Submarine Macots (Pets)
During WWII, many submarines carried dogs or cats as mascots.
Dogs could serve a practical function, leading patrols onto foreign shores to search for food and barking a warning if there was danger. Cats have served as pest control on ships for centuries. Any and all submarine pets provided relief from the monotony of being at sea for months on end.
USS Gar (SS-206) had a dog come aboard while she was in Hawaii on her 10th patrol. She was a small mongrel puppy that could fit in a sailor’s hat. The crew took an immediate liking to her naming her Garbo-- she remained on board for the rest of the Gar ’s fifteen war patrols.
Garbo earned the combat submarine insignia that she wore on her collar, along with a star for each successful patrol she made on the Gar. Under heavy depth charge attacks, when the gauges were leaking, light bulbs breaking, and fires breaking out, Garbo remained as playful as ever. Bunn said, “She should have gotten a medal for keeping our spirits and morale up when we needed it most.”
Between patrols Garbo stayed with the crew at their hotel in Pearl Harbor. She joined in the ship’s parties, and like some of her two-legged shipmates, didn;t know when to quit.
Garbo gave birth to two puppies while the sub was en route to Ulithi and at the end of the war, when the Gar returned to the States, Chief Motor Machinist Mate Jim Ellis extended his home to her where she lived out her remaining years.
USS Skate (SS-305) had a chicken for a mascot. Chickens weren’t even the most unusual submarine pet. WWI submarine O-3 (SS-64) had a goat on board.