When soccer’s World Cup was stolen from a display case in London in 1966, the week that followed saw huge tabloid headlines, a ransom demand, threats to melt the trophy down and a botched undercover police operation to exchange a bag of fake money for the treasured hunk of gold.
It wasn’t until seven days after the theft that the trophy the best minds of Scotland Yard were unable to find was easily sniffed out by a re-homed, furniture-chewing mutt named Pickles.
England was hosting the World Cup that year, and ended up winning it, but if not for Pickles there might have been no trophy to hoist.
Pickles was a four-year-old border collie mix whose owner, Dave Corbett, had taken him in as a puppy when his brother could no longer put up with his habit of chewing up furniture.
The cup had been on display in central London, and supposedly was being heavily guarded when it was stolen in the months leading up to the tournament.
Police made the case a high priority, but were still stumbling by the time Pickles, out for a walk, sniffed out the Jules Rimet Trophy in a clump of shrubs. That was 50 years ago yesterday.
“I put the lead on Pickles and he went over to the neighbor’s car,” Corbett recalled in this recent interview with the BBC.
“Pickles drew my attention to a package, tightly bound in newspaper, lying by the front wheel. I picked it up and tore some paper and saw a woman holding a dish over her head, and disks with the words Germany, Uruguay, Brazil. I rushed inside to my wife. She was one of those anti-sport wives. But I said, ‘I’ve found the World Cup! I’ve found the World Cup!'”
Corbett duly rushed the cup to the police station, and immediately became a suspect.
Two days earlier, the police investigation had taken a turn for the worse, according to The Guardian.
A man calling himself Jackson had contacted league officials about how they might reclaim the trophy for £15,000.
An undercover officer was sent to meet Jackson and make the exchange, but Jackson became suspicious it was a set up and fled.
He was caught, but the trophy was not.
Jackson’s real name was Edward Betchley, a small-time thief, and he would only admit to being a middleman.
He refused to disclose the location of the trophy.
Once police became assured Corbett had no part in the theft, he would get the reward money for the trophy, and Pickles became a celebrity. He starred in a feature film, appeared on numerous TV shows and was proclaimed Dog of the Year.
After England’s 4-2 victory over West Germany in the World Cup final, Corbett and Pickles were invited to a party celebrating the victory.
The World Cup trophy would be stolen again in 1983 in Brazil, and never recovered.
Pickles died the year after his big find. He saw a cat and took off, his leash trailing behind him. Somehow it got tangled on a tree limb and the dog choked to death.
Corbett buried him in the garden behind his house in Surrey — the house that, thanks to Pickles, he was able to buy with the reward money.
Posted by John Woestendiek March 28th, 2016 under Muttsblog, videos.
Tags: animals, bbc, dave corbett, dog, dogs, england, football, found, history, investigation, jules rimet trophy, london, pets, pickles, police, ransom, scotland yard, soccer, stolen, world cup
A formerly homeless man who once sold his sketches for pocket change on the streets of London’s now sells them for thousands of dollars at exhibits — and credits his dog for turning his life around.
Up until a few years ago, John Dolan, 43, had been a heroin addict whose life had seen more than 300 criminal convictions, 30 stints in prison and long stretches of homelessness.
He was living on the streets when he took in George. The young Staffordshire bull terrier had been living with another homeless couple who had had acquired him in exchange for a can of beer. They’d found housing, but not dog-friendly housing, and George needed a home.
Dolan, who hadn’t exactly been living a life of responsibility, was worried about whether he was up to having a dog.
“How was I going to cope with him? I couldn’t even cope with myself,” he told the Guardian.
But George, he noticed, had a way of looking him in the eye when he talked, and the two quickly bonded. Dolan says it was the fear of losing George if he went to prison again that led him to give up crime.
“He’s like my child in a sense and I feel obliged to keep a roof over his head and keep him warm,” he said.
Of course, George was helping Dolan out in other ways, too. Dolan made more money panhandling when George was at his side. Still, Dolan says, he felt embarassed by begging.
“Sitting there holding out my hand was so embarrassing, so degrading. I didn’t like to look at people as they went past. I picked up the pen mainly so I could bury my head in a drawing pad.”
He started drawing the buildings, and drawing George, and, sitting with his dog on the sidewalk, he would sell the drawings for whatever he could get.
Then he was discovered. First he was commissioned to do some drawings for a book. Then a gallery director, Richard Howard-Griffin, asked if he would draw some large streetscapes for him.
Last fall he had his first exhibit. His second is now underway at the Howard Griffin Gallery in London, with proceeds being donated to The Big Issue Foundation and Battersea Dogs and Cats Home.
Another exhibit, in Los Angeles, is in the works. And Dolan has published a book, “John and George: The Dog Who Changed My Life.”
Dolan has a home now, but still sits on the street and draws, with George.
“I feel like he’s a guardian angel. If it hadn’t been for him I’d have never picked up my pen.”
(Top pPhoto: David Levene / the Guardian)
Posted by John Woestendiek July 21st, 2014 under Muttsblog.
Tags: addict, angel, animals, art, artist, battersea dogs and cats home, big issue foundation, discovered, dog, dogs, george, guardian, homeless, homelessness, howard griffin gallery, john and george, john dolan, london, pets, poverty, responsibility, staffordshire bull terrier, street artist, the dog who changed my life
His own dog’s DNA helped convict a reputed gang member in south London of the murder of a 16-year-old.
