On the cruise ship dock in Juneau, Alaska, stands the bronze likeness of a Bull Terrier named Patsy Ann. The dog is seated and gazes towards the Gastineau Channel as the incoming ships dock. The statue sits where, for over a decade, Patsy Ann greeted all passengers disembarking onto the Juneau quay and achieved the honorific of the city’s “Official Greeter.”
Patsy Ann was born in Portland, Oregon, on October 12, 1929. She was brought to Juneau as a puppy by her owners. She was all white, and as is sometimes the case with white Bull Terriers, she was completely deaf from birth. Although well-cared for, Patsy disliked being indoors and kept as a pet. Upon reaching adulthood, she eschewed domestic life and confinement in the house. She took to roaming the streets of Juneau, spending most of her time exploring the city docks. She became well-known and beloved by all of the city’s residents. She never wanted for a treat, a meal, an affectionate rub, or a warm place to sleep. She was also the darling of dockworkers, sailors, and passengers arriving at Juneau’s wharves.
Although deaf and unable to hear a ship’s steam whistle, Patsy Ann had the uncanny ability to know when a ship was arriving in Juneau, even before it could be seen. She would also know the exact dock. No matter where she was or what she was doing, she would rush to the city quays to greet an incoming ship. The ships’ crews always had treats ready for her, and disembarking passengers would eagerly look for the famous white dog.
Despite the often unpredictable ship schedules, townspeople and departing passengers knew that Patsy Ann’s dockside appearance heralded a ship’s imminent arrival. She was never wrong and never missed a ship. When ships anchored out in the harbor, she would sometimes jump into Gastineau Channel and swim out to welcome them. In 1934, the city’s Mayor declared her the “Official Greeter of Juneau, Alaska.”
As Patsy Ann’s fame spread, she became the most widely-photographed dog in the west, with her likeness appearing on hundreds of picture postcards. The stevedores gifted her with a beautifully engraved leather collar but she didn’t like wearing it. When not welcoming ships to Juneau, Patsy Ann spent time making rounds around the city. She was fed and coddled by shop owners, hoteliers, restaurant workers, and barkeepers. She even developed a distinctive waddle from the abundance of treats she consumed. Patsy Ann often spent the night bedded down at the Longshoreman’s Union Hall near the docks. When a city ordinance passed requiring all dogs to be licensed, she received a waiver.
Patsy Ann died in her sleep at the Longshoreman’s Union Hall on March 30, 1942. She was 14-years-old. The following morning, accompanied by a large group of mourners, Patsy Ann was given a burial at sea. Her body was placed in a small casket and lowered into the Gastineau Channel from a place on the dock where she so often waited for ships – close to the same spot where her statue now sits.
Fifty years later, the “Friends of Patsy Ann” commissioned a statue for placement on the Juneau docks. Anna Burke Harris, an artist from New Mexico, created the sculpture. In casting the bronze, Harris included actual bits of dog hair and fur donated by people from around the world. When the sculpture was transported, Harris fittingly insisted that the statue make at least part of the journey to Alaska by ship. The statue was unveiled on July 3, 1992. Patsy Ann now sits, once again, on her beloved dock and continues to greet the ships and thousands of cruise passengers arriving in the capital city, just as she did so many years ago.
Know Before You Go
The statue is located on the wharf looking out into Gastineau Channel, between Marine Park and the library and parking garage.