Did you know that there are amazing dog memorials located across the country? Whether they’re war heroes or stars of their local community, canines have inspired permanent monuments that dog lovers can visit. While we can’t travel at the moment due to COVID-19, there are many dog memorials you can learn about from your living room.
The Highground Working Dog Tribute
Situated in Neillsville, Wisconsin, the Highground Veterans Memorial Park pays tribute to human and canine military veterans. The Working Dog Tribute is a life-size bronze sculpture, created by Michael Martino, of a soldier holding a rifle, his dog’s harness, and two canteens (his and his dog’s). The breed represented is a German Shepherd Dog, the most common breed to serve in Vietnam.
A committee of Vietnam veterans, including war dog handlers, helped conceive of the memorial. On the day it was dedicated, in June 2018, people from across the country attended. Coincidentally, the attendees included three Korean War vets who discovered that they had served in the same unit at the same location, but during three different years. Remarkably, they had all handled the same dog.
March Field Air Museum War Dog Memorial
The March Field Air Museum, in Riverside, California, pays tribute to the history of aviation, with more than 70 historic aircraft and 30,000 artifacts. In 2000, the museum added a special tribute to military war dogs. Sculptor Thomas Schomberg created the monument, which depicts a soldier holding the leash of his dog, surrounded by tiles that are tributes to individual dogs and their handlers. The War Dog Memorial is meant to illustrate the bond between humans and their canine friends,” Schomberg said. “Most importantly, it is to illustrate the sacrifice that these two figures have made under combat circumstances.”
Two-thousand people attended the memorial’s dedication, and every year the museum hosts a War Dog Remembrance Day, which brings together veterans, retired war dog handlers and dogs, and police K-9 handlers.
On October 8, 2000, the Vietnam Dog Handler Association and War Dog Memorial Fund created a memorial to honor War Dog Teams on Sacrifice Field in Fort Benning, Georgia.
Hartsdale Pet Cemetery and Crematory
Not far from New York City sits the oldest pet cemetery in the country, Hartsdale Pet Cemetery and Crematory. It was founded in 1896, primarily as a place where city dwellers could bury their beloved household pets. New York City veterinarian Samuel Johnson allowed a client to bury her dog on the grounds of his estate, and today nearly 80,000 pets are buried there. Pets of celebrities, including Diana Ross, Kate Smith, and Mariah Carey, are buried at Hartsdale. The animals aren’t limited to dogs and cats; you’ll find the graves of turtles, rabbits, goldfish, snakes, and even a lion named Goldfleck that lived at the Plaza Hotel in New York with a Hungarian princess.
Perhaps one of the most moving sites at Hartsdale is the War Dog Memorial, a 10-foot-high granite monument depicting a German Shepherd Dog with a Red Cross blanket over his back. A dented helmet and a canteen lie at his feet. Johnson, the cemetery’s founder, pitched the idea of the memorial to plot holders in 1919, as a tribute to WWI dogs. Representatives of the nations that fought in the “Great War” attended the memorial’s unveiling in 1923.
War Dog: Sergeant Stubby
If you plan to visit one of the Smithsonian Institution‘s museums, stop and see Sgt. Stubby at the National Museum of American History in Washington, D.C. Stubby was the mascot of the 102nd Infantry of the American Expeditionary Forces’ 26th Yankee Division in World War I.
One day, a brindle puppy with a short tail showed up at a WWI training camp and became so popular with the soldiers that he trained alongside them, even learning a modified dog salute. When it was time to ship out for France, the troops smuggled Stubby onboard. He became a real canine hero on the battlefield: locating lost soldiers; alerting troops to a gas attack; and capturing a German soldier, for which he earned his sergeant stripes.
Stubby returned home to a hero’s welcome — he visited the White House, met Gen. John J. Pershing, and was honored in a parade. When he died in 1926, he was stuffed, and today he stands, along with the medals he won for bravery, at the Smithsonian. He’s also a movie star: “Sgt. Stubby: An American Hero,” a computer-animated film, was released in April 2018.
There’s a second memorial to Stubby. “Stubby Salutes,” a bronze sculpture by artist Susan Bahary, is a new addition to the AKC Museum of the Dog collection in New York City. The statue was unveiled in 2019.
Hollywood Forever Cemetery: Toto Memorial
Hollywood Forever Cemetery, founded in 1899, is known as the final resting place of many movie stars and other industry bigwigs. One of its most endearing memorials honors a canine star, Toto, from the 1939 film “The Wizard of Oz.” Toto’s real name was Terry, and she was a female Cairn Terrier raised on the San Fernando Valley, Calif., ranch of dog trainer Carl Spitz. She was buried on the ranch in 1945, but when the Ventura Freeway was built, the ranch — along with Toto’s grave — was bulldozed.
Several decades later, Hollywood local J.P. Myers led the effort to find a fitting place to memorialize Toto. Tyler Cassity, the owner of the Hollywood Forever Cemetery, donated a plot and marker and Myers started a Facebook campaign to raise money for the memorial, complete with a life-size sculpture of the little dog by artist Roman Gal.
The memorial, in a VIP location with a lake view, was dedicated in June 2011. According to Myers, Toto is not the only member of the Wizard of Oz family buried at Hollywood Forever. “Others include director Victor Fleming, actress Judy Garland, costume designer Adrian Greenberg, and cinematographer Harold Rosson.”
Brownie the Town Dog of Daytona Beach
Once in a while, there are dogs with no particular claim to fame, who win the hearts of an entire town. Brownie the Town Dog of Daytona Beach is one of those special dogs. He was a stray that wandered into the Daytona Cab Company around 1939. His demeanor and sweet disposition took town merchants, residents, and tourists, so they contributed to his care. He even had his own bank account, established by cab company owner, Ed Budgen, and the donated funds paid for his vet bills.
