Dogs at sea

Venus, the bulldog at the wheel of HMS VANSITTART
Venus the bulldog steering the HMS Vansittart.
Image source //www.iwm.org.uk/collections/item/object/205185297
Venus the bulldog steering the HMS Vansittart.
Image source //www.iwm.org.uk/collections/item/object/205185297

Cats at sea might not come as a big surprise – they are excellent hunters and good at keeping pest populations at bay. Dogs have also been popular mascots through the ages, and a large number of four-legged marines have served in the United States sea services.

The dogs build morale and provide relief from the monotony of being at sea for months at a time. They have also served a practical function through warning for dangers, and many have led patrols onto foreign shores.

The photo shows Venus, the naval mascot of British Destroyer Vansittart. The photo is from 1941.

In the US, the English Bulldog has been a mascot of the marines since the first world war. It was unofficial until 1922 when a dog named Jiggs got the official duty for the first time.

There were a long row of dogs named Jiggs, but the modern day mascot is called Chesty. It is always a pure bred English bulldog and the name stays the same for generations. A long line of Chestys have gotten their name from legendary Lt Gen Lewis B ‘Chesty’ Puller Jr. who served in World War II and the Korean War. He is thus far the only Marine to be awarded five navy crosses.

If you want to see more dogs at sea, visit the US Naval Institute’s website here.

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