Among the dogs whose names go down through the years, as a tribute to their wonderful sagacity, stands that of Sailor, the noted Scotch collie of Wood Island, off the Coast of Maine. Sailor was not always a nautical canine, but was born on a Maine dairy-farm where his mother tended the cows. When but a two- months-old puppy, Sailor was brought to Wood Island by his new master, Thomas H. Orcutt, then keeper of the Wood Island Light.
Every one knows the intelligence of the collie and of the patient care with which he guards the farmer’s cows and sheep; hut Sailor, deprived of these usual duties, turned his attention to other things.
On a platform on the outside of the lighthouse was a large bell, with which, by means of rope attached to the tongue, Mr. Orcutt was accustomed to salute all passing craft.
For a long time Sailor had seemed to take great interest in this almost hourly performance. One day, when Mr. Orcutt was busy at his work, he heard the bell ring. Surprised, he listened, and it sounded again—a clear, resonant peal. Mr. Orcutt hurried to the platform, and there stood Sailor, with the bell-rope in his mouth!
At first it was thought that Sailor’s ringing; of the bell was purely accidental, but when, some hours later, Mr. Orcutt started for the bell platform to salute a passing steamer, he found Sailor there! before him, vigorously pulling at the bell-rope.
From that day on, as long as he lived, Sailor rang the bell for every passing vessel which he saw, and in a very short time the captains who passed the island regularly became accustomed to seeing Sailor tugging at the bell-rope, and, one and all, they would send back hearty salutes to the “dog watch” of Wood Island Light.
Several years ago Sailor passed to his “dog- ish” reward, but his memory lives on in the hearts of his friends and his name is often on their lips.
Excerpted from St. Nicholas, Volume 47, Part 2 By Mary Mapes Dodge