7 Working Animals to Honor on Labor Day

This Labor Day, not only do we want to pay homage to the hardworking humans of America, but we also want to celebrate some of the hardest-working animals throughout history.

Take a moment of your holiday to read about these seven horses and dogs who we're honoring for their important contributions to America. You may have heard the tales of the mail-carrying Pony Express horses or Balto, the brave Siberian Husky who delivered medicine to an Alaska town in dire need of it, but there's so much more to learn about other hardworking canines and equines.

Hardworking Animals Throughout History

Courtesy of Leatherneck: Magazine of the Marines

Staff Sgt. Reckless, Korean War hero

Staff Sgt. Reckless, a Mongolian mare, earned the Marines’ highest honors for her heroism and dauntless character in battle during the Korean War. Reckless delivered ammo to the recoilless rifle platoon’s firing sites. At first fellow Marines would lead her — later she could make the trip to and from the ammo dump by herself. During just one battle, Reckless made 51 trips under enemy fire, most of them by herself. She was wounded twice but didn’t quit.

Stephen Chernin, AP

Trackr, a 9/11 hero

Trackr was a German Shepherd police dog who along with his master, James Symington, were among the first search-and-rescue teams to arrive at Ground Zero after the September 11, 2001, attacks. Trackr and Symington are credited with locating the last survivor beneath the rubble. Before Trackr passed away in April 2009, Symington wrote an essay for a contest to find the world's most "clone-worthy dog," and Trackr was selected. Five little Trackr's were born in June that same year.

Pony Express Historical Image
The Pony Express horses, communication pioneers

While the Pony Express was only in operation for 18 months between April 1868 and October 1869, it is undeniable that the hardworking horses deserve recognition. The horses helped riders carry mail from Missouri to California in only 10 days. Forever synonymous with the Old West, Pony Express riders changed horses about every 12 to 15 miles, and in all, the line covered 1,800 miles of wilderness.

Morris Frank and Buddy the seeing eye dog

Bettmann, Corbis / AP

Buddy, the first seeing eye dog

"Buddy" Fortunate Fields made history in 1928, when he became the first seeing eye guide dog in the U.S. He made her worldwide debut with her handler Morris Frank in New York City, when Frank surprised reporters by stepping off the curb to cross West Street and he and Buddy safely reached the other side. Morris later helped found The Seeing Eye, the oldest existing guide dog school in the world.

NYPD Horses

© Sherab / Alamy

NYPD horses, protectors of the Big Apple

It only makes sense that one of the largest mounted units in the United States works to protect the country's most populated locale: New York City. The "10-foot-tall cops" in the New York City Police Department's horse patrol are fixtures of Times Square, and undoubtedly grace the photo albums of many a Big Apple tourist.

Balto With Musher Gunnar Kaasen

By Brown Brothers, via Wikimedia Commons

Balto, the great racer of mercy

Balto, pictured here with musher Gunnar Kaasen, is credited with saving the city of Nome, Alaska, from a deadly diphtheria epidemic in 1925. The Siberian Husky led his team on a treacherous 53-mile stretch of the famous serum delivery, often called the Great Race of Mercy. Since Balto's death at age 14, his body has been on permanent display at the Cleveland Museum of Natural History.

Blackjack the Horse at Kennedy Funeral

By SP/4 David S. Schwartz, U. S. Army (John F. Kennedy Library and Museum), via Wikimedia Commons

Black Jack, the riderless horse

In one of the most famous American military traditions, a full-honors funeral features a riderless horse with boots reversed in the stirrups. Black Jack was the last of the Quartermaster–issue horses branded with the Army's symbol, and rode in the funerals of Presidents John F. Kennedy, Herbert Hoover and Lyndon B. Johnson.


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