In the 1860s, two stray dogs called Bummer and Lazarus were given the run of the city of San Francisco at a time when any other stray dog would have been rounded up and thrown in the pound. But Bummer and Lazarus were different—they were celebrities. The newspapers of the day reported their doggy exploits as if they were Posh and Becks or Brad and Angelina. If they got into a fight with rival dogs, the papers often printed an exaggerated account of it the next day, complete with eyewitness testimony and a dramatized cartoon of the event. Even Mark Twain took time out from working on Huckleberry Finn to write about them.
The reason they were so beloved was due to their close friendship. Bummer started off as tough mutt who begged people for scraps, hence his name. When another stray arrived in the city and lost a fight, witnesses thought he’d be torn to shreds…until Bummer came running in to fight off his attacker. As Bummer nursed the injured dog back to health, it was given a new name—Lazarus. Their legend grew and every twist and turn of their friendship was reported on. When Bummer was shot in the leg and Lazarus didn’t look after him, there was uproar, with the whole city turning on Lazarus. This weird press fascination went on until both dogs died. And even after that, the coverage continued, with each newspaper accusing the other of publishing erroneous details about the dogs’ deaths.