I am very fond of my dog Toby. Perhaps learning about him will help you understand me. Knowing about my family’s pets would give me a better understanding of my family history.

This is a picture of my mother-in-law Marjorie with her family’s dog at Castlemaine.

Marjorie with Pop’s dog

All my Irish ancestors had left Ireland before 1866 and so my own research does not benefit from  the Irish dog licence registers, which can be searched through FindMyPast.  The annual dog licence was first collected in 1866 in Ireland and on average there were 250,000 registrations a year.  If you have Irish forebears in the late nineteenth or early twentieth centuries, it could be worth looking whether they had any pets registered.

An example from the Irish dog licence records digitised by FindMyPast – an extract from records for Lowpark Court, County Mayo, 1882.

Closer to Ballarat, local dog licences for Ballan have been indexed for 1871, 1872 and 1873. A link to the indexes can be found at http://vipsinc.wordpress.com/projects/

Extract from the Ballan dog registrations compiled by Dorothy Wickham and Roy Huggins retrieved from http://vipsinc.wordpress.com/projects/

I found it fascinating to see the different breeds. Not a ‘Cavoodle’ or ‘Golden Retriever’ can be found.

Some dog licence records for Ballarat are still extant but they are yet to be indexed. Fortunately, though, they haven’t been thrown out and so one day some work can be done with the records. They are held by the City of Ballarat council.

You can see why this information would be useful for family historians. The receipt gives the surname, address and a description of the dog.

My dog Toby’s licence registration fee is due this month. The City of Ballarat have his name misspelt on the computer. I will have to fix the error. I can’t be sure though that in the future the computer records will be available for family historians to find.

Toby on the sofa

Toby was a rescue dog who joined our family in June 2009. These pictures are all from that month.  The last picture is Toby seeing the sea for the first time (we think he hadn’t seen the sea before).  He loves romping on the beach but discovered that he can’t drink seawater.

In this picture you can see his dog licence tag hanging from his collar.