Written by Petty Officer 3rd Class Ali Flockerzi
The sun has risen over Coast Guard Station New York, glistening off the Hudson River, reminding the servicemen and women there is work to be done. Many crew members are tending to their duties; performing boat checks, handing over yesterday’s watch-standing responsibilities, checking email. The sweltering heat of summer causes sweat to drip down the crew members’ foreheads and cheeks, soaking their dark blue t-shirts. No clouds can be seen in the sky and these hard working Coast Guard men and women are in for a hot and humid summer day.
One service member, though, is lying lazily on the cool, wooden floor in a sun-soaked spot in the main building. His particular position is smack-dab in the center of a busy doorway; his shipmates step precariously over and around his furry, golden body, trying not to disturb his slumber. As if anything could bother him enough to move.
“He was supposed to be a seeing eye dog but failed the last test,” said Petty Officer 1st Class Leslie Morales, a yeoman stationed at Station New York. “It was either helping someone cross a bridge or going to a hotdog stand. He went to the hot dog stand.”
Now, Petty Officer 1st Class Harry is anything but lazy. He is a little on the hefty side, but he’s definitely not lazy.
“Actually, we’re waiting to make him Chief. He’s going to advance soon,” said Morales. “He is in the weight program right now…as soon as he makes 99 pounds, we’re going to do his promotion.”
For almost 10 years, Harry’s days have begun by begging successfully for treats and scratches before going about his daily station duties. Harry usually takes a companion for a walk outside where he patrols the borders of the unit, chases birds, rolls in the grass and keeps an eye out for squirrels. His favorite location is beneath a large, lush tree perched on the side of a hill, overlooking the station. The shade cast from its branches is the perfect place to keep cool while guarding his unit.
Harry’s tongue lolls in and out of his mouth with every quick pant, while his watchful gaze conveys that he knows what it means to protect his shipmates.
In his prime, as a young pup, Harry used to enjoy donning his Coast Guard approved life jacket and going out on the water with the crew. After a few incidents falling overboard and due to his age, Harry sticks to land, but always remembers to greet the boat crews at the end of the day when they return from being underway.
“He loves to go underway,” said Morales. “When he was a puppy, he loved it more, but now he’s getting kind of older and it’s harder for him because he’s fallen in the water before. But he does love and enjoy to be with the crew outside.”
Harry lives at the station 24 hours a day, keeping his fellow shipmates company when they are on duty. He helps newcomers to the unit get accustomed to their new life and boosts the morale of his shipmates when he senses they are stressed. He is a constant reminder to be grateful for the small things in life like a tasty, crunchy treat or a smelly, old, stuffed duck.
“I really, really thank God every single day because he’s right next to me and every time I’m having a bad day, he takes me for a walk,” said Morales. “He makes me feel better every single day.”
Editor’s Note: Harry advanced to Chief on June 4, 2015