The story of Muggins just keeps getting better

Guest post by Paul Jenkins, Coordinator of the Victoria History Project

Stories about Muggins the fundraising dog always delight, and the stories that continue to unfold over the years just keep getting better. His fame as a four-legged fundraising mascot is now the subject of a recently published book.

A vintage photo of a poster featuring Muggins the fundraising dogBorn in 1913 in the home of a millionaire philanthropist, Muggins was a purebred Spitz – a fluffy-tailed sort of dog most often seen on the lap of a wealthy lady of leisure. But he would become Victoria’s most famous and diminutive fundraiser.

Muggins was taught to wander all by himself through downtown streets during the First World War with two donation boxes tied to his back, collecting funds for charities including the Canadian Red Cross, food for children in need and prisoners of war. The little dog eventually raised an astonishing amount for those causes – the equivalent of $250,000!

During his short life, Muggins visited ferries and ocean liners stopping in Victoria and the question frequently asked from passengers was: “Where is Muggins?” He also famously appeared in photos with the Prince of Wales, General Sir Arthur Currie and alongside soldiers recovering from their war wounds.

Muggins died of pneumonia in 1920, but his good work continued. His body was preserved by a professional taxidermist and, during World War II, could be seen on display at the Red Cross Superfluities Store on Government Street.Archived footage of Muggins the fundraising dog with a woman dressed from 1910s Even after his passing, Muggins inspired fundraising efforts for sick and wounded soldiers.

His story has reached far and wide, with fans from around the world sharing their fond memories of him.

An English woman shared a photograph of a previously unknown painting of Muggins. From Paris came another story from a woman whose own Muggins look-alike Spitz helps with wartime re-enactments.

A further discovery that Library and Archives Canada had a short film clip taken in front of the British Columbia Legislature during the war was another treasured piece of Muggins’ story. It gives a wonderful idea of what he was like and how people contributed to his work in support of the Red Cross.

Book cover of Muggins the fundraising dog pictured standing on a title: Muggins, the life and afterlife of a Canadian canine war hero.Today, the intriguing story of this very special dog has been captured by Grant Hayter-Menzies in his book “Muggins: The Life and Afterlife of a Canadian Canine War Hero.”

Based on valuable documents, memorabilia, and newspaper accounts of Muggins’ brief but brilliant career, the book also tackles the difficult question of the human use of animals in war, at home and on the battlefield. It also explores how crucial animals, specifically dogs, have been to wounded veterans recovering from physical and emotional trauma.

“Muggins: The Life and Afterlife of a Canadian Canine War Hero” can be purchased in-store or online from Tanner's Books in Sidney, B.C. Part of the proceeds from the book’s sales will be donated to the Canadian Red Cross –something Muggins himself would have surely approved of.

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