In October of 1888, a stray brown and white terrier wandered out of the rain into the post office in Albany, New York, and sacked out on a pile of canvas mail pouches. He stayed, hopping aboard the mail wagon each day for a ride to the train depot. One day he hopped aboard the train and rode it all the way to New York City, and didn't return for seven months. After that, the postal workers tied a note to his collar: "Dear Railway Postmen: Owney guards the U.S. Mail. Will you let us know where he has been? Please attach your depot tag to his collar." Owney came back from his next trip so loaded down with tags that the men bought him a harness so they could spread out the weight over his body.
The dedicated dog hopped trains all over the U.S., guarding the mail and the men in blue wool uniforms. In 1895, his friends gave him the trip of a lifetime—around the world by mail boat, which lasted 132 days and gained him 200 new tags, trinkets, and ribbons. Sweet, soft watercolor illustrations highlight a story that may seem too far-fetched to be true, but it is. At the back of the book are two sepia-toned photos of Owney on a train and wearing his medals.
THEMES: DOGS. HISTORICAL FICTION. PICTURE BOOKS FOR OLDER READERS. TRAVEL.
Farrar, Straus and Giroux, 2008
Suggested Ages: 4-9