5/3/16

Patsy Ann: Juneau's Official Greeter



Patsy Ann became a famous dog in history as the official greeter to passengers on steamships in Juneau, Alaska.




In 1929, a bull terrier puppy named Patsy Ann came to Juneau, Alaska with her owner Dr. Kaser from Portland, Oregon via ship. Although loved and well taken care of by Kaser and later the Rice family, Patsy Ann was not cut out to be a homebody. The outgoing dog enjoyed wandering around town and spending time on the docks. She would make her rounds at local businesses to visit her many friends who would give her a pat on the head and bits of food to eat.

In those days, a ship's arrival was uncertain. However, despite having been born deaf, Patsy Ann always seemed to know when a steamship (carrying supplies, mail and people) was approaching long before it came into sight. It didn't take long for the citizens of Juneau to follow behind the little white dog when they saw her heading for the harbor. Patsy Ann also had an uncanny ability to know what dock the ship would moor. On one occasion, the people were given the wrong information and gathered at the wrong dock. Patsy Ann looked at the crowd for a moment, then headed to the correct dock.





Patsy Ann eventually chose to spend a lot of her time at the longshoreman's union hall on the waterfront. Some believed she liked it there because the longshoremen shared her keen interest in the arrival of ships. But wherever she was, she would always drop whatever she was doing to greet the ships. Patsy Ann became well known by tourists and was soon the most famous dog west of the Mississippi - more photographed than Rin Tin Tin. Her image appeared on postcards, and for many tourists she was the highlight of their visit to Juneau.

Because of her unerring sense of the arrival of each ship and her faithful welcome at wharfside, Mayor Goldstein proclaimed Patsy Ann Official Greeter of Juneau, Alaska in 1934. When the city instituted dog licensing laws that year someone bought Patsy Ann a license and collar. Apparently she did not care to wear a collar because after a few days the collar, as well as other collars, mysteriously disappeared. Eventually the city donated her annual license fee and Patsy Ann was exempt from wearing a collar.

In later years, Patsy Ann's gait slowed down due to rheumatism but she still managed to head to the docks when she sensed a steamship turning down the channel. On March 30, 1942, Patsy Ann passed away peacefully in the longshoreman's hall. The next day, a crowd of mourners watched as her coffin was lowered into Gastineau Channel.





In 1992, a statue of Patsy Ann was installed on the wharf she knew so well. Clippings of dog hair from all over the world were added to the bronze at the time of casting, symbolically uniting the spirit of dogs everywhere. Today Patsy Ann, in memory, continues to greet tourists coming to Juneau. The visitors are encouraged to "greet her and touch her and in leaving, carry with you the blessings of friendship through your life's journey."