The 2010s were filled with good dogs—way too many to fit into a single list. If you want a condensed look at some of the best canine accomplishments of the decade, this is a good place to start. From political trailblazers to lifesaving heroes, these dogs succeeded in making the world a better, cuter place.
1. Duke the Dog Mayor
Duke may not have been the most influential politician of the past decade, but he was by far the most loveable. The Great Pyrenees was elected mayor of Cormorant, Minnesota, in 2014. It marked the first time in 140 years the town had a mayor of any species, and with no challengers willing to go paw-to-toe with the canine, Duke was re-elected three more times before passing away in 2019.
2. Frida the Rescue Dog
Following the earthquake that devastated Central Mexico in September 2017, rescue workers assembled to sift through the rubble. One of them was a 7-year-old lab named Frida. Equipped with goggles, booties, and a harness, she crawled into spaces humans couldn’t reach to sniff out survivors and locate victims. The earthquake was just one of the disasters she responded to over her impressive career as a rescue dog. In June 2019, Frida retired after nearly 10 years of service.
3. Gracie the Bark Ranger
In 2016, Gracie the border collie became the first-ever employee-owned “bark ranger” at a U.S. national park. Her job at Glacier National Park in Montana includes shepherding bighorn sheep and mountain goats away from highly-trafficked areas where they pose a threat to visitors. News of her hard work has spread far beyond the park: Her official Instagram account @barkrangernps has 22,400 followers.
4. The Environmentalist Golden Retriever
One dog owner in China put his golden retriever’s breed instincts to good use this decade. When told to “retrieve,” the pup learned to wade into the polluted waterways of the eastern Jiangsu province to fetch discarded plastic bottles. The clever trick led to the dog collecting up to 30 bottles from rivers a day.
5. Pero The Sheepdog Who Traveled 240 Miles Home
Dogs have been known to go to incredible lengths to be reunited with their families. On April 8, 2016, a 4-year-old sheepdog named Pero showed up on his former owners’ doorstep in Wales after he had been sold to farmers in England just 12 days earlier. That meant the dog had traveled 240 miles to find the place he once called home. Though they had originally sold him, Pero’s old owners decided to welcome him back into their family after he made the impressive trek.
6. Riley the Art Conservationist
A dog’s snoot is capable of amazing things. At the Museum of Fine Arts in Boston, one dog’s sniffing skills were used to identify pests that posed a threat to precious paintings and artifacts. Riley the weimaraner was still just a puppy when he joined the institution as a volunteer in January 2018. By learning to identify moths, termites, beetles, and other art-munching bugs by their scents, he was able to help conservationists keep the museum’s inventory safe.
7 & 8. Cullen and Romulus, The First Identical Twin Dogs
Even though they’re usually born in litters, dogs almost never share all of their DNA with their siblings. The first exception was recorded in 2016, when two Irish wolfhound puppies delivered in the same placenta were found to be genetically identical to one another. Though there likely have been identical twin dogs born in the past, Cullen and Romulus were the first case to be documented with DNA analysis.