The most newsworthy dogs of 2010

These pups and their unusual stories made headlines and, more often than not, captured our hearts

Target: The dog war hero
(Image credit: Screen shot)

The First Family's new puppy, Bo, was the media's top dog in 2009, courting controversy and White House photographers. While no comparable canine superstar emerged in 2010, a whole new litter of furry friends made news. Here are seven dog stories that made us bark:

1. Mia

After being euthanized because of spinal problems, this 11-year-old Rottweiler stunned veterinarians and her Detroit-based owner by coming back to life. Although the dog was declared deceased and taken home to be buried, the next day her owner found her waiting for her water bowl to be refilled. That financially strapped man decided he could no longer deal with the vet bills — and gave her to a friend. The tenacious zombie dog is now enjoying life on an eight-acre Michigan farm.

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2. Mandy

This 12-pound Manchester terrier gave new meaning to the phrase "air rage" when she grounded a US Airways flight earlier this month. En route from Newark, New Jersey to Phoenix, little Mandy grew agitated, broke out of her cage, and bit a flight attendant and another passenger — leading the plane's pilot to make an unplanned stopover in Pittsburgh. There, Mandy and her 89-year-old owner were removed from the plane and greeted by law-enforcement officials. The duo were later released and allowed on another flight.

3. Giant George

The four-year-old Great Dane from Arizona — a 250-pound giant whose owners say he's 3'7" tall at the shoulder — caused a flap in February when he was named the "Tallest Dog Ever" by Guinness World Records. The owners of the previous record holder, a statuesque dog named Titan, took issue with the decision, alleging dog-measuring mischief. To put the matter to bed, Guinness officials measured Giant George themselves and reaffirmed him as the legitimate record holder.

4. Target

The untimely death of this heroic pooch from Afghanistan was one of the saddest dog stories of the year. After Target saved a number of U.S. troops from a suicide bomber in Afghanistan, one of the company's soldiers took him home to Florence, Arizona. Canine fame, including an "Oprah" appearance, ensued. But then Target escaped from his new owner's house, ending up in a local pet shelter. Before his owner could arrive to pick Target up, a shelter staff member mistakenly put the dog down. Target was a triumphant war hero, and "an innocent victim of a horrible, tragic mistake," said Penny Eims in the Examiner.

5. Trouble

Ever since her owner — hotel tycoon Leona Helmsley — died in 2007 and left this fluffy Maltese a cool $12 million, Trouble the doggy heiress has been in the news. Earlier this month, Trouble found herself (well, her image at least) on the floor of the House. Rep. Joseph Crowley (D-NY) used the pampered pooch's story, and a life-size picture of the dog and her late owner, to make his case against extending tax cuts for the wealthy. "Under the Republican plan, if Trouble doesn't get a tax break, nobody else does," he said. "They'll protect this little dog but they won't protect the middle class of this country."

6. Buffy (nee Yorgo)

Russian Prime Minister Vladimir Putin showed his softer, fluffier side at the end of the year when he was gifted an adorable shepherd puppy by the Bulgarian head of state. After deeming the pup's original name, Yorgo, not sufficiently Russian, Putin turned to the internet for suggestions. A few suspense-filled weeks later, he decided on the name "Buffy" at the suggestion of a five-year-old Moscow boy. The kid got an autographed football for his effort — and a sort-of invitation to 2018 World Cup, which will be played in Russia. "In 2018, you will turn 13, so you will most likely play in Russia's junior team," the Prime Minister told the puppy namer.

7. The puppies thrown in the river

The six whimpering pups brutally hurled into a river by a Bosnian girl clad in a red hooded sweatshirt didn't have names or even visible faces. Yet their story, and the viral video of the cruel act, dominated the media for a moment in the fall, drawing global outrage and eliciting a cyber manhunt for the girl in question. "This kind of cruelty should not be ignored," read a Facebook page for a group demanding justice. Indeed, it wasn't.

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