2014-03-20 / News

Coast Guard Mascot Dog Onyx Receives Promotion for 7 Years of Service

By Erich T. Doerr


At right: Onyx, the black Labrador retriever mascot of Coast Guard Station St. Ignace, was given an honorary promotion from Third Class Petty Officer to Second Class Petty Officer this winter for her seven years of good work at the base and in the community. She received her unofficial title, along with a certificate and a new collar with her rank insignia on it. Here (not in order) Petty Officers Keith Fruncillo, Kelsey Lopez, and Jason Kiefer carry out the promotion ceremony while Onyx looks on. At right: Onyx, the black Labrador retriever mascot of Coast Guard Station St. Ignace, was given an honorary promotion from Third Class Petty Officer to Second Class Petty Officer this winter for her seven years of good work at the base and in the community. She received her unofficial title, along with a certificate and a new collar with her rank insignia on it. Here (not in order) Petty Officers Keith Fruncillo, Kelsey Lopez, and Jason Kiefer carry out the promotion ceremony while Onyx looks on. After seven years of loyal service to Coast Guard Station St. Ignace, mascot Onyx the dog has unofficially been promoted to the rank of Second Class Petty Officer. Her promotion ceremony was held Friday morning, January 31, following a unanimous vote of approval by the station’s crew.

Onyx, a black Labrador retriever, has been living at Station St. Ignace since the crew adopted her from the local animal shelter. After Onyx spent years as a Third Class Petty Officer, Station Senior Chief Michael Beatty said the crew proposed the idea of her promotion this winter. The Coast Guard has no official criteria for the promotion of station mascots and Onyx’s new title is for honorary purposes only.


Onyx, the black Labrador retriever mascot of Coast Guard Station St. Ignace, was given an honorary promotion. The benefits of her promotion included a special meal, a new leash, and this new collar displaying the insignia of her new ceremonial rank. Onyx, the black Labrador retriever mascot of Coast Guard Station St. Ignace, was given an honorary promotion. The benefits of her promotion included a special meal, a new leash, and this new collar displaying the insignia of her new ceremonial rank. Onyx’s title is ceremonial but her benefits to the station are not. She has become well known for her gentle behavior during the station’s public events and when working at community outreach programs in the area. She played a starring role in the children’s book “Adventures of Onyx” by St. Louis author Tyler Benson, a Coast Guardsman formerly stationed in St. Ignace. Mr. Benson wrote the book to teach children about what life in the Coast Guard is like.

“We take her with us to the schools,” Senior Chief Beatty said. “She does a lot for the community and we thought she should be rewarded.”

Onyx also takes part in training activities at the base, including going out on the ice to provide a watchful eye when the crew practices rescues. While it is forbidden for her to go with the crews on real rescue missions, she is allowed to ride on the station’s vessels during other assignments.

When riding on any of the station’s boats, Onyx is required to wear a lifejacket, allowing her to promote awareness of the concept to other pet owners. Canine life jackets are intended to keep their four-legged occupants in an upright swimming position when they are in the water.

“She enjoys the boats,” Senior Chief Beatty said. “She knows when they are going out.”

Petty Officers Keith Fruncillo, Kelsey Lopez, and Jason Kiefer carried out Onyx’s promotion ceremony. During the ceremony she was issued a new collar including her new Second Class Petty Officer insignia and given a certificate about her new title. The station noted her promotion will not include any increase in pay or benefits, as occurs when the station’s human staff advance in rank, but she did receive a new leash and a special dog-friendly meal with dessert.

“It was fun,” Senior Chief Beatty said. “We all had a blast.”

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