King Oorang Airedales
President Warren G. Harding's dog, Laddie Boy, seated on a high backed chair on the White House Lawn, ca. 1921-1923. The chair pictured is now part of the Ohio Historical Society artifact collections, catalog number H15957.
Walter Lingo was a resident of La Rue, Ohio. During the 1920s, he owned the Oorang Dog Kennels. Lingo used the kennels to breed Airedale dogs. He claimed that:
The common man of Great Britain found it necessary to create a dog different from any other in existence. The bird dog became lost in the bush when at stand, the hound was too noisy and retrievers lack stamina. Therefore, these folks secretly experimented by a series of cross-breeding old types, including the otter hound, the old English sheep dog, the black and tan terrier, and the bulldog. From this melting pot resulted the Airedale, so named because he was first produced by the people along the dale of the Aire River between England and Scotland. The new dog combined the good qualities of his ancestors without their faults. It was a super dog.
Lingo bred and sought to create an even more powerful type of Airedale. His efforts resulted in the King Oorang breed of Airedale dogs. Lingo decribed the King Oorang as the "world's great all-around dog."
Upon creating the King Oorang breed, Lingo embarked on a mail order business, selling his puppies to people across North, Central, and South America. Many of Lingo's neighbors described the Airedales as killers, prompting Lingo to enlist the aid of celebrities to endorse his dogs. Perhaps, Lingo's most famous supporter was Jim Thorpe, a Native American and celebrated athlete of the 1920s.
To help promote his dogs, Lingo eventually created the Oorang Indians, a professional football team in La Rue, Ohio. The team played in the National Football League. Every member of the Indians actually was of Native American heritage. The squad's most famous player was Jim Thorpe. Interestingly, the Oorang Indians cost Lingo one hundred dollars to create, while his Airedale dogs sold for 150 dollars apiece. The Indians remained a team in the National Football League for the 1922 and 1923 seasons. Walter Lingo established the squad as a publicity stunt and named the team after his Oorang dog kennels. Interestingly, La Rue, Ohio is the smallest community to sponsor a National Football League franchise. The Indians, however, never played a game in La Rue, as all twenty of the team's games during the 1922 and 1923 seasons were away games. In the team's first season, the Indians finished twelfth in the league, with a record of two wins, six losses, and zero ties. The next season, the team finished eighteenth, with one win, ten losses, and zero ties. The Oorang Indians ceased to exist after the 1923 season.
The Oorang Indians players not only played football. Lingo also required them to work in his kennels, caring for his dogs. He also forced his players to parade around the football field with his dogs during half times, hoping that fans would purchase his dogs. Lingo even had one of his players, Long Time Sleep, wrestle a bear during one half time. Many football historians credit Lingo with creating half-time shows.
After the Oorang Indians' collapse, Lingo continued to sell his Airedale dogs. Unfortunately, the Great Depression struck in the 1930s, prompting Lingo to scale back his business. People could no longer afford the Airedales, prompting Lingo to have approximately three hundred puppies put to sleep in 1929 alone. He eventually tried to establish a business that manufactured items for dogs, but this venture failed to succeed. Lingo died in 1966.