Celebrating the heroic dogs of Saanich past

Cedar Hill exhibit features great dogs of history

Saanich is celebrating the Chinese Year of the Dog with an exhibit dedicated to famous Saanich dogs.

The exhibit features 20 beloved Saanich dogs, and two cats, that lived from the late 1800s to the 1960s. It includes photographs and artifacts are on display at the Arts Centre at Cedar Hill until March 6.

From working dogs to family pets, the exhibit celebrates the contributions our four-legged friends have made to the municipality’s history, said archivist Kerri Ward.

Is any Saanich dog as historically famous as Muggins the Red Cross dog? Lesser known in 2018, Muggins was a wandering celebrity exactly one century ago. Each day Muggins, a small Spitz dog, would travel from his Gorge Road West home to a special stand by the legislature building. For years he walked the streets of downtown Victoria with donation boxes harnessed to his sides. Muggins visited hospitals, ships and attended special events to boost the morale of men, women and children.

It started when Saanich resident Beatrice Woodward, Muggins’ caretaker, began fundraising in the early years of World War One. By the end of the war in 1918, Muggins had raised over $21,000 (equal to $320,000 today).

By 1917, Muggins was an international celebrity with postcards bearing his image sent around the world. He earned war service medals from several countries and fan mail from around the globe. When he died in 1920 he was stuffed.

And then, there is the story of Guess, who lived on Arundel Drive.

“Guess would go with Mom when she walked down Admirals to get the bus in the morning to go to work,” said Olive Gray, Saanich resident. “They would go as far as Brookman’s store on the corner of Gorge and Admirals Road. Guess would have a package (usually yeast) tied to her collar and would then go home to see Grandma. Mom would carry on to work.”

The exhibit also includes photos of the Saanich Police’s longstanding canine unit.

Saanich Police dogs Rex and Prince were the founding members of the Saanich Police Canine Unit in 1962. They retired from active service in 1969.

Today, the Canine Unit teams consist of Sgt. Steve Eassie and Max, Const. Matt Morin and Grimm, Const. Aaron Thompson and Asher, and Const. Ken Mead and Hitch.



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