Story of Owney

Postal workers in Albany, New York’s post office became attached to Owney, a scruffy mutt, in the late 1880s. He fell asleep on some mailbags, and the clerks let him stay. Owney soon was riding mailbags across the country with the Railway Mail Service. In 1895, he traveled with mailbags on steamships to Asia and across Europe. RMS clerks adopted Owney as their mascot, and began to record the dog’s travels with medals and tags attached to his collar. Postmaster General John Wanamaker was one of the pooch’s fans. When he heard that the dog’s collar was weighted down by the tags, he gave Owney a jacket to display his trophies.

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Narrator: Back in the late 1800s when mail was carried across this nation by trains and Mail wagons, a small dog made postal history.

His name was Owney, and this is his story.

On a busy day at the Albany Post Office in 1888, a small homeless puppy crept in unnoticed, made himself right at home among the mail pouches, and soon was following the mail bags everywhere.

Now one day a sack of mail fell off a mail wagon.

The little dog jumped off the wagon and stood guard over it until the driver came back.

[dog barking]

Owney, as they called him, became the special mascot of the Albany Post Office.

He traveled in mail trains which crossed the state and the country, often jumping from one train to the next.

[train whistle]

Now train wrecks were common at this time, but miraculously, the mail cars were always safe when Owney was on board.

To let folks know that Owney was good luck and to make sure he came back safe and sound, his friend at the Albany Post Office made him a special collar.

And soon people began attaching tags to it to show where Owney had been.

[tags jingling]

Wherever he went Owney made friends, and his tag collection grew.

But Owney didn't just travel with the mails in this country, he journeyed by ship to Mexico, Alaska, and around the world to Japan, China, Singapore, and the Suez.

Now throughout his journeys, Owney made friends.

One wrote this poem in his honor, Owney is a tramp, as you can plainly see, only treat him kindly, and take him along with ye.

[dog barking]