A bit of capital city local history: today is the 75th anniversary of the death of a true Wellington identity – Paddy the Wanderer, a much-loved and well-travelled red Irish terrier and resident of Queen's Wharf who died on this day in 1939. Famously, the dog - who held the semi-official position of the wharf's Assistant Watchman - was held in such respect that a funeral cortege of 12 taxis led by a traffic officer on foot escorted his coffin. One of his best friends on the wharves was quoted as saying “I’d give a month’s pay to have Paddy back. I’ve had dogs but never one with the brains that Paddy had”.
In the Evening Post of 17 July 1939 – just seven weeks before the declaration of war - an article discussed his busy life and the affection in which he was held:
This red Irish terrier had thousands of friends among seamen, waterside workers, and taxi-men, and the funeral was no mock affair but a touching tribute to a good comrade [...] Ever since people can remember him the wanderlust was strong in Paddy. By air, land and sea, in the past ten or twelve years, he travelled all around the New Zealand coast and to many inland towns, and even further afield. He was one stowaway who was greeted cheerfully whenever he came aboard. He always came back to Wellington as his headquarters.
- 'Wanderer at rest', Evening Post, 17 July 1939
The same newspaper the following day carried the following additional information:
This morning a telephone communication was received from Mrs R. Gardiner, of Newman Terrace, who said that Paddy began his life in Wellington at her home, which was formerly in Adams Terrace. "He was given to my little daughter by Mr P.B. Mason, the horse trainer, of Christchurch," said Mrs Gardiner. "My daughter died eleven years ago and Paddy ran away".
- 'Paddy the Wanderer', Evening Post, 18 July 1939
I've searched the Christchurch phone directory for 1922 and newspaper articles from 1925 to 1928 for glimpses of Mr Mason, but there are no references to a Mason of those initials. (R.J. Mason was a very well-known trainer of the time, however).
Paddy’s memorial, built of stones from the bomb-damaged Waterloo Bridge and including drinking bowls for fellow dogs, can still be seen near the gates to Queen’s Wharf, and a statue of him can be found inside the Museum of City & Sea, in the building opposite.
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