Sailor’s Story

Clever Canine Employed at Wood Island Lighthouse

There is a dog up on the Maine Coast, which is a valued and valuable assistant at the lighthouse. According to the Portland Daily Argus, the animal is the only dog regularly employed at any lighthouse in the district and he performs his duties in a manner that is perfectly satisfactory.

He is attached to the lighthouse at Wood Island off Biddeford Pool and has been there for a number of years. He is the constant companion of the keeper and has learned much of the duties of one of Uncle Sam’s lonely watchers.

It is customary for vessels passing Wood Island to give three blasts of the whistle as a salute. At such times, the dog runs to the bell rope, seizes it in his mouth and tugs rigorously. The dog never rings the bell except at the right time and never misses ringing it when it should be rung.

Captain Oliver of the excursion steamer Forest Queen, was the first seaman to hear of the four footed helper that the keeper of Wood Island Lighthouse had trained to ring the bell. Several hundred excursionists on the boat saw the dog tugging at the bell rope, and they afterwards made inquiries about the matter.

They learned that it was an old story with the dog and that during a fog, the patient animal rings the bell without complaining for hours at a time. He has never been known to desert his post, which is more than can be said of some men engaged to ring fog bells and tend lighthouses.

sailor rings bell

At nearly every lighthouse that guards the coast, there is one dog and sometimes the keepers have several. They help to while away the long lonesome hours and are almost as good as humane companions. But, so far as is known, the dog pictured herewith is the only one that has proven to be of any real service to his master.

It is perhaps needless to say that the dog is highly valued by his owner and money would not buy him. He is a mongrel dog being more of a shepherd that anything else. No particular effort was made to teach him his duty. He “picked it up” from observation and it took few lessons to make him perfect.

The animal is perfectly contented with his lot in life, and as he is well fed and well housed. He has no reason to complain that he has been forced to leave off the usual habits of doghood and tug at the end of a rope to ring a bell which will warn mariners who have lost their way in the fog.

According to the Stevens Point Journal, Wisconsin, July 10, 1896

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