7 Memorable Corgis From Pop Culture

Holly, the Queen's corgi // YouTube
Holly, the Queen's corgi // YouTube

If you’re somehow still unaware of the cuddly cuteness that is the corgi, that’s about to change. The small herding dogs with the long bodies and adorably expressive faces have popped up everywhere, from TV shows to YouTube videos to Instagram. Take a look at some of pop culture's most memorable corgis.

1. HOLLY

Queen Elizabeth II, the current Queen of England, is a longtime lover of corgis. In 1933, her father, King George VI, brought his seven-year-old daughter Dookie, her first pup. Since then, the Queen has owned dozens of Pembroke Welsh Corgis and Dorgis (a mix between a Corgi and a Dachshund). She frequently walks them herself and has even overseen a corgi breeding program at Windsor Castle. Now 90 years old, the queen has loved and lost many of her corgis; sadly, Holly, who took starred in the 2012 London Olympics opening video, passed away in early October. Holly is buried at Balmoral Castle, the Royal Family's estate in Scotland.

2. RALPH

Born in the summer of 2013, Ralph lives in Northern California with his human family and George, their other corgi. With 238,000 Instagram followers, Ralph delights people around the world with his smiling face, joie de vivre, and overall cuteness. But Ralph’s Instagram is more than cute dog photos. Fans get to watch the story of a growing human family, as seen through a corgi’s eyes. Ralph goes through life with his mom and dad, their toddler son (a.k.a. Ralph’s broham), and their newborn baby girl. If you can’t get enough Ralph in your life, you can buy an annual wall calendar featuring him (and George) wearing bunny ears, colorful hats, and Santa caps.

3. MOLLY, "THE THING OF EVIL"

Author Stephen King's corgi Molly—who he jokingly (we think) calls "The Thing of Evil"—has become a star in her own right, thanks to King's Twitter and Facebook posts about her proclivity for stealing snacks and tearing up soccer balls. "The Thing of Evil" isn't King's first foray into corgi ownership; the author had a corgi named Marlowe in the '90s. He's even written a couple of corgis into his books, including Under the Dome's Horace.

4. EIN

YouTube

Ein, the corgi on the beloved anime Cowboy Bebop, was a main character on the Adult Swim TV show in the early 2000s. According to Cowboy Bebop lore, the crazy smart corgi is a data dog, a lab animal that was genetically engineered to have intelligence superpowers. Ein travels on a spaceship in the year 2071 with his human bounty hunter owners. Although he generally acts like a normal dog, Ein occasionally surprises his owners by showing off his computer hacking skills.

5. LOKI

Born in Oklahoma, Loki moved to Vancouver as a puppy to live with his owners, Tim and Viv. Whether he was walking on the beach, eating, or playing with his pet hamster, Loki racked up more than 800,000 Facebook fans and 700,000 Instagram followers thanks to his antics. He was also fond of costumes—some of his more memorable looks include Harry Potter (Loki Potter from Gryffincorg), Pikachu, and Sherlock Holmes (Sherloki Holmes). Earlier this year, Loki's fans were shocked and heartbroken to learn Loki had fallen ill. They banded together to raise more than $34,000 for his vet bills. Sadly, Loki passed away in September from kidney disease.

6. RUFUS

Although plenty of startups have a company dog or mascot, Rufus might be the most memorable. Born in 1994 in California, Rufus was Amazon.com’s original mascot. Owned by one of the e-commerce giant's first engineers, Rufus attended company meetings and chased tennis balls through the office. He died in 2009, but Rufus lives on in Amazon’s canine-friendly company culture. Amazon employees are free to bring their dogs to work, and Amazon's Instagram is full of photos of its furry fans (including the Rufus lookalike above). One of the company’s office buildings in Seattle is even named after the beloved pup.

7. SUTTER BROWN

Jerry Brown, the governor of California, lives and works alongside Sutter Brown, the first dog of California. Born in 2003, the Pembroke Welsh corgi lived with the governor’s sister until Brown adopted him after the 2010 election. With more than 18,000 Facebook fans, Sutter has appeared on cards to promote Brown’s tax proposals and even joins the governor in meetings at the state Capitol. Last year, Brown and his wife added to their corgi family when they adopted Colusa, a Pembroke Welsh corgi/border collie mix. In October, Sutter, 13, underwent emergency surgery to remove tumors in his intestines, lymph nodes, and liver. According to Sutter and Colusa's official Facebook page, Sutter is now convalescing at home—and feasting on his favorite foods, including cottage cheese and scrambled eggs.

Ryrkaypiy, Russia, Is Being Overrun By Hungry Polar Bears

Mario_Hoppmann/iStock via Getty Images
Mario_Hoppmann/iStock via Getty Images

Polar bears are becoming a common sight near the village of Ryrkaypiy in northeastern Russia. As CNN reports, nearly 60 bears were spotted looking for food in the area, and experts say climate change is to blame.

Normally around this time of year, Arctic sea ice is thick enough for polar bears to use it as a platform for hunting seals. Temperatures have been warmer than average this year, and without the ice to support them, hungry polar bears are being pushed south into human-occupied territories on land.

According to a statement released by World Wildlife Fund Russia, the bears gathering in Ryrkaypiy are thin-looking and include cubs and adults of various ages. So far, they've been subsisting on walrus carcasses that have been lain on the village's shore since autumn.

No incidents between bears and villagers have been reported yet, but the 500 residents are on guard. Volunteers are now patrolling the town limits and school buses have started picking up children who would normally walk to class.

Prior to this decade, it was unusual to see more than three or five polar bears near Ryrkaypiy at a time. But as climate change drives global warming and melts Arctic sea ice, seeing large groups of polar bears at lower latitudes is no longer an anomaly. Earlier this year, Novaya Zemlya, Russia, declared a state of emergency after more than 50 bears invaded the region. As sea ice becomes more scarce, the circumstances forcing hungry polar bears to share space with people will only get worse.

