Tales from the Pack: Bob's Dogs

Friday 24 August 2018

During the Commonwealth Trans-Antarctic Expedition in 1957 and 1958, Deputy Leader of the New Zealand party Bob Miller and his team of dogs sledged over 2,500 km.

Photograph of Bob's dog team in pulling a sledge

Bob Miller became very fond of the dog team that pulled his sledge more than 2,500 km. Image courtesy of Jan Fullarton. All Rights Reserved

Led by Sir Edmund Hillary, the expedition's New Zealand party laid supply depots for British explorer Sir Vivian Fuchs, who completed the first overland crossing of Antarctica.

Bob and his dog team identified and helped mark out suitable landing sites for planes carrying the party's fuel. When that was done, they surveyed outliers of the Queen Alexandra Range.

Bob was passionate about his dogs. They could do no wrong, especially Peanuts, his lead dog, whom he described as "A sleek silver grey boy. Very intelligent, but occasionally with ideas of his own.” There were nine dogs in his team, and of these Tepi was known for being a friendly and good worker while Andy often battled with the other dogs.

Bob Miller with dog Jan

Bob Miller with Jan. Image courtesy of Jan Fullarton. All Rights Reserved

Grateful for his team’s efforts, Bob brought Peanuts and Jan, whom he had named after his daughter, back to New Zealand in 1958. He gave Peanuts to family friends in Pahiatua while Jan went to Wellington Zoo. He tried to bring Tepi home a few years later, but concerns about introducing rabies to New Zealand prevented this.

Another one of Bob’s dogs was Moll, who was born at Aoraki/Mt Cook in 1956. She joined the team when she was a year old. Moll was the smallest member and sometimes needed special care. On the 2,500 km journey, she bit her paw to remove ice and made it bleed, requiring her to wear booties to protect her feet. Another part of the journey was so strenuous and exhausting that Bob put her on the sledge to give her a rest. Moll was later given as a pet to the staff at the American Antarctic base, Little America V.

Moll as a puppy

Moll, pictured here as a puppy, was the smallest member of Bob's team and needed some special care. Image courtesy of Jan Fullarton. All Rights Reserved

For his work with the Commonwealth Trans-Antarctic Expedition, Bob was awarded an OBE in 1958. In 1979, he was knighted as Sir Homes Miller for his services to Antarctic conservation and surveying.

Meet more canine characters like Peanuts, Jan and Moll in the Museum's upcoming exhibition Dogs in Antarctica: Tales from the Pack. Opens 21 September.

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