THERE was a time when the IW carried the nickname ‘isle of dogs.’

The origins of this are lost in time, but one old newspaper reported this was due to “dogs outnumbering people on the Island.”

A 1953 Frederick Warne English dictionary definition of ‘wight’ (with a small ‘w’) is ‘a creature; strong; nimble.’

Does this equate to a dog?

Many years ago, when the Island was predominantly agricultural, working dog numbers would have been far higher than today.

The IW Hunt hounds would also have outnumbered horseback riders.

Yet this still doesn’t account for the misnomer, which confused the IW with the Isle of Dogs area in east London.

This old postcard, oddly, has a cute Scottie image surrounded by Ryde scenes ­— a nod to the ‘isle of dogs’ nickname?

Today, there is no doubt that many IW residents are currently dog owners.

The County Press frequently includes endearing photos of pet dogs and reports of various dog breed gatherings.

A look back into yesteryear provides some particular Wight canine tales of the unexpected.

In 1950, a Welsh Springer Spaniel became an attraction.

He accompanied his owner, Capt E. Ireland, flying high above Lea airfield, which is now Sandown Airport.

According to Capt Ireland, “Rufus has more than 150 flying hours” sharing the cockpit with his master.

This may have been a good advertising ploy, for the IW Flying Club pilot drew crowds of onlookers when he put on several thrilling aerial displays during the summer season.

The newspaper asked, “Probably the first flying dog in England?”

Not so. Another pet pooch took to the skies years before.

Flt-Lt Francis Luxmoore, director and pilot of Portsmouth, Southsea and IW Aviation, (PSIOWA) pioneered dog ‘co-pilots’.

In 1928, he engineered an extra cockpit, in his privately owned light aircraft, for Reggis his terrier.

Luxmoore flew many scheduled PSIOWA passenger aeroplanes into Ryde airport, though on those flights, Reggis was not his co-pilot!

Another dog gained attention in Sandown in the1950s and 1960s.

A canny street photographer found a way to capitalise on a cinema Alsatian sensation.

The Adventures of Rin Tin Tin ran on American and British children’s television from 1953 to 1959.

The photographer set up his pitch near Sandown Zoo with Khan, whose pedigree went back to Rin Tin Tin.

Who are we to question Khan’s ancestry? I recall my late father did.

He was unwilling to pay for me to be snapped with Khan, otherwise know as Rin Tin Tin.

“Not the real Rinty,” he said.

The original dog star of Hollywood films died in the1930s.

Another ‘Rinty’ was used in the 1950s US TV shows.

Was Khan also a flying dog? Did he wing to the Wight from Tinsel Town?

It mattered not to summer tourists who happily paid and posed with the handsome ‘Wonder Dog.’

A Boxer outperformed them all in the 1960s.

He enjoyed his daily pint in a Ryde High Street pub.

His ‘party piece’ at the Prince of Wales was to arrive at lunch time with his master and sit down at the bar.

The man ordered a drink for himself and one for his dog.

The landlord served him, then took down from the shelf the Boxer’s own beer mug.

He half filled the glass. It was placed in front of the dog on the floor.

The animal looked at the glass, then looked up at his owner, and looked back at the glass again.

He made no attempt to lap at the ale.

This continued for several minutes ­— eyes up, eyes down again ­— to the amusement of customers.

Finally, his master’s voice ordered a tot of whiskey.

This was poured into the half glass of beer. The Boxer immediately began to sup up.

Tourists returned the next day to watch a repeat performance. Thus, the landlord pulled more pints.

The pub closed down years ago, though the Grade II listed building still stands.

Did it harm the dog? It wouldn’t be allowed today.

As is often said ­— “the past is a foreign country, they do things differently there”.

Were flying dogs a barking mad idea? Pet passports are commonplace now.

The trendsetters decades before, who had a bird’s eye of the world below, were Reggis and Rufus.