Paddy the Wanderer

After the death of his young mistress, Paddy the Wanderer became famous in history as the dog who roamed freely and traveled afar - some believe searching for the child he loved.

The Airedale terrier was given as a gift to a young girl named Elsie, daughter of a seaman. Elsie, her mother and the dog, believed to have been named Dash, would often go to the wharves in Wellington, New Zealand to greet her father's ship. In 1928, three year old Elsie died of pneumonia and in his grief, and despite attempts to make him a home dog, Dash took to roaming the wharves.

Elsie, her father and Paddy

The dog became well known in the community and soon began hopping on trams, getting into taxis and even boarding ships to go on journeys with the friends he made. Some say the dog, who soon became known as Paddy the Wanderer, went as far as San Francisco. However, wherever he went he always found his way back to Wellington. It was reported that Paddy had traveled "in every form of conveyance, public and private, except in an aeroplane and a submarine", so in 1935 he was taken on a plane ride - becoming the first dog in the country to fly.

The community would chip in to buy Paddy a collar and register him until 1935 when the Wellington Harbour Board took responsibility of him. Paddy was even given the title of Assistant Night Watchman in Charge of Pirates, Rodents and Smugglers.

In 1939, Paddy had fallen ill and was sent to a kennel to recuperate, which he did not like. One day, when a taxi driver came to visit him, the free spirited (and determined) dog jumped into his cab and refused to get out. The driver returned Paddy to the docks and made him a bed in one of the sheds. Shortly after, on July 17, he passed away.

Paddy's body was placed in a coffin with the words "Paddy the Wanderer - At Rest" and was transported to the crematorium in one of 12 black taxis that would form his procession. A traffic officer led the way, bringing downtown Wellington traffic to a standstill. "I'd give a month's pay to have Paddy back," said one of the mourners.

In 1945, a memorial to Paddy was unveiled on Queens Wharf in Wellington. The memorial, which consists of a brass plaque mounted above a drinking fountain (with two drinking bowls for dogs at ground level), was paid for by Paddy's many friends. Also, a life-size statue of Paddy the Wanderer stands in the Museum of Wellington City & Sea, a favorite among children and adults.

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