Oluwaseyi Ogunyemi was killed in a “vicious” attack by a gang of youths who set upon him and his friends with their dogs. One of the dogs, a Staffordshire bull terrier-bull mastiff cross called Tyson, brought Ogunyemi down as he tried to climb over a fence, after which the youth was stabbed six times by its owner Chrisdian Johnson.
Johnson was arrested as he fled the scene of the murder last April, bare-chested and covered in blood.
New DNA technology proved by a billion-to-one probability that some of the blood on Johnson came from his dog Tyson, who had been knifed during the fighting. The rest came from Ogunyemi.
Johnson was also found guilty of the attempted murder of Seyi’s 17-year-old friend Hurui Hiyabum, whom he stabbed nine times.
Scientists used DNA profiling to prove that samples collected during the investigation were a billion times more likely to come from two specific dogs involved in the attack than any other animals, the BBC reported.
Police hailed the dog DNA technology, which had just been developed at the time of the murder, as a “hugely powerful investigative tool”.
Posted by John Woestendiek March 19th, 2010 under Muttsblog, videos.
Tags: animal, attack, beating, chrisdian johnson, convicted, courts, crime, dna, dogs, gang, gangs, guilty, investigation, law, london, mauling, member, murder, news, oluwaseyi ogunyemi, pets, pit bulls, stabbing, technology, tyson, verdict
French artist Céleste Boursier-Mougenot creates works by drawing on the rhythms of daily life to produce sound in unexpected ways.
For his installation in The Curve in London, Boursier-Mougenot created a walk-though aviary for a flock of zebra finches, furnished with electric guitars and other musical instruments. As the birds go about their routine activities, perching on or feeding from the various pieces of equipment, they create a captivating, live soundscape.
The exhibit runs from Feb. 27 to May 23.
Posted by John Woestendiek February 6th, 2010 under Muttsblog, videos.
Tags: animals, art, aviary, birds, boursier-mougenot, celeste boursier-mougenot, electric guitars, exhibit, instruments, life, london, nature, rhythms, soundscape, the curve, zebra finches
A new wave of dogfighting is sweeping England, resulting in a 12-fold increase in dogfights since 2004.
And most practitioners — about two of every three — are youths, the Royal SPCA says.
A BBC report quotes RSPCA officials as saying a ban on four breeds, including pit bulls, has done little to slow the spread of dogfighting, or dogs biting people, and that a change in the law is needed.
The new wave of dog fighting, known as “chain fighting” or “rolling,” involves fights held in inner city public parks, on private estates and even in apartment elevators where “young people, often gangs of young people … put two dogs in a lift at the top of the block of flats and will press the button and let the dogs fight until they get to the bottom,” the RPSCA’s Claire Robinson told BBC News. Read more »
Posted by John Woestendiek October 5th, 2009 under Muttsblog.
Tags: attacks, ban, bites, breed, breeds, chain fighting, dog, dogfighting, dogs, elevators, enforcement, england, fighting, gangs, increase, law, london, parks, rolling, royal spca, rspca, surge, uk, young, youth
Elle Macpherson’s labradoodle is starring in a national advertising campaign as the face of Dogside.com, a dog fashion brand.
The brand boasts that five-year-old Bella is ideal for showing off its leads, coats, scarves and bowls for “today’s stylish urban dog.”
Macpherson, 46 — known as “The Body” during her modeling days, known as a millionaire businesswoman now — has her own lingerie and cosmetics lines, and has often been photographed walking Bella near her Notting Hill home, according to London’s Daily Mail. Bella is being promoted as “The Dog’s Body.”
Macpherson is said to be receiving a five-figure sum for her dog’s work.
Posted by John Woestendiek August 28th, 2009 under Muttsblog.
Tags: advertising, animals, bella, campaign, dog, dogs, dogside, dogside.com, elle mcpherson, england, fashion, labradoodle, london, model, modeling, pets, urban dog
A 12-week-old Chihuahua named Smokey survived two days with a barbecue fork in his head.
Smokey was being fed some table scraps at a backyard barbecue in London, Kentucky, when the person scraping scraps into his dish used the fork to shoo away another dog. The handle broke, sending the prongs flying into the dog’s skull, said veterinarian Mark Smith.
Smokey immediately ran off into the woods, where he hid for two days. When Smokey finally returned home, he was alive, and the large fork was still stuck in his head.
He was rushed to the Cumberland Valley Animal Hospital where Dr. Smith, after taking X-rays, anesthetized Smokey, disinfected the area around the fork, and simply pulled it out.
Smokey is recovering. “His nerve endings around the eye still seem to be a little slow but I think that will heal over time, he really is a little miracle,” a second veterinarian said.
Dr. Smith ordered six weeks of bed rest for Smokey, most of which will be spent in a crate.
Posted by John Woestendiek July 15th, 2009 under Muttsblog.
Tags: accident, animal hospital, back yard, barbecue, barbeque, brain, chihuahua, cranium, cumberland valley, dog, dogs, fork, freak, head, kentucky, london, penetrate, pets, runaway, smokey, stuck, survives, utensil