Albert Einstein's enduring connection to the animal kingdom
The much-adored genius had a dog, a cat and a parrot. Plus: Find out about famous pets named Einstein.
"The Genius of Dogs," a book by the director of the Canine Cognition Center at Duke University, shot up the New York Times bestseller list in the spring of 2013.
But long before then, discussions of craniums and canines were already percolating. Albert Einstein, one of the wisest men of the past century, was a well-known pet lover. For starters, he had a dog named Chico Marx. “The dog is very smart. He feels sorry for me because I receive so much mail," Einstein said of the fox terrier. "That’s why he tries to bite the mailman.”
The world-renowned physicist also had a tomcat named Tiger, who tended to get depressed whenever it rained. To which Einstein consolingly looked at the feline and proclaimed: "I know what's wrong, dear fellow, but I don't know how to turn it off."
Birds flock to a mural of Albert Einstein in St. Petersburg, Russia. (Photo: Akimov Igor/Shutterstock)
Later in his life, Einstein received an unsolicited delivery from an animal hospital. They dropped off a parrot named Bibo on his doorstep for his 75th birthday. The convalescent bird required an inordinate amount of medical attention. "The pet parrot is depressed ... and Einstein is trying to cheer him up with his jokes, which the bird doesn't seem to appreciate," wrote a close friend in her journal.
That loving legacy continues to this day. A Florida-based dog treat company is named Einstein Pets. A dog hotel in Brazil is named after Einstein. A dog-training facility in Michigan is also named for the genius.
So it doesn't come as much of a surprise that many people pay Einstein tribute by naming their pets after him. After all, his influence spans art, pop culture and just about everything in between. "The interest in Einstein does not fade into history," Professor Hanoch Gutfreund, director of the Albert Einstein archives at Hebrew University in Israel, told From The Grapevine. "If anything, the interest in Einstein increases with time. It's greater now."
Below, we take a closer look at three present-day pets...
The rescue dog who ended up at George Clooney's mansion
In 2011, George Clooney rescued a senior cocker spaniel named Einstein. "I go online and see Einstein," Clooney told Esquire magazine. "They had a whole film about him. It was actually really sweet ... God, I love this dog. So I called and said, 'I like Einstein!'"
The shelter brought the dog over to Clooney's house to see how the two would get along. "I have this really long driveway, and I open the gate for them, and I start to panic that Einstein is not going to like me. So I run into the kitchen, where I have these turkey meatballs, and I rub them all over my shoes," he said. "This woman opens the door, and ... he throws himself at my feet ... And forever, now, he just thinks of me as the guy with meatball feet. He loves me. I can do no wrong. He follows me everywhere."
Einstein's adoption was later immortalized in the book "My Old Dog: Rescued Pets With Remarkable Second Acts" by Lauren T. Coffey. “Clooney really did do a great thing when he adopted Einstein, and he set a wonderful example for others who might be in the market for a new pet,” she said.
The Clooneys have since adopted two other rescue dogs as well and, more recently, George rescued another dog as a Christmas present for his parents.
The time-traveling pup from 'Back to the Future'
Any self-respecting fan of "Back to the Future" knows that before Marty McFly took a ride in the time-traveling DeLorean, the plutonium-powered ride was first tried by a sheepdog named Einstein. To help show how the machine worked, Doc Brown strapped his dog into the driver's seat and sent the pup zooming through a mall parking lot at 88 mph. With a quick flash, Einstein left a trail of fire in his wake that made its way onto the film's movie poster. To film those scenes of Einstein driving, stuntman Dick Butler donned a full-sized dog suit and took the wheel.
Ironically, the name of the dog that portrayed Einstein in the original "Back to the Future" was named Tiger – the same name as the real Einstein's cat. A different dog, named Freddie, played the role of Einstein the Dog in both sequels.
Wired Magazine named Einstein one of the top 10 awesome dogs in geek culture. What's more, actor Christopher Lloyd has said that he took inspiration from the real-life Albert Einstein for his Doc Brown character who sported a shock of white hair and dreamed of time travel.
A genius bird who's mastered the art of gab
Einstein is a Congo African Grey Parrot that had a video go viral in 2014 with his impeccable impersonation of actor Matthew McConaughey's patented phrase, "Alright, alright, alright." The parrot, who hails from Texas just like the Oscar-winning actor he imitates, now has more than 200 videos on YouTube that have been viewed more than 19 million times. Another one of our favorites is this one of Einstein reciting his namesake's historic theory of relativity:
But don't get confused. There's another famous parrot named Einstein who resides at a zoo in Knoxville, Tenn. That one, a female, is likely the only parrot to ever deliver a Ted Talk, as seen in the video below:
MORE FROM THE GRAPEVINE: