Owney Primer - Learn More About The Most Famous Dog in the World!
June 4, 2013
As we’re getting closer to finishing the art for The Secret Around-the-World Adventures of Owney the Postal Dog, this might be a good time for a primer about the book's star, the mutt they called Owney.
Even though the story that David Montgomery and I are telling focuses on Owney’s trip around the world in 1895, he had lots of other adventures both before and after that. In the 1890s, the days of the Pony Expresshad ended and the US Post Office had reorganized itself in order to better serve the entire country, using railroads to provide postal service practically everywhere, even distant rural areas. Owney was a symbol of that movement, riding the rails with bags of mail to big cities and small towns alike. After becoming a fixture at the Albany, NY post office, he was unofficially adopted as the US Postal Service mascot. He visited hundreds of cities and his trip around the world is still a feat unrivaled by any other dog.
Owney was known from coast to coast because he was allowed to ride freely in the postal cars carrying US mail to and fro. When he would arrive at a new town, he was treated as a celebrity and given a commemorative tag to show where he had been. Quickly the weight of these became too much to carry on his collar, so he was given a specially-made harness to carry all the tags that he received from various hosts on his travels .
After Owney’s death in 1897, postal clerks from all over the country chipped in to have their beloved Owney stuffed. Thanks to them, today's visitors to the Postal Museum in Washington DC are able to see what is left of Owney; and even though the stuffed version has lost some of its resemblance to the living dog (a recent make-over had to reconstruct part of his snout), having Owney there makes his story that much more real.