He was a fluffy fundraising force. Muggins, the pure-breed Spitz, raised record amounts for the war effort.
“We’ve found three other dogs in Victoria who raised money for the First and Second World War, but Muggins far surpassed any others,” said Paul Jenkins, a BC Yukon Red Cross History volunteer.
The good boy became a Vancouver Island icon during the First World War. He spent his hours loading up his Red Cross tins outside the legislature before going solo.
“He’d often go by himself, do the rounds, then when his tins were filled, he’d come back,” said Jenkins, whose been digging into Muggins since 2014.
Muggins’ persistence earned him fame well beyond Victoria, meeting the Prince of Wales, General Currie, who commanded Canada’s troops, and when it came time to celebrate the end of the war, he even had his own float.
He was so beloved that when he died in 1920, he was taxidermized and then used for fundraising in the Second World War.
But in the 1950s Muggins disappeared.
“We thought he’d naturally deteriorated and eventually been disposed of,” said Jenkins.
CHEK News covered Muggins’ legacy in 2021. Jo-Ann Gallagher was watching from her View Royal home.
“I said to Phil that looks like the dog we have in the shed!” said Jo-Ann, who then called Jenkins, whom she saw in CHEK’s story.
“I sort of thought that’s not possible. I went over to her house right away, and there’s not a doubt in my mind…We’re 100 percent sure that is Muggins,” said Jenkins, who says the original taxidermy stamps were on the bottom of Muggin’s stand.
How Muggins ended up in their shed is a bit of a mystery.
Jenkins believes that many decades ago, when the Army and Navy Veterns’ building (Now Nautical Nellies) was being renovated, Muggins was given away. The dog ended up in a local couple’s attic. They passed, and when their son decided to sell the home, he found the dusty dog in the attic.
Not sure what to do with it, he called Gallager and her partner Phil Sommerard.
“He was in rough shape. He was brown, and his ears were pretty ratty,” said Sommerard.
Now returned and restored, Muggins, the symbol of wartime community generosity and sacrifice, gets to keep telling his story.
“I’m really glad we were able to bring him back to life, so to speak,” said Gallagher.
“Yeah, it’s not every day we get to rescue a 105-year-old dog,” said Sommerard, laughing.
Plans are now in the works for Muggins’ future, which may include a visit to a local museum. Another unforeseen chapter in Muggins’ story, many thought was over.
A previous version of this article read the Bay Street Armoury instead of Army and Navy Veterans building. CHEK News regrets the error.