Today in Transportation History – 1939: Paddy the Wanderer Is Laid to Rest

After several years of being a popular fixture of the local transportation scene, a ginger-and-brown dog named Paddy passed away in New Zealand’s capital city of Wellington. “Friend of Sailors and Taxi Drivers,” proclaimed one of the headlines announcing his death in the next day’s edition of the Christchurch-based Press newspaper.

Paddy the Wanderer – or Dash – with original owners, seaman and his daughter Elsie.

Widely known as Paddy the Wanderer, the Airedale terrier had previously been named Dash and was the pet of a girl whose father was a seaman. Dash spent a great deal of time on Wellington’s wharves, accompanying the girl and others in her family whenever they went there to welcome back the father after his ships returned to port. When the girl died of pneumonia in 1928, Dash ran away from home and basically became a full-time resident of the city’s wharves.

Paddy, as he eventually became known, soon established himself as a local celebrity in that part of Wellington and especially endeared himself to many who worked there in various transportation-related jobs. Watersiders (those responsible for loading and unloading a ship’s cargo), seamen, taxi drivers, and other workers even took turns paying for Paddy’s dog license each year. The Wellington Harbour Board formally adopted Paddy, making him an assistant night watchman assigned to keep on the lookout for any smugglers, pirates, or rodents.

Paddy also served as a role model when it came to road safety. As the Press pointed out, “he knew the traffic lights, and would not cross a street until green showed.” The newspaper further reported, “For this reason, he was well known to Wellington traffic officers.”

Paddy had the opportunity to travel via several modes of transportation. He not only greeted sailors when they returned to Wellington Harbour but also frequently journeyed with them to ports in Australia and elsewhere in New Zealand, for example. In 1935, he was a passenger in a de Havilland “Gipsy Moth” biplane that took to the skies above New Zealand. Paddy also became a familiar presence on board Wellington’s trams (streetcars) and in area taxis.

“Ever since people can remember him, the wanderlust was strong in Paddy,” noted the Press in announcing his death. “By air, land, and sea, in the last 10 or 12 years, he traveled all around the New Zealand coast, and to many inland towns, and even further afield.” Wellington came to a standstill to mourn Paddy and, befitting his strong ties with transportation, the funeral procession included a dozen taxis. Paddy has since been immortalized on Wellington’s Queens Wharf with a memorial that features a bronze likeness of him.

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