds laden with people and goods across snowy, barren landscapes. During the height of the Alaska Gold Rush, miners paid sky-high prices for sled-and-dog teams — a good Malamute alone cost $500.
The name Schipperke derives from the Flemish for “little captain” because these black-coated canines once worked as watchdogs on canal boats.
The Komondor has worked as a flock-guarding dog in Hungary for a thousand years. Her job, however, was not to herd animals — but rather to guard flocks from predators and thieves by fearlessly springing into action.
Mastiffs accompanied traders and nomads throughout the world, eventually making their way to China, Russia, the Mediterranean and the Middle East. During medieval times, the dogs patrolled estates at night, looking for poachers and other intruders. The Mastiff even makes an appearance in Greek mythology — as a three-headed canine guardian of the underworld.
French Bulldogs actually originated in Nottingham, England, where small Bulldogs were popular pets with local laceworkers who used the canines to rid workrooms of pesky rats. When some of the lacemakers moved to France, where their skills were in demand, they took their beloved pups with them — and the dogs eventually took on the name of their new country.
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