Patsy Ann, Official Greeter in Juneau, Alaska
Patsy Ann was a bull terrier who was born deaf on October 12, 1929, according to information provided by the Friends of Patsy Ann. As a pup, she was brought from Portland, Oregon to Juneau where she lived the rest of her life.
While very much a permanent resident of Juneau, she never had a permanent address. She visited the shops and bars and restaurants where owners and patrons were happy to slip her a bite to eat.
Despite her deafness, Patsy Ann had an unerring sense of the arrival of incoming ships. Perhaps the ships’ whistles were at a pitch that permitted her to hear them? At any rate, somehow she sensed their arrival. Whenever a ship was coming into port, Patsy Ann was at the dock in advance and was ready to welcome all comers.
The Friends of Patsy Ann site tells that one day residents had been told a ship would be arriving at one particular dock; Patsy Ann saw the crowd, paused for a moment, and then turned and went to wait at a different dock—the one where the ship actually pulled in.
Most nights Patsy Ann would make her way to the longshoreman’s hall where they were happy to have her bed down for the night.
As Patsy aged, she suffered from arthritis that was complicated by her expanding waistline due to being fed by many. Despite any infirmities, she still managed to be at the docks whenever a ship arrived.
On March 30, 1942, she died peacefully at the longshoreman’s hall. The next day a crowd of townspeople gathered to say good-bye as her coffin was lowered into the water in the channel over which she had kept close watch for so many years.
Fifty years later (1992), a group called the “Friends of Patsy Ann” held a competition for a sculptor and commissioned Anna Burke Harris to sculpt Patsy Ann on watch. The photo above is a picture of Patsy Ann as the statue has been placed, looking out over the water and continuing to greet all who visit Juneau.
Many thanks to Derek Reich for permission to use the photo, and for more information, see the site maintained by the Friends of Patsy Ann.
Patsy Ann’s story certainly reminds us how much our lives—and our dogs’ lives—have changed.