Saturday, June 29, 2013

Owney the Postal Dog

 This is one of my favorite historical hounds stories.  I've posted it before but I wanted to share it again
Owney was an adorable Heinze 57 mutt,


like our own dear Norbert.  The legend is that Albany postal workers found a puppy asleep in the mail bags in 1897. The historical accuracy of this is subject to some question though, as another version of the story is that Owney was owned by a postal worker who then moved away and left him with the railway mail clerks.  Whatever his origins, one thing is clear, Owney loved the mail.  He traveled the country on railway mail trains acquiring a large collection of tags, badges, and medals along the way that he wore on a vest.   In fact he had such a large collection of tags that according to Bark Magazine he has become the mascot of the International Society of Animal License Collecting, who knew there is such a thing! I am sure Owney would be very flattered.

At the time he rode the rails, train travel was dangerous and wrecks where not infrequent.   Since no train Owney traveled on ever  had an accident he became known as a good luck charm and workers where always pleased to see him and have him accompany them on trips.

Owney even voyaged around the world on trains and barges leaving from Tacoma Washington and traveling through Asia before returning to Albany. 

Owney was retried in 1897 purportedly due to poor eyesight and old age.  Poor Owney did not take to retirement well and the story is that he snuck onto a train again and while being mistreated, bit a postal worker.    His death was very tragic, the result of a gun shot wound on July 11, 1897.  The circumstances are unknown, possibly he bit someone else.   After Owney's death postal workers raised money to have his body preserved by a taxidermist so he could be displayed at the Post Office head quarters in Washington, D.C.  In 1911 his body was moved to the Smithsonian Postal museum and can be seen there to this day: 

Owney's stamp

was issues on July 27, 2011 and makes a great collectible stamp purchase for dog and history lovers alike.


  1. My MOM has those stamps! She uses them for very special mail that she send.

  2. How sweet but pity about the sad ending. Have a super Saturday.
    Best wishes Molly

  3. Mom tried to buy that stamp and post office is out. LOVE it. Happy Saturday. Lots of Golden Woofs, Sugar

  4. I love your historical hound posts.

  5. Ohhh, that is horrible, poor Owney.
    We hope the swine who abused a poor little blind dog later died from tetanus, ha.
    Dip Bridge and Elliot x

  6. What a great story! I just wish he had a happier ending. I will definitely have to ask for some of these stamps next time I go to the post office. Thanks for sharing!

  7. A great story but sad ending. We are sweltering in the heat here.
    Bailey, Hazel & Greta

  8. Three Cheers for Olney ,,, a dog with ZIP,,,and a friend of Postal Workers. I hope something bad happened to the jerk who shot Olney.

  9. Great story...except for the getting shot part. I suppose today, he would have been rounded up and put in a shelter.

    XXXOOO Daisy, Bella & Roxy

  10. Owney was such a special dog! How great he got to travel around the world. I'm sad about how he didn't like retirement and passed away from gun shot wound :-(

    Have a great weekend xoxo

  11. It's a cool story! Amazing how he could travel the world.

  12. We love the story, but the ending is so sad...
    xoxo Chloe and LadyBug

  13. Cool story. I love hearing about dogs that dedicate their lives to their jobs. Love that stamp. Don't love the ending.

  14. I can't read books with sad endings.. Love the stamp :) Have a wonderful weekend xx00xx

    Mollie and Alfie

  15. What a kewl story...Hadn't heard about Owney before and love his story, except for the ending...Thanks for sharing

  16. I don't like the ending, but sadly that is how life was in the late 1800's.