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The Canine Formerly Known as Prince (absolutely true story)

One summer during college, in what now seems like the Pleistocene Era, I worked for the Postal Service. This is before the USPS had jeeps, so they were all walking routes. My job was to sub on the regular letter carriers’ days off or on vacations. Not being from the town, I would shadow a letter carrier each day before soloing, so I would know the routes.

Before I had shadowed all of the carriers, one of them called in sick. The postmaster told me I would have to handle his route for the day. “No problem,” I replied, “but where do I go?”

“Just follow Prince,” he told me, directions that made differential calculus seem readily understandable.

The one thing I did know was the first stop was the service station right next to the Post Office. When I got there and handed the proprietor his bundle of mail, he said “Have a good day, Prince.” Prince turned out to be the gas station owner’s dog, and as I left the service bay, Prince smartly (at least compared to my less confident step) led the way. House after house on the 400-plus residence route, the mutt walked up and down streets up to the front stoop where each mail box was located, and through hedges and around fences that I realized were the regular carrier’s short cuts. At about noon, Prince sat under a shade tree. I correctly surmised it was lunch time, so I took out my brown bag, offering half to the dog. After 30 minutes Prince rose (I was smart enough to keep up) and we finished off the day’s walk, ending at the service station. I was sufficiently well trained to find my way back to the Post Office next door.

For a college kid it was a great summer job, carrying a 35-pound sack of mail, walking six or so miles in the sun each day…and possibly being the only postman in history to be trained by man’s best friend. You can have your Lassie’s and Rin Tin Tin’s..…God bless Prince, wherever you are.

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