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History Canada


The Life and Afterlife of a Canadian Canine War Hero

by (author) Grant Hayter-Menzies

foreword by Mark Zuehlke

Heritage House Publishing
Initial publish date
Oct 2021
Canada, World War I, General
  • Paperback / softback

    Publish Date
    Oct 2021
    List Price
  • eBook

    Publish Date
    Nov 2021
    List Price

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Where to buy it


The unusual and moving tale of Muggins, a famed fundraising dog who became a mascot of the Canadian Red Cross during the First World War.

Born in 1913 in the home of a millionaire philanthropist, Muggins was a purebred Spitz, a sharp-eared, sharp-nosed, fluffy-tailed sort of dog most often seen in the lap of a lady of leisure. But Muggins defied the odds, rising to unlikely fame during the First World War, when he became Victoria, BC’s most diminutive fundraiser. He was taught to wander through downtown during the war with two change donation boxes tied to his back, and ultimately collected the equivalent of $250,000 for charities and causes including the Red Cross, the Blue Cross, food for poor children and prisoners of war, victims of Jewish pogroms, to name a few.

During his short life, Muggins visited ferries and freight liners stopping in Victoria. He appeared in photos with the Prince of Wales and with famous Canadian general Sir Arthur Currie, among other celebrated admirers. He was also a favourite of the rank and file, helping cheer up wounded soldiers at Esquimalt Military Hospital. Muggins was made an honourary first lieutenant by the United States military for his service raising funds in Seattle. And he was so loved by departing soldiers he was more than once nearly taken along to the theatre of war.

Based on valuable documents, memorabilia, newspaper and newsreel accounts of Muggins's brief but brilliant career, this book tackles the difficult question of human use of animals in war, at home and on the battlefield. It explores how crucial animals, specifically dogs, have been to wounded veterans recovering from physical and emotional damage—both in Muggins's lifetime and now.

About the authors

Grant Hayter-Menzies is a biographer and historian specializing in the lives of extraordinary and unsung heroes of the past, notably the role of animals in times of war. He is the author of thirteen books, including Muggins: The Life and Afterlife of a Canadian Canine War Hero, Woo: The Monkey Who Inspired Emily Carr, Dorothy Brooke and the Fight to Save Cairo’s Lost War Horses, and From Stray Dog to World War One Hero: The Paris Terrier Who Joined the First Division. He is also literary executor of playwright William Luce. For more information, visit

Grant Hayter-Menzies' profile page

Hailed by Jack Granatstein as Canadas leading popular military historian and short-listed for both the 2007 and 2013 Pierre Berton Award for popularizing Canadian history, Mark Zuehlke is the author of 26 books, including 14 devoted to military history. Tragedy at Dieppe is the latest in his bestselling Canadian Battle Series, which includes Ortona, The Liri Valley, The Gothic Line, Juno Beach Operation Husky, Holding Juno, Breakout from Juno, Terrible Victory, and On to Victory. He is also the co-author of The Canadian Military Atlas.

Zuehlke first began writing about the role Canadians played in World War II after discussing the Battle of Ortona with several veterans following a Remembrance Day ceremony in Kelowna, B.C. Discovering no book had been written on this pivotal battle, he decided to fill that gap, which resulted in the publication of Ortona: Canadas Epic Worl

Mark Zuehlke's profile page

Editorial Reviews

"Muggins the dog is the star of this thoughtfully crafted book . . . The author's love of dogs shines through every page as he contemplates their complex relationship with humans." —BC History


"This book is about Muggins, a small white dog who played an inspiring role supporting the war effort during WWI. However, it is more than that. It is a snapshot of the people and the times on the home front. It also provides heartwarming insights into the nature of the human-canine bond. It is an example of fascinating historical detective work and great writing. A must-read for dog lovers and history buffs."

—Stanley Coren, author of The Intelligence of Dogs

“The true stories of animals whose training and loyalty earned them a supporting and sometimes deadly role in the terrors of war give us unique portals into history. Hayter-Menzies weaves an endearing account of the impact and appeal of a canine in the limelight, whose dogged loyalty throughout his short life made him a bona fide hero of the war effort on the home front.”
—Jacqueline Carmichael, author of Heard Amid the Guns: True Stories from the Western Front 1914–1918

"A fascinating account of the life of an important dog, Muggins—who worked the docks and streets of Victoria to raise funds for charity—and a poignant and thoughtful reflection on the role of dogs in wartime."
—Zazie Todd, PhD, author of Wag: The Science of Making Your Dog Happy

"Grant Menzies has done it again. In Muggins, he breathes bright and dazzling life back into a most magnificent little dog who last padded the earth a century ago. (And in a bizarre twist, “came to life” again during World War II.) Through his phenomenal research, and his beautiful prose, Menzies resurrects not only the beloved four-legged central character, but the whole era around the Great War. A fascinating read about the world during a devastatingly difficult time, and the dog who helped so many get through it. Enjoy it with a cup of tea by the hearth with your best friend at your side."
—Maria Goodavage, author of Doctor Dogs: How Our Best Friends Are Becoming Our Best Medicine and Secret Service Dogs: The Heroes Who Protect the President of the United States

Muggins is not only a colourful and touching love letter to the little white Spitz of Victoria but to all dogs who selflessly devote themselves to we humans, in wartime and in peace times. May we always rise to display the fine qualities our dogs believe us to have.”
—Susan Raby-Dunne, military historian, battlefield guide, and author of Bonfire: The Chestnut Gentleman

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