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‘Transmitter Dogs’ Serve Faithfully

Travel companions, tool guards alike

Here’s a story for the dog days of summer.

Many engineers take their dogs with them so as to have a buddy or two alongside for the ride out to a remote transmitter site.

A telecom and radio engineer in Texas whose dog recently passed away described his faithful companion of 10 years to other engineers on the Pub Tech radio listserv. Chris later characterized Max to me as a “transmitter dog” who could be intimidating “but was a big play puppy.”

Following up on the online pooch discussion, I contacted Chris Boone, who started in radio in the ’70s as assistant chief engineer of KLVI(AM), Beaumont, Texas in his late teens. He found his dog Max at the former KLIF(AM), Irving, Texas transmitter site in 2001. Chris had Max, a Rottweiler-German Shepherd mix for 10 years. “I never regretted taking him home … and when I went to other tower sites, he went with me and was always careful not to get into anything energized.”

Max was euthanized this week due to a spinal injury.

Max He’s shown here at about 1-1/2 years old at the KTVT Channel 11 tower in Cedar Hill, Texas.

Chris has had several radio gigs over the years, including chief engineer of KDMX(FM) and KEGL(FM) in Dallas-Fort Worth. He still does IT/telecom and radio work while serving as the Society of Broadcast Engineers local frequency coordinator.

Other engineers I reached out to described their “transmitter dogs.”

Dan Houg, chief engineer of KAXE(FM), Grand Rapids, Minn., has a German Shepherd named Bee. Dan says he can leave her in the car — with the windows down, of course — and “she’ll park herself in the driver’s seat and wait patiently, upright behind the wheel.” As soon as Bee sees Dan, she moves over to the passenger side.


After a transmitter site visit, he just has to say a simple “Let’s go,” when it’s time to get back in the car.

“In addition to my traveling companion, Bee is my car security system on parts runs, Dan tells me. “I can leave my toolbox, laptop, etc. out in the open with the windows down. Car and dog stay cool, no one enters!”

George Nicholas, director of engineering for NRG Media, wanted to honor his English Springer Spaniel, Murphy, seen here on a consolidation project in Stevens Point, Wis.

“Murph was getting up there in age and liked to find a spot (usually right where you needed to work) and just fall asleep.” George says his boss was great about Murphy traveling with him, as it allowed the NRG engineer more time to be away from home. The local staff loved her visits, he recalls, and said “at one point, she even had her own locker, at floor level, of course, where the staff would occasionally stick dog biscuits.”

George Nicholas, left, & Murphy

Murphy passed away in January of 2009, just shy of her 17th birthday.

Shane Toven, director of engineering for Wyoming Public Media says Callie, a former shelter dog, is a Black Lab/Chow/Rottweiler mix who goes with him on lots of site visits.

“I had brought her out to a local commercial AM/FM combo I do some work for and left her in the truck with the windows down. She usually lays nicely on the front seat and waits for my return. This time, however, I looked out the door of the engineering shop down the hall and who do I see patiently sitting at the front door of the station grinning at me with a tennis ball in her mouth? You guessed it …”

Shane has another rescue dog, Betsy, a Beagle and Whippet mix. She’s more “energetic” than Callie so she doesn’t come to the transmitter sites with Shane quite as often. But when she does, he says Betsy’s favorite activity is burrowing her snout into holes in the ground sniffing for various critters.

Callie, left, and Betsy at the KUWG(FM), Gillette, Wyo. transmitter site in front of the Harris Z4HD transmitter.

Callie, (left) & Betsy

Biscuit, (far left) Rye & Cinnamon
Betsy sounds like my three toy poodles, (from left) Biscuit, Rye and Cinnamon — all siblings.

Do you have a transmitter dog? Tell me about him or her, and send a photo to [email protected].