Famous Canine Coast Guard Mascots

images:U.S. Coast Guard, thinkstock.com


Famous Canine Coast Guard Mascots

December 27, 2013

Animals on board ships is a tradition reaching back literally thousands of years.  Animals of all varieties were brought along as food, to fight pests and rodents, and most lastingly, as companions.


The Coast Guard has a history of adopting animals of every description, from birds to cats to reptiles.  But the noble dog seems to be the one that stuck.  In fact, in many instances, canines were actually enlisted in the service, complete with service and medical records, uniforms, and, if they were lucky, their very own bunks.


They were promoted for exemplary service and were even busted back down to seaman by ship’s captains.  Many mascots have seen real combat against the enemy.   Some were wounded.  Some died.  Many were decorated for service and bravery.  Lucky for everyone, many lived to be a ripe old age, retired ashore and often adopted by a shore unit where they still had the chance to venture out on a patrol once in a while.


All Coast Guard mascots have served as their human compatriots have done.  With honor.  With courage.  And, as the motto states, are “Always Ready” to rescue those in need on the seas.


Here are just a few of our favorites.

This canine is perhaps the most famous (or infamous, if you believe the rumors) of the Coast Guard mascots.  He was adopted by a crewman (and later the entire crew) from the cutter Campbell prior to World War II, in 1938.   He served faithfully.  So much so, in fact, that he was formally enlisted with all the paperwork to prove it and became Chief Petty Officer, Dog.


Sinbad saw much action with the Germans, the Japanese, and if you believe Life Magazine, in various ports throughout the Pacific.  “An Old Sea Dog Has Favorite Bars and Plenty of Girls in Every Port,” the magazine reported.  He was even the subject of the biography, Sinbad of the Coast Guard, by Chief Specialist George R. Foley.  The book was a hit and transformed Sinbad overnight to international celebrity.


It wasn’t all smooth sailing, however.  Sinbad had his share of stories to tell, like the international incident in Greenland, another in Casablanca, and he was busted in rank more than once for minor infractions.  As one author put it:


“Sinbad is a salty sailor but he’s not a good sailor.  On a few occasions he has embarrassed the United States Government by creating disturbances in foreign zones.  Perhaps that’s why Coast Guardsmen love Sinbad, he’s as bad as the worst and as good as the best of us.”


Sinbad served for 11 years aboard the Campbell, garnering more sea time than most of his contemporaries before finally retiring to the Barnegat Light Station.  He passed away in 1951 and was laid to rest beneath the station’s flagstaff.



Maximillian Talisman, Service Number 224-859
This pure bred Boxer had a stellar career from 1950-1957 and was promoted all the way to the rank of Chief Boatswain’s Mate on the Cutter KLAMATH.  He served on the cutter for seven years, after enlisting at the tender age of three months.


The original photo caption read:
“Donald R. Haight, BM1 displays retirement orders of his old shipmate, Maximillian Talisman, BMC/Dog.  He will spend his time now at the home of BM1 Haight in Seattle.  The ‘chief’ seems to be getting in some practice for those lazy retirement days ahead.”

He was “piped off” his cutter with full naval honors on the day of his retirement.







Mystery Mascot, circa 1913
The Revenue Cutter Service was the forerunner of today’s Coast Guard, and even they had a mascot.  The Revenue Cutter Thetis served in Alaska in 1913 and though there are no records of his name and rank, it is known that he had continually served at sea for 10 years at the time of this photo.



Mascot of the Coast Guard icebreaker Eastwind, taking his watch sometime during 1947.
Please note his properly fitting “dixie cup” hat.




Bear retired from Active Dutey on 13 October 2000.  Here, he patrols the beach in front of the Kenosha Pierhead Lighthouse.  He’s on a government pension (ok, actually Chief Curth’s with whom he lives). 


“He’s is as good a Coast Guard Dog as I’ve known,” said Chief Curth.


For more Coast Guard Mascots visit  http://www.uscg.mil/history/uscghist/mascots.asp

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