On a recent trip to the post office, I always take a little time to browse the new stamps. I love a good stamp and lately the post office have had a lot of great stamps. On the last visit, I picked up a sheet depicting Owney the Postal Dog.
During the late 1880s, a dog, likely a terrier mix, appeared in the Post Office in Albany, New York, where clerks took a liking to him and named him Owney. Fond of riding in postal wagons, Owney followed mailbags onto trains, where Railway Mail Service employees considered him their good-luck charm. As Owney traveled the country, clerks affixed medals and tags to his collar to document his travels, and Postmaster General John Wanamaker gave him a special dog-sized jacket to help him display them all. Owney later toured the world by steamer and became an icon of American postal lore. his adventures highlight the historical importance of the Railway Mail Service, and today he enjoys a place of honor at the Smithsonian Institution’s National Postal Museum in Washington, D.C.
The Smithsonian National Postal Museum describes the main reason the Railway Mail Service employees considered the dog 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.
Description located on the back of Owney the Postal Dog stamp sheet.
Smithsonian National Postal Museum website.