He was a true life hero and he lived on the rocky coast of Maine many years ago.

You may be familiar with Spot, who ended up, in the long run, being one of the most famous canines in the state. Spot's actions are now legendary and you may have read his story to your young son or daughter when it was time for bed.

Spot was an English Springer Spaniel and lived light keeper Augustus Hamor and his family back in the 1930s at the Owl's Head Lighthouse at the tip of what is now Owl's Head State Park in Knox County, about an hour and forty-five-minute drive from Bangor. The Lighthouse stands about 100 feet above Penobscot Bay.

DJ Fred photo
DJ Fred photo

The children of the lighthouse keeper eventually taught this soon-to-be Maine hero how to ring the fog bell by pulling its rope when the dog spotted a ship approaching Rockland Harbor. Now of course with Spot being a dog and all his duty wasn't entirely done until he barked his head off until the watercraft was out of sight.

History tells us that Spot spent most of his time with his newfound hobby, running back and forth or just sitting atop the rocky outcroppings of Owl's Head anxiously awaiting a boat or ship.

So how did Spot become a hero?  What, you haven't read the story?

Spot had a favorite boat, and it was the Matinicus mail boat which was piloted by Captain Stuart Ames, and it either stopped at Owl's Head or went by at pretty much the same time every day. The Captain would toot the boat's horn and Spot would ring the fog bell, which when you think about it is really quite amazing. When Mr. Ames would stop at the Lighthouse he would have a treat for his furry friend.

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So the real-life story goes that one stormy winter night the mail boat was two hours late getting back and that the captain's wife called the lighthouse keeper to ask if he had seen it, which he had not.

The wife asked the lighthouse keeper if he would send the dog down to the shore to listen for the toot of the mail boat, which he did.  Unfortunately, Spot's pull rope and bell were buried in the snow, although at first Spot did not hear the whistle and went back into the lighthouse and fell asleep.

Then, much to the surprise of the lighthouse keeper and his family the dog sprang up and wanted to be let out into the blinding snow, as he obviously heard the toot.

The dog barked continuously and the mail boat's whistle tooted. The dog's bark was the navigating tool that allowed the captain of the boat to eventually make it home safely.

The story of Spot the lighthouse dog is written as a children's book by Maine author Angeli Perrow.

One can see where Spot is buried when visiting Owl's Head State Park, where admission is free.

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