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Missing Taxidermy Mount of Famous Canadian Dog Rediscovered

The taxidermy mount of a famous dog in Victoria, Canada, has been rediscovered after it went missing nearly seven decades ago, CBC News reports. 

According to the news outlet, the white Spitz named Muggins helped raise funds for the Canadian Red Cross to assist troops during the First World War. Muggins would wander around British Columbia’s capital with two donation boxes attached to his back. After multiple rounds of fundraising, the devoted, well-trained dog would then deliver the full donation boxes to his owner.

Muggins reportedly raised around $330,000 for the Red Cross before his demise. He passed away in 1920 when he was seven years old.

To memorialize him, his body was preserved through taxidermy. This preservation method involved skillfully skinning a deceased animal and preserving the skin. Thereafter, the skin is mounted onto a sturdy structure to create a replica of the animal in its living form. 

Muggins’ one-foot-tall taxidermy mount was still used to facilitate fundraising for the Second World War troopers. 

“We found at least three other dogs in Victoria that were used [for donations] in the First World War, [and] Second World War,” Paul Jenkins, a volunteer historian for the B.C.–Yukon Red Cross History Project, said. “But Muggins by far was the lead in that field.”

Then, in 1955, the mount disappeared from the public eye. 

Miraculous rediscovery of missing taxidermy mount

According to Jenkins, Muggins’ mount had been stationed at Victoria’s Army Navy Veterans Club building before its disappearance. The historian believes it went missing when the building was undergoing renovations. 

Surprisingly, they rediscovered it in late 2023 at a home shed owned by a couple in Victoria. 

Jo-Anne Gallagher and her husband, Paul Sommerard, didn’t know the mount given to them by a friend in 2018 had that much historical significance until they saw it in the news one day. 

“It was around Remembrance Day — there was a story on there about Muggins,” Gallagher said. “I said to Phil, ‘That looks like the dog we have in the shed,’ and so we checked it out.”

Turns out, they were right.

According to the couple, their friend, Dave Citra, gave them the mount after clearing out his attic. Citra’s parents both worked near the Army Navy Veterans Club building. Perhaps, this explains how the mount ended up in Citra’s possession. 

Although they found it in a dilapidated condition, Jenkins and the entire Red Cross community couldn’t hide their joy over the mount’s miraculous rediscovery. That said, a taxidermist went to work on it to at least restore it to its former glory.

Plans to have Muggins’ mount permanently displayed at the Costume Museum — found in the B.C. lieutenant governor’s official residence — are underway.

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