6/25/17

Harvey: Civil War's Barking Dog



Harvey became famous in history as a Civil War dog who stood by his men, during the good and bad times.




During the Civil War it was not uncommon for soldiers to bring their dogs with them. Daniel M. Stearns of Wellsville, Ohio was one of them. He and his dog Harvey, a bull terrier, became part of the 104th Ohio Volunteer Infantry Company F in 1862. Harvey, one of three mascot dogs with the company, was the only one to serve the full three years of active duty with the unit - longer than most of the men. During his time of service, he would bark at the enemy and was wounded at least twice when his company went into battle. The first time he was wounded he was captured and returned the next day under a flag of truce.

The soldiers of Company F often wrote home about the dogs. Captain William Jordan wrote his children describing Harvey and Colonel as "having the run of the regiment." The two dogs would sleep in whatever tent that best suited them for the night. Jordan also wrote to his family how Teaser, the other canine mascot, ran after one of the company's pet squirrel and how Harvey saved the rodent by picking it up in his mouth and bringing it out of harm's way. Another letter, written by Private Adam Weaver to his brother, told about Harvey attending campfire sing-alongs. Harvey would sway from side to side and bark while the men sang. Some believed the dog was joining in with the music but according to Weaver "My idea is that the noise hurts his ears as it does mine!"





Stearns was proud of his dog and when promoted to 2nd Lieutenant in 1862 he had a special brass tag made to hang on his dog's collar that read "I am Lieutenant D.M. Stearns dog. Whose dog are you?" In 1865 Company F mustered out of the military when the Confederate Army surrendered. After the war, the regiment had a portrait of Harvey painted so they could display it at reunions, and their favorite mascot's picture was on the badges the men wore during the social gathering.

Harvey survived his wounds and it is believed he lived his remaining days with Stearns.


6/13/17

Taro and Jiro: Antarctica's Survivors



Taro and Jiro became famous dogs in history for their will to live when left behind in Antarctica, having survived on their own for 11 months in extremely harsh conditions.


Taro and Jiro greeted by the men from the expedition that found them

Taro and Jiro, three year old male siblings, were the youngest of 15 sled dogs of the first Japanese expedition to Antarctica that started in January 1957. The dogs were Sakhalin huskies, known in Japan as Karafuto-ken, a beloved Japanese dog that was well-suited to snowy climates.

The first team, consisting of 11 researchers, were to be replaced by another team in February 1958. However, before the second team could arrive a strong and unexpected storm approached causing the first team to be evacuated by helicopter and the second team to be suspended. Unfortunately, the dogs had to be left behind. They were chained and given food to last them for a few days, when the team had hoped to return for them. Sadly, the men could not return until the following year.

On January 14, 1959, the expedition returned to the base in Antarctica. The men were expecting to find the 15 dogs dead but only seven (Aka, Goro, Pochi, Moku, Kuro, Pesu and Kuma from Monbetsu) lost their lives while still chained. The other eight dogs had managed to break free from the chains. Amazingly two of the dogs, Taro and Jiro, were found alive near the base. The remaining six (Riki, Anko, Deri, Jakku, Shiro and Kuma from Furen - this Kuma was the father of Taro and Jiro) were never found.

Taro and Jiro were able to survive the 11 months in extreme conditions without human support, and apparently did not resort to eating the bodies of their fellow dogs. Yasukazu Kitamura, Professor Emeritus of Kyushu University and caretaker of the dogs, described "The stored foods for human and dog in Showa base were intact. Some types of dogs have to cannibalism during the famine. Seven dogs were found in dead which were connected to chains, while the bodies were intact. I think that Sakhalin dogs ate penguins, feces of seal, seabirds and fishes (trapped in the ice)."

Taro and Jiro stayed in Antarctica to pull sleds for the new expedition. In 1960 Jiro died of a disease in Antarctica and in 1961 Taro returned to his hometown Sapporo and lived at Hokkaido University until he died of old age in 1970. Taro's body was embalmed and is on display at the Museum of National Treasures at the Botanical Garden of Hokkaido University, and Jiro's body was embalmed and is on display at the National Museum of Nature and Science in Tokyo - the same museum where Hachiko (Japan's most loyal dog) is on display.



One of the monuments (part of it) honoring the dogs that were left behind

Monuments were erected in Japan honoring Taro, Jiro and the dogs who lost their lives, and two movies were made based on their story - Nankyoku Monogatari in 1983 and Eight Below in 2006.

6/4/17

Tubby: Tacoma Bridge Disaster's Only Fatality



Tubby became a famous dog in history for being the only one to die that fateful day the Tacoma Bridge collapsed.




On July 1, 1940 the Tacoma Narrows Bridge that spanned the Tacoma Narrows strait of Puget Sound in Pierce County, Washington opened to traffic. The bridge was nicknamed Galloping Gertie because of the vertical movement of the deck during windy conditions. On November 7, 1940 the bridge collapsed under 40 mph winds.

Leonard Coatsworth, a news editor for the Tacoma News Tribune, was driving on the bridge before it was shut down, and in the car with him was his daughter's cocker spaniel in the backseat. The dog's name was Tubby, and according to Coatsworth's wife, Tubby "had three legs and was paralyzed."





"Just as I drove past the towers, the bridge began to sway violently from side to side. Before I realized it, the tilt became so violent that I lost control of the car... I jammed on the brakes and got out, only to be thrown onto my face against the curb... I didn't think of the dog when I first jumped out of the car," Coatsworth recalled. "I started back to the car to get the dog, but was thrown before I could reach it. The car itself began to slide from side to side on the roadway. I decided the bridge was breaking up and my only hope was to get back to shore."

Coatsworth's colleague, photographer Howard Clifford, was told to go to the bridge to capture pictures. According to Clifford, "When I arrived, the bridge had literally run amok, bouncing and twisting like a roller coaster." After learning about Tubby, Clifford (who liked dogs and had recently seen Tubby at a company picnic) tried to get the dog but failed to reach the car.





Also at the scene was Frederick Farquharson, an engineering professor who was hired to find a solution to reduce the oscillations of the bridge. He was there to monitor the bridge's motion and, being a dog lover, also tried to get Tubby out of the car. He made it to the car, reached in to get Tubby, and the frightened dog bit him on the hand. Farquharson gave up and managed to make it back to safety moments before the bridge collapsed.




Sadly, the car with Tubby inside fell some 200 feet into the water and was quickly swept away from the ruins due to the swift tides. Tubby was the only one to die.

"With real tragedy, disaster and blasted dreams all around me, I [Coatsworth] believe that right at this minute what appalls me most is that within a few hours I must tell my daughter that her dog is dead, when I might have saved him."

On October 14, 1950 the replacement bridge, nicknamed Sturdy Gertie, was opened to traffic.