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Man’s best friend, the dog. Surely you’ve petted one of these cuties at some point, or cuddled up with them in bed. Or maybe you’ve thrown a stick as far as you can, and every time a happy creature retrieves it. Dogs are a big part of human life, and here are ten facts you probably had no idea about when it comes to man’s best friend.

Dogs and humans are the only known species to seek visual contact…

Humans and dogs are the only known species to seek visual contact from another individual’s eyes, and dogs only do this when interacting with humans. However, this is not something dogs did originally but rather developed thanks to their long-standing bond with humans. [source]

That’s why there are spike dog collars…

Spike dog collars (as seen in the picture below) are often seen on guard dogs, especially in American movies. But these collars originally had a purpose – they were invented in ancient Greece and were originally designed to protect the dog’s neck from wolf attacks. [source]

Dog training gone awry…

The Soviet Union trained dogs to serve as tank bombers, but because they used Soviet tanks to train the dogs, the dogs attacked their own tanks instead of their German targets when it came to real combat. [source]

A new breed played wolves in Game of Thrones…

During season one of HBO’s hit series Game of Thrones, the fearsome wolves were played by a relatively new dog breed known as the Northern Inuit Dog. The picture below is from the filming of the show with the “wolves.” [source]

A 3-year-old girl survived 11 days thanks to her dog…

In 2014, a 3-year-old Russian girl survived for 11 days in a Siberian Taiga Forest by drinking from a stream and eating berries while being protected by her Siberian Husky dog, who went to seek help after nine days and returned with rescue personnel. [source]

The Canary Islands are related to dogs, not birds…

The Canary Islands were named after the Latin word for dog (Canariae Insulae, “Islands of the Dogs”). It is the canary birds that are named after the island, not the other way around. [source]

And that’s why all hospitals should be dog-equipped…

Using a basic food reward system, normal household dogs were trained to detect both lung and breast cancer with 90-100% success when confirmed through biopsy, simply by sniffing the patient’s breath. This was achieved after just a few weeks of training. [source]

That’s why dogs love to be scratched behind the ears…

Scratching behind your dog’s ears sends nerve impulses to the hypothalamus and pituitary gland. These glands release endorphins, pain-relieving, feel-good hormones that make dogs feel relaxed, even euphoric. When you scratch your dog’s ears, it’s basically getting high on its own hormones. [source]

Specific dog breed best for guarding sheep…

There is a dog breed called the Komondor (as seen in the picture below) that is bred to guard sheep because their dreadlocks are too thick for wolves to bite through – and ironically, they look like sheep. [source]

Talk about good hearing…

During World War II in Australia, there was an Australian Kelpie named Gunner whose hearing was so sharp that he could warn the Air Force personnel of incoming Japanese planes 20 minutes before they arrived, and before they appeared on radar. He could also distinguish the sounds of allied planes from enemy aircraft. [source]

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