6 Awesome Dogs with 6 Awesome Stories

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After two previous posts about great dogs, both heroic and loyal, I keep finding more wonderful dog stories to share. Dogs have an amazing ability to do whatever needs to be done, and will still wag their tails afterward.

1. Patsy Ann, the Greeter

Patsy Ann was a bull terrier who greeted incoming ships in Juneau, Alaska. She was profoundly deaf, but could detect a ship up to half a mile away. She raced to the dock for every incoming ship, no matter what distractions she met along the way. Longshoremen relied on Patsy Ann to alert them to arrivals. She even knew which dock the ship would tie to! Patsy was born in 1929 and lived in several homes before she became a neighborhood dog, loved by all but belonging to none. She was named the "Official Greeter of Juneau, Alaska" by the mayor in 1934. Patsy died in 1942 and was buried at sea while a large crowd watched. In 1992, a bronze statue of Patsy Ann was unveiled in Juneau.

2. Faith, the Bipedal Dog

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Faith Stringfellow was born just before Christmas in 2002 in King of Prussia, Pennsylvania. She only had three legs. Her single front leg was deformed. The leg was amputated after it began to atrophy when Faith was seven months old. Her owners then taught her how to stand on her rear legs, then hop, and finally to walk upright! Faith is now a therapy dog and makes public appearance to encourage others to live to their full potential. See a video of Faith in action at YouTube.

3. Owney, the Postal Dog

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Owney was a stray mutt adopted by the employees of the post office in Albany, New York in 1888. He became attached to the bags of mail and began riding the trains that delivered them- first the local, then statewide and across the nation. In 1895 Owney rode around the world on mail trains and ships! Everywhere he went, postal workers gave him local medals, which he wore on a specially-made vest. The workers considered him good luck, because no train carrying Owner ever wrecked. Owney died in 1897 of a gunshot wound due to an altercation with a journalist in Toledo. His body was preserved and is now on display in the National Postal Museum.

4. Swansea Jack, the Lifeguard

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Swansea Jack was born in 1930 in Swansea, Wales, close to the Tawe River. He was a retriever. What he retrieved were people in danger of drowning in the river -possibly as many as 27 of them in his short life. After his second rescue, his picture was published in the local paper. Swansea Jack was eventually awarded a "Bravest Dog of the Year": award from the newspaper, a silver cup from the mayor of London, and two bronze medals from the Dogs Trust. He was also named "Dog of the Century" in 2000 by the NewFound Friends of Bristol. In 2008, Richard Higlett wrote a musical tribute to Swansea Jack and recorded 30 dogs singing it. Swansea Jack died in 1937 after eating rat poison, and a huge monument was erected over his grave.

5. Balto, the Sled Dog

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Balto was one of 150 dogs who pulled sleds in the 1925 Nome Serum Run, in which a relay of dogsleds delivered vital supplies of diptheria antitoxin to remote Nome. Balto was the lead dog on the final leg of the journey, in which Gunnar Kaasen drove his team past the last scheduled musher and on to Nome. The dog became famous after the relay. He died in 1933. His body was stuffed by a taxidermist and is now on display in Cleveland. A statue of Balto was erected in New York City. And the route the dogsleds took inspired the modern day dogsled race known as the Iditarod.

6. Stubby, the Military Dog

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Stubby wandered into the encampment and was adopted by the 102nd infantry of Massachusetts in 1917. When the infantry shipped out to Europe, Stubby was smuggled onto the ship bound for France. During World War I, Stubby kept watch and alerted the troops to German attacks. He was wounded by a hand grenade once and gassed several times. He once found a German spy and held him by the seat of the pants until American troops could complete the capture! When his master, Corporal J. Robert Conroy was wounded, Stubby accompanied him to the hospital and made rounds to cheer the troops. He was eventually a highly decorated dog, amassing medals for service, campaigns and battles, a Purple Heart, and various veteran's awards. A group of French women made Stubby a chamois blanket decorated with allied flags to display his medals.

Stubby returned home at the end of the war and became quite a celebrity. He was made a lifetime member of the American Legion, the YMCA, and the Red Cross. He lived at the Y and made recruiting tours for the Red Cross. When Stubby passed on in 1926, he was preserved and displayed with his medals at the Smithsonian Institution.

For more inspiring dog stories, see 7 Heroic Dogs and 6 Utterly Loyal Dogs.

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December 2, 2008 - 3:04am
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