[h/t CNN]

Hee-Haw: The Wild Ride of "Dominick the Donkey"—the Holiday Earworm You Love to Hate

Delpixart/iStock via Getty Images
Delpixart/iStock via Getty Images

Everyone loves Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer. He’s got the whole underdog thing going for him, and when the fog is thick on Christmas Eve, he’s definitely the creature you want guiding Santa’s sleigh. But what happens when Saint Nick reaches Italy, and he’s faced with steep hills that no reindeer—magical or otherwise—can climb?

That’s when Santa apparently calls upon Dominick the Donkey, the holiday hero immortalized in the 1960 song of the same name. Recorded by Lou Monte, “Dominick The Donkey” is a novelty song even by Christmas music standards. The opening line finds Monte—or someone else, or heck, maybe a real donkey—singing “hee-haw, hee-haw” as sleigh bells jingle in the background. A mere 12 seconds into the tune, it’s clear you’re in for a wild ride.

 

Over the next two minutes and 30 seconds, Monte shares some fun facts about Dominick: He’s a nice donkey who never kicks but loves to dance. When ol’ Dom starts shaking his tail, the old folks—cummares and cumpares, or godmothers and godfathers—join the fun and "dance a tarentell," an abbreviation of la tarantella, a traditional Italian folk dance. Most importantly, Dominick negotiates Italy’s hills on Christmas Eve, helping Santa distribute presents to boys and girls across the country.

And not just any presents: Dominick delivers shoes and dresses “made in Brook-a-lyn,” which Monte somehow rhymes with “Josephine.” Oh yeah, and while the donkey’s doing all this, he’s wearing the mayor’s derby hat, because you’ve got to look sharp. It’s a silly story made even sillier by that incessant “hee-haw, hee-haw,” which cuts in every 30 seconds like a squeaky door hinge.

There may have actually been some historical basis for “Dominick.”

“Travelling by donkey was universal in southern Italy, as it was in Greece,” Dominic DiFrisco, president emeritus of the joint Civic Committee of Italian Americans, said in a 2012 interview with the Chicago Sun-Times. “[Monte’s] playing easy with history, but it’s a cute song, and Monte was at that time one of the hottest singers in America.”

Rumored to have been financed by the Gambino crime family, “Dominick the Donkey” somehow failed to make the Billboard Hot 100 in 1960. But it’s become a cult classic in the nearly 70 years since, especially in Italian American households. In 2014, the song reached #69 on Billboard’s Holiday 100 and #23 on the Holiday Digital Song Sales chart. In 2018, “Dominick” hit #1 on the Comedy Digital Track Sales tally. As of December 2019, the Christmas curio had surpassed 21 million Spotify streams.

“Dominick the Donkey” made international headlines in 2011, when popular BBC DJ Chris Moyles launched a campaign to push the song onto the UK singles chart. “If we leave Britain one thing, it would be that each Christmas kids would listen to 'Dominick the Donkey,’” Moyles said. While his noble efforts didn’t yield a coveted Christmas #1, “Dominick” peaked at a very respectable #3.

 

As with a lot of Christmas songs, there’s a certain kitschy, ironic appeal to “Dominick the Donkey.” Many listeners enjoy the song because, on some level, they’re amazed it exists. But there’s a deeper meaning that becomes apparent the more you know about Lou Monte.

Born Luigi Scaglione in New York City, Monte began his career as a singer and comedian shortly before he served in World War II. Based in New Jersey, Monte subsequently became known as “The Godfather of Italian Humor” and “The King of Italian-American Music.” His specialty was Italian-themed novelty songs like “Pepino the Italian Mouse,” his first and only Top 10 hit. “Pepino” reached #5 on the Billboard Hot 100 in 1963, the year before The Beatles broke America.

“Pepino” was penned by Ray Allen and Wandra Merrell, the duo that teamed up with Sam Saltzberg to write “Dominick the Donkey.” That same trio of songwriters was also responsible for “What Did Washington Say (When He Crossed the Delaware),” the B-side of “Pepino.” In that song, George Washington declares, “Fa un’fridd,” or ‘It’s cold!” while making his famous 1776 boat ride.

With his mix of English and Italian dialect, Monte made inside jokes for Italian Americans while sharing their culture with the rest of the country. His riffs on American history (“What Did Washington Say,” “Paul Revere’s Horse (Ba-cha-ca-loop),” “Please, Mr. Columbus”) gave the nation’s foundational stories a dash of Italian flavor. This was important at a time when Italians were still considered outsiders.

According to the 1993 book Italian Americans and Their Public and Private Life, Monte’s songs appealed to “a broad spectrum ranging from working class to professional middle-class Italian Americans.” Monte sold millions of records, played nightclubs across America, and appeared on TV programs like The Perry Como Show and The Ernie Kovacs Show. He died in Pompano Beach, Florida, in 1989. He was 72.

Monte lives on thanks to Dominick—a character too iconic to die. In 2016, author Shirley Alarie released A New Home for Dominick and A New Family for Dominick, a two-part children’s book series about the beloved jackass. In 2018, Jersey native Joe Baccan dropped “Dominooch,” a sequel to “Dominick.” The song tells the tale of how Dominick’s son takes over for his aging padre. Fittingly, “Dominooch” was written by composer Nancy Triggiani, who worked with Monte’s son, Ray, at her recording studio.

Speaking with NorthJersey.com in 2016, Ray Monte had a simple explanation for why Dominick’s hee-haw has echoed through the generations. “It was a funny novelty song,” he said, noting that his father “had a niche for novelty.”

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