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Muggins, the Red Cross Dog

For the week of January 4, 2016

On January 7, 1919, the Victoria and Island Development Association displayed a painting of Muggins, the Red Cross dog by war artist Mary Riter Hamilton. The portrait was in honour of this widely-known and beloved small white spitz, who raised money for the Red Cross in Victoria, British Columbia, during the First World War.

A postcard of Muggins. Postcards were often given to people who made donations
© Courtesy of Sylvia Van Kirk

Muggins collected a remarkable $21,000 in donations during the war. Well trained by his owner, Mrs. G.W. Woodward, he set off alone through downtown Victoria with two donation boxes tied over his back. He was a familiar sight in Victoria, bringing cheer during the dark years of the Great War.

Other times, he waited by the harbour and welcomed boats from Vancouver, Seattle, and Asia. Muggins also appeared at many Red Cross fundraisers and local events such as the Victoria Day parade. Following the war, he continued to collect money for other charities.

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Sir Arthur William Currie and Muggins in Victoria, British Columbia
© Canada. Patent and Copyright Office / Library and Archives Canada

Muggins was featured in many magazines and his fame spread worldwide. He received international fan mail! For his contributions to the war effort, he was awarded seven medals from various organizations, including awards from the United States and France.

On January 14, 1920, Muggins died of pneumonia. He was only seven years old. The next day, both daily newspapers in Victoria published long obituaries celebrating his life. Stuffed by a taxidermist, his body was lent to the Red Cross to help promote their fund-raising efforts during the Second World War. Today, both his body and the painting by Hamilton have been lost.

Sir Arthur William Currie (pictured with Muggins) is designated as a National Historic Person for his leadership in the First World War. Read “Sergeant Gander Reporting for Duty!” and “Canadian Veterinarians Join the Fight!” in the This Week in History archives to learn more about animals in war. To learn about the First World War, visit the Government of Canada’s World War Commemorations page.

Follow us on Twitter @ParksCanada! Also, click here to learn about the Historic Sites and Monuments Board of Canada.

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