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Owney the Railway Mail Service Mascot

stuffed Owney with his collar and tags

One of the most popular exhibits in the National Postal Museum is the story of Owney, the scruffy mutt who became the unofficial mascot of the Railway Mail Service in the late 19th century. Owney’s unusual life and wide-spread travels have inspired several children’s books. Elementary schools across the United States continue to use the story of Owney as a way to connect their students with those in other states by sending stuffed toy dogs from school to school through the mail accompanied by messages from students to one another.

Map of Owney's travels in the USA and Canada »


Owney sitting on a carpet

Story of Owney (Video)

A short video about Owney, Mascot of the Railway Mail Service.
[ Download video: 12 MB MP4 file | 37 MB WMV file ]


“The Owney Song”

Enjoy a musical telling of the Owney Story, sung by Trace Adkins and written by Stephen Michael Schwartz. [ Downloadable 5.8 MB MP3 file | Lyrics ]


cartoon of Owney in a mail room with a postal worker

Owney: Tales from the Rails iPad and e-Book

The Smithsonian National Postal Museum has brought the true story of Owney to “life” with beautiful animation, a fun (and historically accurate) story, the deep grandfatherly baritone of Trace Adkins, and a catchy theme song. Owney: Tales from the Rails is available as both an iPad app on the Apple iTunes Store and an e-Book on the museum's website.


1894 Davenport gold Owney tag shaped like a doghouse

Owney Images You Can Use

These historic images of Owney and his tags are for your use. Please include credit line, "Image courtesy of the National Postal Museum."


stuffed Owney with his collar and tags

Owney the Dog and His Tags

Owney was a scruffy mutt who became a regular fixture at the Albany, New York, post office in 1888. His owner was likely a postal clerk who let the dog walk him to work. Owney began to ride with the bags on Railway Post Office (RPO) train cars across the state . . . and then the country! The RPO clerks adopted Owney as their unofficial mascot, marking his travels by placing medals and tags from his stops on his collar.


photo of Owney and a postal worker

Story of Owney, Mascot of the Railway Mail Service

Railway mail clerks considered the dog Owney a good luck charm. At a time when train wrecks were all too common, no train Owney rode was ever in a wreck. The Railway mail clerks adopted Owney as their unofficial mascot, marking his travels by placing medals and tags on his collar. Each time Owney returned home to Albany, the clerks there saved the tags.


photo of Owney

Object of the Month: Owney

On July 27, 2011, one of the museum’s most interesting objects was commemorated with a United States postage stamp. During his lifetime a scruffy mutt named Owney was the nation’s most famous canine. From 1888 until his death in 1897 Owney rode with Railway Mail Service clerks and mailbags all across the nation.


Owney the Postal Dog exhibit logo

Art of the Stamp: Owney the Postal Dog

Art of the Stamp: Owney the Postal Dog features Bill Bonds’s original painting of Owney that was produced for the stamp. It is accompanied by 6 sketches illustrating various poses of Owney that Mr. Bonds created as he developed his final portrait. In addition, 5 tags that were given to Owney on his many travels and selected by Bonds as background for his stamp art, are also included.


photo of a girl holding a drawing

Celebrate Owney in Your Community

The release of the Owney commemorative postage stamp is a great reason to celebrate stamps, mail, and American history. Whether you are a postmaster, part of a stamp club, or scout leader, you can help kids get into the fun by planning an Owney celebration in your community. This page will help you do it!


photo of a man restoring an Owney figure

Owney Blog Posts

Our Blog is dedicated to sharing behind-the-scenes stories, thoughts, and interesting discussion about our museum and our renowned collection. Owney has been the subject of several blog posts including the ongoing series, "Countdown to Owney," which is in celebration of the 2011 Owney postage stamp.


The Post Office's Best Friend- Owney the Mail Dog exhibit screen

The Post Office’s Best Friend: Owney the Mail Dog

The latest research into Owney’s life and times is revealed in “The Post Office’s Best Friend,” an article written by National Postal Museum Historian, Nancy A. Pope, in the April 2011 issue ofPostmaster’s Advocate.


the handle of a silver spoon

Owney Souvenir Spoon

A group of postal employees raised money for Owney to be preserved. In 1904 the Department included Owney in its section of the World’s Fair exposition in St. Louis, Missouri. In honor of Owney’s presence at the fair, a group of Cleveland, Ohio, postal clerks commissioned a souvenir spoon design for Owney. The design, produced by the Webb C. Ball Company, shows a railway train car in the bowl of the spoon and an illustration of Owney and his name on the handle.


Owney the Dog! with cartoon Owney on mailbags

Owney Curriculum

The National Postal Museum is proud to provide this curriculum and supporting materials based on our beloved “Owney the Dog.” May the lessons provide inspiring and meaningful interdisciplinary experiences for students in your classroom.


stuffed Owney toy

Toy Owney the Dog For Sale at Museum Store

Now you can buy an Owney! Approximate size is 12 x 6 x 6 inches. 
Price: $16.00 plus shipping & handling. 
To order, please telephone the Museum Store.


cartoon Owney with his tags in front of a large group of people

Owney's Facebook Page

Owney shares photos, fun facts, answers questions, and more. Find out where Owney traveled on today's date in history. Many of Owney's posts are useful for classroom teachers.


cartoon Owney smiling

Owney's Twitter Page

Owney tweets (well, barks) about his travels, tags, and shares fun facts. Find out about Owney programs, research, and news in a short, timely format. 


black and white photo of Owney

Owney Look-Alike Contest

Congratulations to the winners of the Owney the Dog Look-Alike Contest: Bentley, Jordy, and Murphy! 73 amazing dogs entered and you cast over 8,000 votes.