Guarding the Great Lakes, tales of Coast Guard Great Lakes dogs

 

Lt. Timothy Jones, a member of Coast Guard Marine Safety Unit Cleveland, runs with Sam the Dog, a golden retriever, in the Run to Remember event held in Cleveland, May 17, 2013. Units located at the Coast Guard Cleveland Mooring hosted Run to Remember, which is a run dedicated to remembering those who have died saving lives or defending freedom. (U.S. Coast Guard photo by Petty Officer 3rd Class Lauren Laughlin)

Lt. Timothy Jones, a member of Coast Guard Marine Safety Unit Cleveland, runs with Sam the Dog, a golden retriever, in the Run to Remember event held in Cleveland, May 17, 2013. Units located at the Coast Guard Cleveland Mooring hosted Run to Remember, which is a run dedicated to remembering those who have died saving lives or defending freedom. (U.S. Coast Guard photo by Petty Officer 3rd Class Lauren Laughlin)

 

Over the next few days we will be introducing you to several Coast Guard Great Lakes dogs in the blog series “Guarding the Great Lakes.” At the end of the week all the dogs will be featured on the Great Lakes Facebook as part of a contest to see which lucky dog will be leader of the pack and become the 2014 Great Lakes Top Dog.
Dogs, like many other types of animals, have been part of military service for years as work-animals, mascots and companions. In the Coast Guard, the most famous of these is Sinbad, a mix-breed dog who was adopted by the crew of the Coast Guard Cutter Campbell.

Sinbad signed his enlistment into the service with his pawprint and was integrated with the crew of the cutter so completely that he received Captains Mast on two occasions for conduct unbecoming of a Coast Guardsmen and canine. Sinbad spent 11 years with the crew of the Campbell before being honorably discharged and taken ashore.

Though some Coast Guard cutters have still canine companions, they are more common at small boat stations.

Coast Guard stations in the Great Lakes are no exception. Many small boat stations in the Great Lakes have doggie mascots. Some have several. These dogs help around the station and get underway when the crew is on patrol or conducting a rescue.

All Coast Guard mascots have served just as their human counterparts have, with respect, honor and devotion to duty.

These Coast Guard Great Lakes dogs are “Always Ready” to go the distance and assist those in need.

Sam the Dog

Sam the Dog wears his PFD, pooch floatation device, while underway with members of Coast Guard Station Cleveland Harbor.  Photo courtest of Petty Officer 1st Class Matthew Springer

Sam the Dog wears his PFD, pooch floatation device, while underway with members of Coast Guard Station Cleveland Harbor.
Photo courtest of Petty Officer 1st Class Matthew Springer

Station Cleveland Harbor, Ohio

Coast Guard member since Oct. 2011

Sam the Dog, a yellow Labrador Retriever mixed breed, was given to Petty Officer 1st Class Matthew Springer, the engineering petty officer at Station Cleveland Harbor, after his previous owner had to move. Sam not only had to acclimate to a new owner, he had to acclimate to the Coast Guard.

At first Sam did not like wearing a life jacket, but as the crew would not let him get underway without one, he got used to it. Sam spends most of his time at the station hanging around the machinery technician shop or playing pranks on boatswain’s mates.

Since joining the Coast Guard three years ago, Sam has found a sense of purpose for himself other than chasing ducks and looking for someone to pet him. Sam enjoys physical training with the crew and participates each year in the Run to Remember event, which commemorates fallen Coast Guardsmen.

“I like Sam more than I like people some days,” said Springer.

“We spend our days on duty together and we spend our days off duty together. Not only is he a part of my life, he is a part of Coast Guard life here at the station.”

Zoey takes a takes a moment to pose for the camera during her busy day at Coast Guard Station St. Joseph, Mich. U.S. Coast Guard photo courtesy of Station St. Joseph

Zoey takes a takes a moment to pose for the camera during her busy day at Coast Guard Station St. Joseph, Mich.
U.S. Coast Guard photo courtesy of Station St. Joseph

Zoey

Coast Guard Station St Joseph, Mich.

Coast Guard member since August 2008

Zoey, a black Labrador Retriever mixed breed, was given to the station in 2008, where she has been a faithful companion to all who have passed through. Training began immediately and she learned her boundaries so well that she now refuses to go outside of the station gates without a chaperone and a leash.

Zoey is a mellow dog, but she definitely is the heart of the station. Regardless of whether you are coming or going, Zoey is around to greet you or say good-bye. She keeps morale high at the station by performing tricks and keeping those on duty company.

“Just like every home needs a pet, every Coast Guard station needs a mascot,” said Seaman Angela Stotler, Zoey’s handler at the station.

“A more faithful and loyal companion would be hard to find, as Zoey is always by someone’s side.”

Valerie

Valerie keeps a sharp look out on the horizon for boats in need while underway with members of Coast Guard Station Charlevoix, Mich. U.S. Coast Guard photo courtesy of Coast Guard Station Charlevoix

Valerie keeps a sharp look out on the horizon for boats in need while underway with members of Coast Guard Station Charlevoix, Mich.
U.S. Coast Guard photo courtesy of Coast Guard Station Charlevoix

Coast Guard Station Charlevoix, Michigan

Coast Guard member since 2012

Valerie, a Jack Russell Terrier, joined the crew of Coast Guard Station Charlevoix in 2012. Each morning Valerie makes her rounds of the station and greets her shipmates. She then observes colors and assumes squirrel watch. Randomly throughout her busy days of squirrel watch, Valerie will assist with boat checks, station maintenance and communication watch.

Valerie is always ready to meet the crews on the dock when they get back from voyages and will do a dance until she is given attention.

“I served with Val when she first came aboard,” said Petty Officer 3rd Class Christopher Yaw, a former member of the station and who now serves in the Coast Guard 9th District Public Affairs Office.

“She is a hard worker, a great companion and an even better supervisor. Val is more than just a dog; she is a shipmate and a part of the crew.”

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One Response

  1. Katie Davis says:

    My husband & I are in the process of buying our first sailboat. So I’m on your site looking for safety info — & found this fabulous article regarding your dogs! As long-time animal rescue & shelter volunteers, we think it’s just wonderful that you’re giving these dogs such loving & permanent homes & we’ll be sharing this heartwarming story (as well as Parts 2-4) with our family & many animal-lover friends

    Best wishes & thanks for the important, great work you do!