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Who is Patsy Ann?

by Beverley Wood

Juneau, Alaska -- Well, the Official Greeter of Juneau has done it again. Start with the $30,000 statue erected at the Juneau waterfront in her honor on the 50th anniversary of her death (1992). Move to: T-shirts, postcards and coffee mugs. Fast forward October, 1997: Mass market paperback novel -- DogStar -- immortalizes Juneau's First Dog. Movie deal in the works. Patsy Ann lives again. What is it about this dog?

A bull terrier who arrived in Juneau as a pup in 1929, Patsy Ann was stone deaf from birth. Yet she somehow heard ships approaching long before they were in sight and would trot to the wharf, not to be deterred for any purpose. Tourists came to expect her on the docks -- she was the most famous canine west of the Mississippi, more photographed than Rin Tin Tin. In 1934, then-Mayor Godstein proclaimed Patsy Ann Official Greeter of Juneau, Alaska.

Rheumatism brought on by unscheduled dives into the cold waters of Gastineau Channel slowed her gait in later years. Yet she still headed for the wharf, on the double, whenever ship whistles shook old Juneau's boardwalks. On March 31, 1992, the day after she died in her sleep -- fittingly at the Longshoreman's Hall -- a crowd of mourners gathered as her small coffin was lowered into Gastineau Channel a short distance from where her statue now sits. Greeting hundreds of thousands of cruise ship tourists each year she fulfills her duties to this day, whether shrouded in fog, bathed in sunshine or covered with snow. May her spirit live forever.

To learn more about Patsy Ann and her incredible story, visit her website at http://www.patsyann.com.

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