Does a maritime museum excite you? Wait.. What if there’s dogs? Maritime dogs.
That’s what the charming new temporary exhibit called Sea Dogs at the Door County Marine Museum in Wisconsin is about. Opened in May it’s running for a least a year – they’ll keep it up for a while for good reason.
One, it took time to bring together this exhibit about dogs on Navy vessels and fishing boats, rescuing people from the sea and living in lighthouses.
Two, it’s attracting a different clientele to the museum, primarily families and dog lovers.
The brainchild of the previous curator, Sea Dogs is upstairs in this four-gallery museum dedicated to Door County peninsula maritime history. (There’s 300 miles of shoreline here.) It houses artifacts such as a replica of Door County’s Sherwood Point Lighthouse lantern, a working submarine periscope giving visitors a unique view of Surgeon Bay and the John Purves tugboat docked outside ready for tours.
Sea Dogs is a combination of traditional wall-mounted information, life-sized replicas of famous Fidos, interactive computer screens where you can play dog-to-the-rescue video games and a kid’s dress up play area that allows little ones to crawl into a full-sized dog house for photo opts.
But the dog stories are most endearing. Take Sinbad for instance. Starting in 1938, he served on the U.S. Coast Guard’s cutter The Campbell. He had his own bunk and uniform. He even took shore leave with the sailors and was rumoured to be as mischievous as any of them.
Occasionally reprimanded for bad behavior and even court martialed once, Sinbad was known to create disturbances on foreign soil. Yet he earned celebrity status during World War II appearing on T.V. and posters. He served 11-years on the boat before retiring with an honorable discharge to the Barnegat Light Station.
Then there’s Pete, the pooch, also a Coast Guard hero. During wartime, he was a mooring expert, jumping off the dock after a boat’s line then swimming it to shore to tie up the vessel.
Some people might love hulls, gulls and shipbuilding history, but that doesn’t set all hearts a swell. A dog in a sailor’s suit, however … who can resist?
TRAVEL GUIDE: Door County, Wisconsin is a peninsula on the east side of the state reaching north toward Michigan. Outdoor tourism is the number one industry in this region that’s adjacent to Green Bay and punctuated by smaller harbours around its coast.
The Door County Maritime Museum in Sturgeon Bay, Wisconsin is open year round seven days a week and admission is $10 to $13 per person. See the Sea Dogs video here.
Want to know more about Door County’s dog-friendly travels? Check out Part I of the series – Chicago Fireboat Tour.
Learn more about Sinbad the Coast Guard Dog pick up his biography from Amazon here.