Remembering Paddy the Wanderer

Tales of a unique dog

BY CHRISTOPHER MOOR - THE WELLINGTONIAN
Last updated 05:00 30/07/2009
Paddy the Wanderer
Museum of Wellington City & Sea
HONOURING PADDY: Senior animal control officer Vicki Harwood affixes the 2009 registration tag to the Museum of Wellington City & Sea's lifesize statue of Paddy the Wanderer.

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Seventy years ago, friends of Paddy the Wanderer and hundreds of grieving Wellingtonians watched as a traffic officer led the funeral cortege of 12 black taxis escorting the ginger and brown Airedale terrier's coffin to the city crematorium.

"I'd give a month's pay to have Paddy back," said one of the mourners. "I've had dogs, but never one with the brains Paddy had."

Paddy was the stray who in the 1930s captured Wellingtonians' hearts, particularly watersiders, seamen and taxi drivers, with whom he shared his travels and adventures. He was awarded the freedom of the city in 1935.

His life is remembered by the drinking fountain on Queens Wharf, opposite the Museum of Wellington City & Sea. Erected in 1945, the memorial was paid for by Paddy's many friends and includes stones from London's Waterloo Bridge, bombed during World War II.

A brass plaque, considered a good likeness of Paddy, is mounted above the drinking fountain, with two drinking bowls for dogs at ground level.

A lifesize statue of Paddy stands on level one in the Museum of Wellington City & Sea. Each year, as near to the anniversary of his death (July 17, 1939) as possible, the museum renews the registration of its Paddy with a Wellington City Council animal control officer in attendance for the ceremony. This is part of the museum's ongoing commitment to keep Paddy's memory alive.

During the year, children can have Paddy-inspired birthday parties at the museum. They feature a personal appearance from him. Anyone unable to attend can always give Paddy's statue a friendly pat. They may also receive an appreciative bark, generated by an overhead sensor.

In 2007 Wellington honoured Paddy with a second parade. The occasion marked the launch of Paddy the Wanderer, the biography by Dianne Haworth.

Paddy spent his adolescence as the beloved pet of Elsie Glasgow, with whom he went to the wharves when she and her mother met the ships bringing Elsie's father home. His three-and-a-half-year-old mistress died from pneumonia in 1928 and in his grief Paddy took to roaming the wharves, never belonging to another again, despite attempts to resettle him at his original home and with others.

He stowed away to Australia, sailed around the New Zealand coast, rode the Wellington trams, and enjoyed being the first dog in the country to fly in an aeroplane.

Paddy was known by the honorary title of assistant watchman during his later years. When his health began to deteriorate, he spent much of his time sitting in his favourite place, the tally clerk's office or standing on Queens Wharf, where friends from all over the city visited him.

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