The Little Dog Muggins


    Battalion Colours

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    Join date : 2009-11-26

    The Little Dog Muggins

    Post by Battalion Colours on Fri Nov 27, 2009 1:47 am

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    The following article was taken from the Canadian Red Cross web site ([You must be registered and logged in to see this link.] and Muggins raised over $6000.

    In Memory of Muggins

    Written by Bess Page, who currently resides in Metchosin and is the author of two books. This story recounts a World War I memory of local 94 year old Victoria resident, Jim Ferguson. This article originally appeared in the Victoria Times Colonist, Sunday, November 9th, 2003.

    I was just six years old in 1916 when my dad went off to war. He had tried to enlist in 1914 but at a height of 5 foot 6 inches the powers that be decided he was too short. But after two years of losing men in the carnage of trench warfare reinforcements were urgently needed so he was deemed tall enough to carry a rifle.

    Muggins canvassed the streets of Victoria for Red Cross donations during World War I.

    City of Victoria Archives -

    by Permission 97911-03-4799

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    He was part of the Bantam regiment, an infantry group of men who were of less than average height. Ironically their company commander was over 6 feet. My dad joked that being short was an advantage in the trenches. When he stood on the firing step the snipers couldn’t pick him off because not enough of his head was showing.
    The war didn’t mean much to me as a six year old. I just knew that my dad was wearing strange clothes and that he was going away for a long time. I knew, too that my mother was upset about him leaving. We went to see him off but my mother would not go to the wharf - we stood across the harbour and watched the soldiers marching onto the boat. It was just before Christmas and the band was playing Christmas music. But at home my sister and I were disappointed that there was to be no tree with the lit candles we loved.

    The memory that really stands out in my mind is of the little white Spitz dog named Muggins who was at the Red Cross Centre. Across from the present Bay Centre at Fort and Government which was know as the Five Sisters Block was a burned out area which had been made into a mock dugout to house the Victoria Red Cross. It was built of logs with mud around it to make it look like a trench. Once or twice a month my mother would take my sister and me to the Red Cross centre. We would take the number seven street car down Hillside, along Douglas and get off at Yates. From there we walked to the Red Cross dugout. Inside was a lady in a Red Cross uniform. My mother told us that our dad was living in a place like this overseas.

    That was where we spotted Muggins. He was the cutest little dog I’d ever seen. I did not have a dog of my own so to pet Muggins was the highlight of my day. But Muggins did not have time to chat with small boys. He had lot of work to do. On his sturdy little body he had two wooden boxes with slots on top and the Red Cross painted on the sides. His task was to travel around the downtown area collecting money for the Red Cross. Who could resist that little Sptiz with the imploring eyes? No, he wasn’t on a leash with a handler, he was on his own. Muggins knew his beat very well – up to Douglas, past Spencer’s and Woolworth's, down Yates around the block to View. He knew that when his boxes got heavy he was to return to his base where the cash was taken out and off he went again, this time perhaps on a different route.

    My sister and I watched Muggins come and go with envious eyes. We wished we could accompany him on his rounds. Perhaps we too could have little boxes strapped on our shoulders with the Red Cross sign painted on the. We plied our mother with questions – where does Muggins go at night? where does he sleep? what does he eat? could we please take him home for one night and bring him back the next day?

    My poor harassed mother had two lively pre-schoolers to care for plus a new baby at home born shortly after my dad’s departure. She had many other things to worry about then to think of a little Red Cross dog. From the Red Cross dugout we would go to the Times Building on Broad Street so that my mother could read the war news. People did not have radios so they crowed around the billboards outside the building to see what was happening overseas. The signs were often being changed to provide the latest news.

    My dad survived the kill gas of Ypres, the bloody battles of Passchendale and Vimy Ridge right up to the Hindenburg line. Just a couple of months before the war ended he received a slight shrapnel wound in his arm which kept him in hospital until after the Armistice was signed. He regretted not being in the triumphant march into Paris.

    We all went to the CPR docks to welcome him home in 1919. My dad leaving, his returning, the bad news of his wound are all a blur in my memory, but in my mind I still see a that little white dog Muggins, tail waving jauntily, going proudly on his rounds collecting money for the Red Cross.

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