"Borough Gossip:" Canopis the Dog Swims Away

This is an article about Canopis, the dog. Born in Red Hook, he was owned by a local fish dealer who fed him a steady diet of fish. According the the article, this diet led to him develop webbed feet and other sea-creature-like deformities. One day, Canopis jumped off the wharf into the water and swam away at a speed of over 22.5 knots.

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 There is great consternation among the longshoremen and seafaring people of Red Hook, for Canopis has deserted his old home and has gone to seek new environs.  Canopis was born in Red Hook section.  By birth he was a bulldog – a blue blooded one, according to the local reports.  His master was a fish dealer, and early initiated Canopis into the business.  It became the dog’s duty to look after the store when the proprietor stepped out for a moment or two now and then to pass the time of day with the proprietor of the booze emporium next door.

 In those days the dog, it is said, rebelled against the responsibilities thus thrust upon him, but in time he acquired an actual liking, for the fish trade and for the disenfranchised denizens of the deep.  He would watch his master with sparkling eyes as he removed the shinning scales from his wares or pried the retiring bivalve from his calcareous retreat.  Neighbors recall with what yelps of delight he would spring upon his hind legs to catch in his mouth the clam or oyster tossed him occasionally as a reward for his faithfulness.

 From the first Canopis was compelled to subsist entirely upon the portions of the stock that threatened to spoil.  Several years went by, and the small boys of the section, all of whom were great friends of the dog, began to point out with glee that he was developing web feet.  Not only did the growth between his toes continue, but the toes themselves lengthened until Canopis could walk inly with the greatest difficulty.

 His master took pity upon him and provided him with an old washtub, which was kept full of water.  The dog would slop about in it from morning to night, seemingly with much pleasure.  Next his hair began to fall off, leaving his hide yellow, tough  and glistening.  Soon after his feet began to show their abnormal change in form, it was noticed that his mouth was gradually loosing its original shape, too.  Bony ridges began to appear in it and these finally grew into plates not unlike these found in the mouths of whales, though, of course, vastly smaller.

 The trouble arose in feeding him, and in the end his diet was practically reduced to jellyfish, which his master had no easy time securing.

 After Canopis lost the use of his feet for walking boys of the section got into the habit  of carting him about the streets  on their little wagons.  One day, while they had him out for an airing near the waterfront, the attention of the youngsters was attracted by some excitement in the neighborhood and they rushed off.  They had forgotten all about him, when they heard a sharp yelp, followed by a splash of the water.

 They rushed to the side of the dock in time to see Canopis come to the surface a hundred feet away, and, disregarding their calls and whistles, strike out into the bay.,  The next day a vessel arrived with the report that just outside Sandy Hook the crew had been drawn to the starboard by sounds like those if a dog barking.

 All hands soon observed in the water a few fathoms’ length from the ship a creature that liked like a hairless canine of the bull variety.  Thinking to save the presumably shipwrecked animal, the master ordered a boat lowered, but the creature, with a flourish of a stump of a tail, took off so rapidly that the oarsmen could not overtake him, and after a long stern chase were compelled to turn back and abandon him to his fate.

 When last observed he was making a nor‘easterly direction as a speed estimated direction at a speed estimated at not less than 22 ½ knots.


Dec. 11, 1910


  • New York Daily Tribune

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