Ship Dog of The Great Lakes
My journey with Sport has been fun and exciting! Several years ago, as I was preparing to be a first-time lightkeeper at the Grand Traverse Lighthouse in Northport, Michigan, I read about Sport, a Newfoundland-Retriever mixed dog who had lived on the United States Lighthouse Service tender, The Hyacinth from 1914-1926.
I didn’t even know what a tender was! I found out that it was a ship that delivered supplies to lighthouses and maintained buoys and navigation aids on lakes and oceans. Lighthouses were, and continue to be all over the world, set firmly on mainlands and offshore, but the tenders were, and are, out on often rough waters making sure that lakes and oceans are safe for navigation.
Once I understood what a tender was, I started wondering what it was like for Sport to live on the ship. I asked myself questions. What kinds of things did the crew do? What did Sport do on the Hyacinth?
Captain Maynard of the Hyacinth wrote that Sport knew more people around Lake Michigan than the crew of The Hyacinth. He sure must have been a friendly dog. His story needed to be told, so he wouldn’t be forgotten!
I hope the book will cause children to ask questions, imagine those past times, and then make comparisons with the times in which they live. Perhaps those children will do what I did. Starting with a small amount of information, they will make their own research adventure! Further information on this website will show ways that families can go on cultural and historical trips.
As I researched and visited maritime sites around the Great Lakes, many people provided information and friendship. I thank all of them, especially Al Muchka, Curator of Collections – American and Local History at the Milwaukee Public Museum.
The staff at the Wisconsin Historical Society Press recognized the need for an historical picture book for children. I am very grateful for all the support, talent and time that those staff members, especially Erika Wittekind, Developmental Editor, gave to the book. I am also very grateful for the talent and vision of Renée Graef, the illustrator, whose illustrations made the story come alive.
And to my family and friends, extra thanks for their support!
Happy sailing to all!