The Feb. 27, 1928, cover of TIME
TIME
By Lily Rothman
August 26, 2015

In honor of National Dog Day—celebrated on Aug. 26–allow us to look back at the the first nonhuman to be a TIME cover subject: a basset hound puppy who was a born show dog with champion parents. But the story, which was prompted by the 1928 Westminster Kennel Club dog show, took a much broader look at the state of dogs in America.

“It would be idle to suppose that the tiny fraction of the U. S. canine population which last week posed and strutted in Madison Square Garden was in any sense the most important,” TIME noted. “Other dogs did not pause last week, in the performance of their deeds and duties, to admire the antics of these prototypes.”

Among the canine feats highlighted by TIME was one particularly heroic pooch:

In Manhattan, Max, a police dog, watched his owner, one Gilbert Kirkwood, a plasterer, going to sleep with a cigaret in his mouth. When he saw that Gilbert Kirkwood’s cigaret had dropped and ignited the bedclothes, Max dragged the burning bedclothes away from Gilbert Kirkwood and put them in the kitchen. Then he dragged Gilbert Kirkwood, overcome by smoke, off the bed and put him in the kitchen right next the bedclothes. After this, Max barked until a policeman came to revive Gilbert Kirkwood and to extinguish both his bedclothes and the conflagration caused by dragging these from room to room.

Read more stories of 1920s canine heroism in the TIME Vault: Putting on the Dog

Read next: 21 Reasons This Dog Is the Best Dog in the World

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