Every year, we Americans gather with friends and family to mark the unofficial end of summer with BBQs, pool parties, and general frivolity. We are actually gathering around Labor Day, a Federal holiday set aside as a tribute to the countless contributions of all workers who have contributed in a variety of ways to the strength and prosperity of the United States.
We typically think of ‘workers’ as police, teachers, factory personnel, and other humans. But at Vet Organics, we are also using Labor Day to celebrate the working dogs of the world who, through their dedication, loyalty, and sacrifices, have made immeasurable contributions to the betterment of humankind.
Please take a moment this Labor Day, to think about these special canines and their important contributions:
A Siberian-Husky sled dog, Balto was the lead dog in a critical team that brought the diphtheria antitoxin from Anchorage, Alaska, to Nome Alaska to combat an outbreak. He was one of several sled dog teams to deliver the serum in blizzard conditions, saving the lives of countless residents. Because of his popularity, he was sold and chained in a small cage as part of a freak show in Los Angeles, until he and his companions were saved from mistreatment by George Kimble, a prize fighter and businessman. Balto lived out his life with his companions, a dedicated shelter, healthy food, and veterinary care at the Brookside Zoo in Cleveland, Ohio. Balto’s preserved remains are now part of an exhibit at the Anchorage Museum of History and Art.
Judy was a naval dog who was stationed on two ships and was embedded with troops during several battles. She survived multiple sinking ships, saving several passengers from drowning in the process. When shipwrecked on an island, she detected a freshwater source for soldiers, saving their lives. Judy then traveled 200 miles through the jungle and survived a crocodile attack, only to become the first canine prisoner of war during the second world war. She was almost put to death by Japanese guards, but was saved by her fellow captives. They hid her until allied forces arrived to rescue the soldiers, including Judy. She lived out her days with one of the soldiers from her time as a prisoner of war and was the recipient of several medals in recognition of her service.
Prior to the discovery of Insulin, Diabetes was researched and tested on dogs. There were many dogs who endured a great deal for the advancement of science. In this case, Marjorie was a dog whose pancreas was removed in order to study the possible success of a new pancreas extract that might treat Diabetes. She was kept alive for 70 with their methods and the discovery represents the first time insulin was isolated, leading directly to our modern day means to control Diabetes. The discovery also led to these scientists winning the 1923 Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine. There are countless nameless dogs who labor through experiments and treatments to the betterment of humankind. Marjorie is one hero that can represent the many sacrifices dogs and all animals make, everyday, for our survival.
Owney was the unofficial United States Postal Service mascot of Albany, New York. He held his position for nine years and traveled through 48 contiguous states in his career. He even has a stamp dedicated to him. Owney was thought of as good luck. He was an abandoned dog who took shelter in a mailroom and was eventually adopted by the postal service. He slept on the mailbags and when they were moved, he would travel with them. As their guardian, he wouldn’t let anyone but mail clerks handle the bags. This terrier even enjoyed an international tour where he traveled for four months and returned as a celebrity. Owney was beloved and his time at the U.S. Postal Service instigated the beginning of an important public discourse of the late 1800s, on the role of happiness and well-being in the workplace. This was important because it came at a time when scientific management and efficiency was being popularized, which mechanized human labor and forgot the importance of other human workplace needs.
Sallie Ann Jarrett
As the canine mascot of the 11th Pennsylvania infantry, she accompanied the soldiers of the American Civil War in battle and lived the army life, complete with drills and color guard at parades. She was killed in action in 1865, during the Union advance on Hatcher’s Hill in Virginia. Prior to her death she was a courageous soldier and loyal companion. There is a full-size granite and bronze monument to her on the Gettysburg battlefield to honor the soldiers who fought beside her and who she guarded on the Gettysburg fields.
A famous newfie called, Seaman, was the official dog of the Lewis & Clark Expedition. He belonged to Captain Meriwether Lewis and references to him can found in several journal entries and books. His companionship was often noted and he was a source of protection and morale throughout the entire trip. Toward the beginning of the expedition, he was kidnapped by Native Americans and later returned when Lewis threatened to attack and wipe out the entire tribe. There are monument including him and the expedition in over eleven states and a monument dedicated exclusively to Seaman, stands in Cairo, Illinois.
For more working dogs, please take a look at our Work Like a Dog Day article from August 5th.
Though there are many famous dogs from around the world, these represent important jobs and milestones worth noting on Labor Day and anytime we want to remember just how important dogs are to the health, well-being, and in some cases, the very existence of humankind.