Pelorus Jack – remembering World War I

This year marks the 100th anniversary of the start of World War I and commemorations are being held across the Globe.

It’s a fitting time to remember the animals that served during the conflict.

Pelorus Jack, a Bulldog, was the mascot of the HMS New Zealand.  In fact, there were two Pelorus Jacks because the first mascot was killed and subsequently replaced.

A model of Pelorus Jack with his collar and leads (photo courtesy of NZ History)

A model of Pelorus Jack with his collars and leads (photo courtesy of NZ History)

The first dog was a gift to the ship from a New Zealander living in England. He was named after the famous dolphin that accompanied ships traveling in the outer Marlborough Sounds between 1888 and 1912.  He was killed when he fell down the forward funnel of the ship and was officially ‘discharged dead’ from the Navy on 24 April 1916.

In his will he had requested that his successor be a ‘bull pup of honest parentage, clean habits, and moral tendencies’.

The second Pelorus Jack, also a bulldog,  was terrified of the noise of the ship’s guns.  He achieved the rank of leading sea dog before his final discharge in October 1919.   On his return to New Zealand, he was gifted to the City of Auckland along with his silver collar, a brass studded collar and leading reins.

The Auckland War Memorial Museum holds these items in its collection, along with the collar of Caesar the Anzac Dog.  Read my blog about Caesar here.  Another Pelorus Jack collar is kept in the Royal New Zealand Navy Museum in Devonport.

Kathleen Crisley, specialist in dog massage, rehabilitation and nutrition/food therapy, Canine Catering Ltd, Christchurch, New Zealand

Source:  New Zealand History

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