Mighty Muggins was a Spitz, who never set his paws on the battlefields of the First World War.
But he nonetheless helped those Canadians, who fought for king and country, in becoming an international media star. More than a century after the end of the war, his story continues to fascinate.
Owned by Saanich resident Beatrice Woodward, Mighty Muggins helped to raise funds for the Red Cross and veterans’ associations during and after the First World War.
Saanich archivist Evelyn Wolfe said Woodward, a Gorge Road West resident, either placed him on a display stand in downtown Victoria or simply let him run loose.
“He would wander around downtown Victoria with these little tin boxes strapped to his side, and people would put money in there,” she said.
Overall, the dog raised about $21,000 for the Red Cross as well as well as returning veterans. “Which is the equivalent, I have heard, of about $250,000 today, which is a lot of money.”
For his efforts, he received eight medals from local, national, and foreign organizations, with seven of those medals in the care of Saanich Archives.
“He was internationally known,” said Wolfe.
People would send postcards bearing his image, he met military brass, and the future British King Edward the Eighth when he visited Victoria as Prince of Wales in 1919. Along the way, he developed a loyal local following that protected him from the pound.
One day, he was running around lose around the lawn of the Empress Hotel near his display stand, said Wolfe. The local dog catcher spotted Mighty Muggins, and tried to pick him up to take him to the pound.
“A crowd gathered to prevent that from happening because they weren’t going to let the dog catcher lock up Muggins,” she said.
Little known is about Woodward. “We can only speculate that she was involved in Red Cross efforts, as a lot of women were,” said Wolfe. “It was part of the home front, raising funds and providing boxes [with various items] for soldiers overseas.”
While Muggins was seven years old when he died in 1920, his efforts have him immortalized him in more than one way.
“He was mourned when he died, and they actually stuffed his body and put him on display,” said Wolfe. In fact, he continued to raise money, as a stuffed dog, right up until the Second World War.