When Brownie died in 1954, more than 75 people attended his funeral, and the mayor of Daytona Beach gave the eulogy. Brownie was buried in Riverfront Park, under a granite slab with the epitaph, “The Town Dog. A good dog.” Near the grave is a dog-shaped topiary. In June 2018, a bronze statue of a dog was placed next to the grave. The memorial is one of the most visited in Florida.
Owney, Mascot of the Railway Mail Service
During the late 19th century, the U.S. mail moved by train, and traveling alongside the mail was a scruffy terrier named Owney. The dog’s home base was the post office in Albany, New York, where the postmaster gave him tags and a collar to designate him as the official mail dog. Owney may well have been the most well-traveled canine in history; he made his way to all 48 contiguous states and had a four-month tour around the world.
After Owney died, mail clerks around the country raised money to have his remains preserved and designated him as the mascot of the U.S. Postal Service. He “lived” on as a taxidermy specimen — tags and all — and was first displayed at the St. Louis World’s Fair in 1904.
Smithsonian taxidermist Paul Rhymer restored Owney to his former glory, with the aid of some replacement parts, including a rabbit’s foot and a pig’s ear. Today you can see him at the National Postal Museum in Washington, D.C. In 2011, the United States Postal Service issued an “Owney the Postal Dog” commemorative forever stamp in his honor.
Jim the Wonder Dog
Jim the Wonder Dog, a descendant of the English Setter, was designated the least promising puppy in his litter, so Sam Van Arsdale of Missouri got him for a bargain price. But the new owner soon realized that this pup was something special. The first time Jim went into the field, he immediately found a covey of quail and stood at the perfect point. His hunting abilities were so extraordinary that Outdoor Life magazine later named him “Hunting Dog of the Country.”
But Jim’s talents went far beyond hunting. He obeyed complex commands and was reported to respond to instructions given in foreign languages and Morse code. Jim was said to predict the future, including the winners of the 1936 World Series, seven consecutive winners of the Kentucky Derby, and the sex of unborn babies. Jim died in 1937, and at Van Arsdale’s request was buried just outside the fence of Ridge Park Cemetery in Marshall, Missouri. In 1999, the town dedicated Jim the Wonder Dog Memorial Park, and artist Andy Davis sculpted a bronze statue that stands in the park.
National Fire Dog Monument
Arson dogs are trained to visit the scene of a fire once it’s been extinguished. There they use their sensitive noses to detect various kinds of accelerants that may have been used to start the fire. When they find a smell they’ve been trained to recognize, they give a signal.
“Ashes to Answers” is a statue by Austin Weishel honoring arson investigation dogs. The monument is at Fifth and F Streets NW in Washington, D.C., behind the D.C. fire department’s Engine Company 2.
Working Dog Monument
The Working Dog Monument, located at Eglin Air Force Base in Fort Walton Beach, Florida, is called “Faithful Partner — Guardian of the Night.” The memorial sculpture, a bronze, life-size German Shepherd Dog created by Susan Bahary, is a formal tribute to all military and civilian law enforcement dogs and their handlers.
At the dedication ceremony, Staff Sgt. Brandon Hardy, said, “Military working dogs serve many roles throughout their career, from protecting heads of state, including the president, to counter drug operations and force protection. K-9s are out on the road each night maintaining order in the community or fighting the war on drugs.”
Sallie, a brindle Staffordshire Bull Terrier, was the mascot for the 11th Pennsylvania infantry regiment from the time she was a pup, accompanying the men on marches and to the battlefield. During the Battle of Gettysburg, she became separated from the regiment. After the battle, the men who returned to the scene of the first day’s fighting found Sallie, weak but alive, standing vigil over the dead and wounded.
Sallie later died during the battle of Hatcher’s Run, Virginia. She was buried on the battlefield and was then depicted on the monument at Gettysburg that honors the 11th Pennsylvania — her regiment.
U.S. Military Working Dog Teams National Monument
U.S. Army combat infantryman and a German Shepherd Scout Dog handler during the Vietnam War, John Burnam, spearheaded the development of the Military Working Dog Teams National Monument. Lackland Air Force Base in San Antonio, Texas, the site of the monument, was chosen because this is where the majority of military dogs and their handlers are trained.
Inscribed with the words “Guardians of America’s Freedom,” the nine-foot-tall bronze statue features the four breeds used most often since World War II (Doberman Pinscher, German Shepherd Dog, Labrador Retriever, and Belgian Malinois).
Sled Dog: Balto
Balto was a sled dog who led a team for the last 53 miles of a grueling journey in 1925 from Anchorage to Nome, Alaska. He was one of the amazing dogs that together covered almost 1,000 miles through blizzards and minus 40-degree temperatures to deliver life-saving medicine to people during a diphtheria epidemic.
Balto’s statue stands proud in Central Park in New York City, where he receives lots of visitors. He is marked by a plaque that highlights his qualities with the words “Endurance, Fidelity, Intelligence.”
Presidential Dog: Fala
Fala may be the most famous First Dog and the only pet represented on a presidential memorial. The Scottish Terrier was an inseparable companion to Franklin Delano Roosevelt on official trips during World War II. In August 1941, Fala accompanied the president to the Atlantic Charter Conference in Newfoundland and met Winston Churchill.
Fala lived in the White House, and he received thousands of letters from people from across the country. He had his own secretary to answer all his fan mail. Today, Fala remains by the side of his president at the FDR Memorial in Washington, D.C.
Want to See Even More Dog Tributes?
We’ve mapped out all the best dog tributes in New York City: