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Dog Days of Summer Family Festival

Saturday, July 28, & Sunday, July 29, 2018
10:00 am – 3:00 pm (Both days)

On behalf of Owney the Dog, our famed four-legged friend, the Smithsonian’s National Postal Museum cordially invites you to the Dog Days of Summer Family Festival. The program activities will take place throughout the museum on Saturday, July 28th and Sunday, July 29th from 10:00 am to 3:00 pm.

An Owney the Dog puppet, the police dog name Summer, and participants at a dog adoption fair in front of the museum.

Owney was a scruffy mutt taken in by the clerks at the Albany, New York post office in the late 1800s. Fond of sleeping and sitting atop mail bags, Owney began to accompany the letter carriers on their routes—by foot, on wagons and carriages, and eventually on trains all across North America. Lovable Owney became a national celebrity, delighting the public with stories of his adventures, and—if they were lucky—a visit by Owney himself! In 1895, Owney even made a four month, around-the-world trip aboard a mail steamship. The United States Postal Service commemorated Owney with his own postage stamp in 2011, celebrating this most fascinating postal pup in a most postal way.

Inspired by Owney’s remarkable life, the Dog Days of Summer Family Festival highlights his travels, as well as explores the unique role that animals have played in the postal system over time. For the second year, we’ve teamed up with Amtrak Police for demonstrations showcasing the work of intelligent and hardworking K-9 units. We’re also proud to host local animal welfare organizations City Dogs Rescue & City Kitties and Homeward Trails Animal Rescue for Adoption Fairs on Saturday and Sunday. Join us for a fun weekend of educational and hands-on activities at your neighborhood museum! The program is free and open to all ages.

Activities include:

K-9 Demonstration with Amtrak Police

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Sergeant Micah Jones and Summer
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Amtrak Police K-9 Unit patch

While U.S. mail is mainly moved by trucks and planes these days, there are still some courier companies using trains to transport packages and other items. USPS worked with Amtrak for many years and benefited from the diligent work of law enforcement and K-9 units as they not only protected people on board, but cargo and mail as well. Sergeant Micah Jones from the Amtrak Police Department and his partner, Summer the Labrador, will demonstrate their patrol routine at 11:00 a.m. and 1:00 p.m. both Saturday and Sunday.

Tracking Paws: Map Owney’s Travels

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Tracking Paws activity

Cities and townships often presented Owney with a small tag to remember them by. Owney’s widespread travels left him with almost 400 tokens and tags from all the different places he visited. Track Owney’s paws by examining these tags and identifying the locations on a big map!

Adoption Fair

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Owney the Dog made the Albany, New York post office his home, but not every pup is as lucky. Thanks to our program partners, Adoption Fairs will take place both days on the museum’s terrace for rescue animals in need of their forever homes. Even if you’re not looking to adopt, come say hi to our furry friends who will certainly appreciate your affection and attention!

Adoption fair schedule:

  • City Dogs Rescue & City Kitties on Saturday from 10:00 a.m. to 12:00 p.m.

  • Lucky Dog Animal Rescue on Saturday from 12:00 – 2:00 pm

  • Homeward Trails Animal Rescue on Sunday from 12:00 p.m. to 2:00 p.m.

The program’s adoption fair will take place both days on the museum’s outdoor terrace for rescue animals in need of their forever homes. In the event of inclement weather, the adoption fair will not take place, however, all other indoor activities will occur.

Scavenger Hunt

Embark on a topical Scavenger Hunt throughout the entire museum, locating objects relating to dogs and other animals, planes, trains, automobiles, and more! Participants will receive a medal of completion after finishing their expedition.

Make an Owney Puppet

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Owney paper puppet

Owney often followed postal clerks on their travels. Create your own Owney puppet to accompany you through the festival! Design your paper puppet however you want and adorn your dog’s collar with tags marking his travels, just like the real Owney!

Mule Mail Challenge

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Mule Mail Challenge

In Supai, Arizona, mules deliver mail to a small village located at the bottom of the Grand Canyon. See if you are up for the challenge by trying our agility course which simulates the mule mail route. Compete with your friends or family members to see which one of you can deliver mail the fastest to the bottom of the Canyon!

Story Corner

Join us for a special story time about Owney the Dog and other animals that also help carry mail.
Story time begins every half hour in the Atrium.
Owney, the Mail-Pouch Pooch by Mona Kerby
Can I Be Your Dog? by Troy Cummings

Owney the Dog Mo-‘woof’-vie Theater

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Owney eBook

In our temporary Mo’woof’vie Theater, watch the true story of Owney come to life with beautiful animation, a fun (and historically accurate) story, and the grandfatherly baritone of Trace Adkins! Sing along to a catchy theme song, “The Owney Song.” Showings start every hour in the Byrne Education Loft (duration: 45 minutes).

Railway Post Office Training School

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Railway Post Office Training School

Owney was beloved by the Railway Post Office clerks. In this activity—designed especially for our tiniest clerks (ages 2-5, up to 45 pounds)—experience what was it like to work at a post office on a moving train! Ride on the steam train, collecting and delivering mail along the way to the next station. Don’t forget to bring Owney along as a lucky charm!

Ice Pops Give Away

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Ice Pops

Beat the heat with a refreshing ice pop! Claim your frosty treat as you take a break from activities, or to wrap up your time at the museum. Ice pops are available while supplies last; please limit one per person.