Canine crewman has called ship home 6 years
One crew member on the Chios Charity has a remarkable work record. He has been on board, and on the job, every day for the past six years. He doesn't mind the schedule. He does his job, follows orders and is rewarded handsomely with all the Milk ...
One crew member on the Chios Charity has a remarkable work record. He has been on board, and on the job, every day for the past six years.
He doesn't mind the schedule. He does his job, follows orders and is rewarded handsomely with all the Milk Bones he can eat.
The ship's most faithful sailor, Macho, is a large pit bull and husky mix who came aboard as a puppy in New Orleans and has never known another home.
"All his life he has been aboard," said Capt. Aristodimos Skounakis. "All his life has been sea service."
Macho travels all over the world on the 590-foot Greek freighter that loaded grain this week in Duluth. Their destination is Algeria. The ship, and its canine crew member, typically call on the Twin Ports once or twice a season.
Wherever the ship sails, Macho is welcome. Just as the rest of the crew carries their documents, Macho has his, too. His shot and vaccination records are kept up to U.S. standards.
"He has U.S. documents," Skounakis said. "When he claims his rights, he is a U.S. citizen."
Macho is an active member of the crew and nimbly climbs up and down the ship's ladders. He follows orders well, answering to commands in both Greek and English. When told by the captain to check the whereabouts of an able-bodied seaman, Macho runs to the bridge wing and jumps up on two legs and peers over the rail, scanning the decks below. If he doesn't see who he is looking for, he turns tail and looks aft.
When he hears the whistle for a boat drill, "he listens and goes to his boat station," the captain said.
A clear favorite with the crew, who readily share their cake with him during their coffee breaks, Macho shows admirable restraint when they sit down to dinner.
"He takes nothing from the table," Skounakis said. "If you offer him something, he will take it nicely. If you drop it on the floor, he is insulted and won't eat it. He wants to be treated nicely."
Macho is a nearly constant companion of the chief officer. He sleeps outside his door and keeps watch with him, although when the chief is working hard on the bridge, it is evident from the dog hair on the settee that Macho finds time to nap during a long watch.
Macho's personal habits are easily handled on the deck of the ship, and having a dog aboard has brought nothing but warmth and humor to the crew, Skounakis said.
"He makes no damages, he never bites, he does not bark without reason, and he has good manners," Skounakis said.
"He is very smart," added Skounakis, an obvious animal lover. The captain also keeps two song birds in cages in his office.
While the captain is convinced the dog is happy with his human crew mates, he would eventually like to find Macho a home on dry land. If the ship ever stopped in Greece, Skounakis would find a way to send him to his own farm, to be a companion for his two young daughters.
"He is a nice guardian. No one can come close to the vessel without him knowing it," Skounakis said. "I like him very much. We have mutual feelings. Love can't be hidden."