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.
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.
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.
Now train wrecks were common at this time,
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.
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.