His unique story should be promoted, boosters say.
Brownie the Town Dog never rescued anyone from a fire or saved a child from an abandoned mine. He’s simply remembered as a good dog, a dog that was beloved by the entire town of Daytona Beach and drew visitors from near and far.
Now a bronze statue stands in Riverfront Park on Beach Street, next to his grave near Orange Avenue. City Commissioners and others spoke at a ribbon cutting June 12.
Brownie, a brown, short-haired dog, showed up in town in 1940 and died in 1954, according to the Halifax Historical Society. Local taxi drivers built him a dog house, and he had his own bank account with the money people donated. A local vet provided care and he was fed by townspeople. Schoolchildren would send him Christmas cards and there were magazine stories around the nation. His story can be found at browniethetowndog.org.
Warren Trager, husband of City Commissioner Ruth Trager, remembers Brownie because his family owned several businesses on Beach Street, a busy shopping area at that time.
“You’d see everyone you knew,” Trager said.
That’s why Brownie, who lived on the street, became known to everyone.
Eddie James, local businessman, said it’s a unique story to Daytona Beach and that’s why he led the effort for the memorial. A couple of years ago, he approached Kelly White, city commissioner, and she joined his campaign.
As commissioner, White has worked to improve the park and said the memorial is a good addition. The city has installed a walking/biking trail at the park and has other plans to boost visitation by locals and tourists to the businesses on the street.
James spent two years talking to officials, the Beautification Committee and others, and a vote of approval from the City Commissioners was received last year.
The cost of a bronze statue can be as high as $50,000, but James said they had zero dollars in their budget. He found one online for $2,000, and White used her City Commission discretionary funds to purchase it. Each Daytona Beach commissioner gets discretionary funds from special event proceeds that can be used to support a non-profit.
James believes the statue looks just like Brownie, who was a Lab mix.
There are also two benches by the statue that are from Brownie’s lifetime. White discovered them in city storage and had them restored by Public Works, because Brownie was known for waiting with people as they sat on bus benches. Plaques will be installed on the benches with the names of people who helped Brownie during his life.
Until a few months ago, James owned Brownie’s Dog Boutique on Beach Street. He said there was not enough traffic on Beach Street to support it.
James is happy that he accomplished getting the memorial complete, and proud that it took only two years.
“I’m thrilled,” he said. “People don’t realize how hard it is to get things done.”
He mentioned other parks around the nation devoted to dogs, such as “Forever Faithful - Old Shep” park in Montana, and “Jim the Wonder Dog” park in Missouri.
He said Brownie’s grave was placed in the park by the city so he could look over the street that he loved, and people can continue to visit him.
“Seventy-five years later we’re still talking about him,” James said. “The city loved this dog so much.”