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20 Special Dog Moments in America

By: Alex Lieber

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Picking the top dog moments in canine history is no easy task. Where, in the thousands of years of human companionship, do you start? The appropriate place to begin is the beginning – the first time dog decided to cast his lot with man some 12,000 years ago.

The moment may have been recorded as drawings on cave walls, but the artist failed to date his work. So instead, we're selecting the top 20 moments of recent history that we can put a date to. For the individual dog, his top moments come each day when he gets to play with his owner.

1884: Twelve men meeting in Philadelphia establish the American Kennel Club. Each man was a delegate from a dog club that had held dog shows or run field trials. Modeled on its British forerunner, the AKC becomes the nation's premier dog club.

1896: The first official pet cemetery in the United States, the Hartsdale Pet Cemetery, is established in Hartsdale, N.Y.

1908: The dog biscuit comes to the United States, marketed as "Malatoid" by the F. H. Bennett Biscuit Co. The recipe was bought from a London butcher who tried to make biscuits for people. It tasted terrible to customers, but his dog loved it. In 1915, the name is changed to Milk Bone because cow's milk was a primary ingredient.

1916: Stubby, a bull terrier, wins a gold medal and honorary title of sergeant for his heroism during World War I. Stubby warned of pending gas attacks, stopped a German infiltrator, found wounded soldiers on the battlefield and was wounded in action.

1918: A tiny, shivering German shepherd puppy is rescued from abandoned German trenches after WWI. The dog is brought home and soon becomes known worldwide as Rin Tin Tin.

1923: Rin Tin Tin stars in the first of what would be a career of 40 movies, enduring longer than many human actors of the time.

1925: With snow and freezing weather blocking air travel, dogs are the only way to deliver serum to combat a deadly diphtheria outbreak in Nome, Alaska. The run is over 600 miles, but the dogs make it in time.

1929: The Seeing Eye, a school for training guide dogs for the blind, is established in the United States.

1940: Rabies in the United States begins to be controlled by a federally sponsored, state-administered vaccination program.

1941: Fala, the Scottish terrier owned by President Franklin D. Roosevelt, witnesses the signing of the Atlantic Charter, the basis of the United Nations. Winston Churchill's poodle, Rufus, also attended the historic signing.

1943: The heartwarming movie "Lassie Come Home" premiers, beginning a dynasty that has continued for decades.

1957: The Soviet Union launches a mutt named Laika into orbit, the first dog to circle the earth.

1966: President Lyndon Johnson signs the Animal Welfare Act into law, the first such federal legislation to protect animal rights.

1974: After years of favoring German shepherds and poodles, the American public discovers the wonders of the mixed breed dog with the release of the movie "Benji." Benji, in fact, was adopted from a humane shelter in Burbank, Calif.

1976: Iams introduces the first super-premium dog food, called Eukanuba.

1977: The Delta Society is founded in Oregon to promote the benefits of the human-animal bond.

1979: The first off-leash dog park opens as Ohlone Dog Park, in Berkeley, Calif.

1982: The Dog Museum of America opens in New York. Five years later, it moves to St. Louis. The name was changed to the American Kennel Club Museum of the Dog.

1990: Millie, the springer spaniel belonging to President George and First Lady Barbara Bush writes the best-seller Millie's Book: As Dictated to Barbara Bush.

1998: Dogs suffering from cognitive dysfunction or separation anxiety are relieved by the FDA approval of the drugs Anipryl and Clomicalm.

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