You would be hard pressed to find an unleashed dog roaming the aisles of a Long Island Railroad train car today (though we don’t think we’d mind it), but 100 years ago a free spirited pup named Roxey ruled the rails. The story goes that in 1901 a young lady boarding a LIRR train headed towards Roslyn handed her puppy, a Terrier and Pitbull mix named Roxey, to a railroad employee. Then, due to some mysterious mix-up en-route, Roxey and his owner were never reunited at their final destination. The orphaned puppy spent the next 12 years riding the rails, searching for his long lost companion. But don’t worry, this is a happy story!
Though Roxey lost his owner, he gained a new family among LIRR staff and commuters. Dubbed the LIRR’s good-will ambassador, employees considered it good luck to play host to Roxey when he visited. For the rest of his life Roxey, would roam the various branches of the train system with a special travel pass on his collar that was issued by LIRR President Ralph Peters. Once it was completed in 1910, Roxey would often disembark at Penn Station where he would be greeted by railroad employees and treated to a hardy meal.
One time, Roxey even got to ride with a U.S. President! Theodore Roosevelt often took the LIRR to his home at Sagamore Hill and on one journey found Roxey in his car. Rather than kick the mutt out, Roosevelt let the dog stay with him for the whole ride from Long Island City to Oyster Bay. Not surprising given Roosevelt’s love for animals
In 1914 Roxey passed away peacefully at the Merrick Station where he is remembered with a special headstone donated by a group of female commuters in 1915. You can still pay your respects to Roxey at his memorial below the train tracks, it can be found south of the station building near Sunrise Highway. A water bowl built into the memorial is often filled with flowers.
In 2010 Roxey became the star of his own book, “Miles of Smiles: The Story of Roxey, the Long Island Rail Road Dog” by Long Island author Heather Worthington and illustrator Bill Farnsworth. The book was celebrated with a special ceremony and signing at Penn Station. At the ceremony, Mrs. Barbara Keefe’s first grade class from the Trinity Regional School in East Northport, winners of the railroad’s annual school safety contest, were given signed copies of the book. There was even a Roxey lookalike, from Little Shelter in Huntington, named Lemon.
For more pet news, check out 10 of NYC’s Most Famous Cats!