Captain Kilkenny of ‘The Toronto Irish’, 1939


Thanks to Susan Henderson, Fergus, Ontario

When I read your request for stories in the Canadian Legion magazine I was happy. I have a story about an Irish Wolfhound. This photograph was published by the Star Weekly, Toronto, on October 28,  1939.                                                          

Before the war started, my father raised this and other Wolfhounds to show and breed. My dad was 17 years old in this picture. When my grandfather realized that he and his three sons were going to war, he sold and gave away his horses and his dogs.

Kenny was one of the nicest dogs he ever had. For my dad to be able to join the Regiment that Kenny was going on must have helped them both. Dad being only 17 years old, first time away from a very close family and Kenny now belonging in the army, the dog provided a familiar face.

Kenny was in his element with the soldiers. He never could decide who he’d have sleep by him. “My men felt so close to this dog it was decided to make him a Captain”, my grandpa said to me. And he got Captain’s pay.

One day the soldiers went on a very long march, from Montreal to Trois Rivieres on the way to the east coast. This kind of march was used as a recruiting drive. The dog wouldn’t stay at home base and he caught up to the marching troops. While marching, the dog walked at the head of the column. By the time the march was finished, Kenny was exhausted, the pads on his feet were worn down and became infected. He never recovered from that march and had to be put down. My dad said among the soldiers there was not a dry eye. Captain Kilkenny had a full military burial. He had been family to all those men in The Toronto Irish. I hope you can find a place in your project for this dog story.

Kenny in front

Kenny in front

PS. Barbara Skipper wrote to let Good Dogs Canada know that her husband joined up in Toronto in 1940. In 1942, after the men had trained at Camp Borden and were ready to be shipped overseas, they were sent by train to Montreal. There, she recalls, they disembarked and walked through Quebec to recruit others. Barbara remembers her husband talking about the Irish Wolfhound who led the march all the way and how when it was over, the pads on the dog’s paws were too raw to be rehabilitated. The commemoration to this special Canadian dog is one of the reasons I created Good Dogs Canada. Thank you, Barbara Skipper, for sending me your husband’s memory.

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