This morning I was walking along the waterfront to a meeting in Lambton Quay. Somehow, for the first time ever, I noticed a drinking fountain at the south end of the Wharf Offices. I must have walked past it hundreds of time before without ever seeing it.
At first glance I thought it was dedicated to Paddy the Weimaraner, but when I returned I stopped for photos and to actually read the inscriptions. A plaque beside the drinking fountain carried a long and beautiful story (excerpted below) about Paddy the Wanderer, a much-loved waterfront identity in the 1930s:
Paddy the Wanderer was a ginger and brown Airedale (terrier) dog who became a well known and much loved identity on the Wellington waterfront in the 1930’s. …
The full story was very touching. It was delightful to think of the watersiders and seafarers of the 30s taking care of this stray dog, the taxi drivers taking him for tours around town, the pilot who took him for a joyride in a biplane …
… He was cared for by watersiders and Harbour Board workers, seamen and local taxi drivers, who all took it in turn to pay his annual dog licence fee. The taxi drivers would often take him for rides around the city, and sometimes up country. Paddy also made voyages to some of New Zealand’s coastal ports, and to Australia.
… In 1935 he made a flight in a Gipsy Moth biplane, and apparently enjoyed the experience of flying in an open cockpit.
But the final part of Paddy’s story was the most moving:
… On July 17, 1939, Paddy died. Obituary notices were placed in the local papers to inform everyone of his death. A fleet of black taxis, led by a traffic officer, formed a funeral cortege to carry his coffin from Queen’s Wharf to the City Corporation yards for cremation.
And now there’s a memorial, more than 60 years old, to this endearing character. While Greyfriars Bobby is remembered for his devotion and loyalty to his master, this memorial is a tribute to the devotion and loyalty of a large group of people to ‘their’ dog.