Owney the Postal Dog Wants You

October 6th, 2011

You don’t write enough letters. Neither do I for that matter, but I’ll wager I write more than most. I’m talking about real letters, the kind with paper and envelopes and stamps. It seems that our national postal service, one of the neatest things that our government does for us, is suffering from neglect.

If you each mailed just one letter a week, think what it would do for the postal service. Even a postcard would help. And great-aunt Martha would be so very pleased to hear from you. Besides, it’s a good mental exercise, it’s fun, and the panoply of charming stationery at your local shop is matched only by the colorful selection of stamps at your nearest post office. What, you don’t know where your post office is? For shame!

Before telephones, cell phones, or internet, the only way to communicate across distances was by post. The postal service was laid out in the 1770s, and Benjamin Franklin, arguably the most interesting founding father, served as the first postmaster general. Until the late 19th century, home delivery wasn’t standard in all places. Instead, your letters were delivered to the local post office, and you had to go pick them up each day, or engage a local private carrier to bring them to your home.

I know everyone is always complaining that the postal rates keep going up. But when you stop to think, you can drop a letter or a card into the mail box on your corner on Tuesday morning, and by Friday afternoon it’s waiting on someone’s front stoop all the way across the country. Where else can you get that kind of service for only 44 cents?

Not that you need any more reasons to go write a letter this instant, but isn’t this dog adorable?


Read all about Owney the Postal Dog on the Smithsonian website. Then trot over to the USPS website to purchase a sheet of Owney’s commemorative stamps!