In Alaska in 1913, a Wells Fargo dog sled team transported gold 428 miles by trail from Iditarod to Tanana.
In Alaska in 1913, a Wells Fargo dog sled team transported gold 428 miles by trail from Iditarod to Tanana.
Photo Credit: Wells Fargo Corporate Archives

Wells Fargo’s faithful companion canines

In honor of the 2018 Lunar New Year, the Year of the Dog, meet some of the dogs that served as devoted companions and protectors of Wells Fargo team members.

February 9, 2018
Marianne Babal
Marianne Babal

Marianne Babal is a Wells Fargo historian.

The 2018 Lunar New Year begins Feb. 16, kicking off celebrations for the Year of the Dog.

Those born in the Year of the Dog (years 2018, 2006, 1994, 1982, 1970, 1958, 1946, 1934, and 1922) are known as the ultimate protectors, and family is of the utmost importance to them, according to the Chinese zodiac. Like canine companions, they are said to possess the qualities of a loyal friend and are unafraid of difficulties in daily life. Personality traits include steadfast determination, protective leadership, intelligence, cleverness, heartfelt devotion, and decisive morality.

Wells Fargo’s 2018 lunar calendar celebrates the Year of the Dog.
Wells Fargo’s 2018 lunar calendar celebrates the Year of the Dog.

The dog is the 11th symbol in the Chinese zodiac. From Wells Fargo’s earliest days, dogs were the devoted companions and protectors of many team members. In the mid-1850s, agent John Q. Jackson shipped several hundred pounds of gold each month from Wells Fargo’s office in Auburn, California, to various locations. The responsibility and risk of handling large amounts of gold weighed heavily on Jackson’s mind, but the enterprising Wells Fargo agent quickly found a solution: A large dog joined the office staff. In a letter to his family back in Virginia, Jackson described the 128-pound canine as “a friend, counselor, and safeguard” and “a very intelligent and noble fellow devoted to his business who takes as much interest in the office, seemingly, as anyone connected with the establishment.”

Tiger

Not far from Jackson’s office, agent Thomas Hotchkiss owned a large dog named Tiger, who faithfully guarded Wells Fargo’s office safe in Iowa Hill, California. On Feb. 12, 1857, a fire burned through the town, and although Hotchkiss twice pulled “Old Tig” from the building, the loyal dog returned to his post and passed away. The local newspaper, Placer Herald, mourned him as a faithful guard, “ever true to the duties of his master.”

The steadfast loyalty of Tig and many other dogs endeared them to workers everywhere, and their contributions became a part of Wells Fargo’s history. In fact, an alert dog guarding a safe or treasure box became a universal symbol of security throughout the express transportation business, utilized by Wells Fargo and several of its competitors. Dogs sometimes even rode as “helpers” aboard wagons or trains and became beloved mascots of many Wells Fargo offices.

Several other dogs are remembered for their contributions to Wells Fargo.

Boozer

Boozer, who traveled with Wells Fargo’s messengers on trains from coast to coast in the 1910s.
Boozer, who traveled with Wells Fargo’s messengers on trains from coast to coast in the 1910s.
Photo Credit: Wells Fargo Corporate Archives

Boozer wandered into the Wells Fargo Polk Street Depot in Chicago as a puppy, suffering from a broken leg. After being nursed back to health by Wells Fargo team members, Boozer became a celebrity. The terrier accompanied the company’s messengers on trains from coast to coast in the 1910s, but seemed most at home with his human friends in the Windy City.

Bum

Wells Fargo used to transport dogs for customers. One adventurous little Scottish terrier started his career with Wells Fargo after escaping from his crate during shipment. He reappeared in a few weeks, but his owner no longer wanted him, so team members adopted him and named him Bum. He continued his freewheeling lifestyle, traveling by train to company offices throughout the U.S. and Mexico in the 1910s.

Teddy

Wells Fargo Messenger featured Teddy in its March 1916 edition.
Wells Fargo Messenger featured Teddy in its March 1916 edition.
Photo Credit: Wells Fargo Corporate Archives

Teddy, a stray poodle, helped foil a burglary in progress at the Wells Fargo office in San Mateo, California, in 1916. As a reward, he was adopted as an official Wells Fargo team member — with a new collar and license to prove it.

Jack

Perched atop a Wells Fargo treasure box, Jack reminded people of Wells Fargo’s vigilance in attending to customer security.
Photo Credit: Wells Fargo Corporate Archives

The most famous Wells Fargo dog of all was named Jack, who still appears on Wells Fargo products and internal videos. At San Francisco’s Midwinter Fair in 1894, Wells Fargo team member Lew Bay posed his puppy on a Wells Fargo treasure box.

This portrait of Jack became a popular fair souvenir and a reminder of all of Wells Fargo’s faithful companion canines. Perched atop a Wells Fargo treasure box, Jack reminded people of Wells Fargo’s vigilance in attending to customer security.

Both horses and hounds accompanied Wells Fargo wagons in Oakland, California, in 1906.
A canine co-pilot rides in this Wells Fargo wagon in Alamogordo, New Mexico, in 1907.
An illustration from Wells Fargo Messenger in May 1916; Irish, pictured here in 1899, became the mascot of Wells Fargo’s office in Mexico City for many dog years.
Both horses and hounds accompanied Wells Fargo wagons in Oakland, California, in 1906.
Photo Credit: Wells Fargo Corporate Archives
A canine co-pilot rides in this Wells Fargo wagon in Alamogordo, New Mexico, in 1907.
Photo Credit: Wells Fargo Corporate Archives
Rowdy on duty in Lordsburg, New Mexico, in 1904.
Photo Credit: Wells Fargo Corporate Archives
A border collie co-worker at Wells Fargo’s office in Fort Bragg, California, in 1904.
Photo Credit: Wells Fargo Corporate Archives
Wells Fargo’s 1883 directory of offices and agents showed an “alert and faithful” dog guarding a Wells Fargo treasure box, safe, and customer parcels.
Photo Credit: Wells Fargo Corporate Archives
An illustration from Wells Fargo Messenger in May 1916; Irish, pictured here in 1899, became the mascot of Wells Fargo’s office in Mexico City for many dog years.
Photo Credit: Wells Fargo Corporate Archives
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