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October 1966

Paul McCartney acquires an Old English Sheepdog

Last updated on October 2, 2023


  • Location: High Wycombe, Buckinghamshire, UK


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In October 1966, Paul McCartney acquired an Old English Sheepdog and named her Martha.

Martha inspired him to write the song “Martha My Dear,” which was released on the Beatles’ White Album in 1968.

Martha stayed with Paul and his family for 15 years, until her death in 1981 at Paul’s Scottish farm near Mull of Kintyre.

Paul has owned several other Old English Sheepdogs since then. Martha’s puppy Arrow was featured on the cover of Paul’s 1993 album “Paul Is Live.”

Martha was my first-ever pet. I never had a dog or a cat at home. My parents both went out to work, which was why we couldn’t have any, even when one terrible day they were giving away free puppies! Just a hundred yards away from where we lived. We came screaming home, my brother and I, “They’re giving ’em away! We can get one if you tell us now, we can go and get one, we’ve chosen the one we want!’ They said, ‘You can’t have one, son. Me and your mum go out to work and it wouldn’t be fair on a dog.’ ‘We’ll look after it, we’ll do it.’ ‘You’re at school.’ ‘Well, we’ll come back at lunchtime. Surely?’ ‘No, no, no.’ Crying crying crying. We just couldn’t understand because they were free! We could understand not buying one because we weren’t that well off, but passing up a freebie puppy! He was quite firm about stuff like that and I suppose he was right.

Paul McCartney – From “Paul McCartney: Many Years from Now” by Barry Miles, 1997

She was a dear pet of mine. I remember John being amazed to see me being so loving to an animal. He said, “I’ve never seen you like that before.” I’ve since thought, you know, he wouldn’t have. It’s only when you’re cuddling around with a dog that you’re in that mode, and she was a very cuddly dog.

Paul McCartney – From “Paul McCartney: Many Years from Now” by Barry Miles, 1997

From Daily Mail Online, November 11, 2017:

[Paul McCartney] had decided to fulfil his dream of owning a dog and contacted breeder Ann Davis.

Sir Paul, who was then dating Jane Asher, turned up in his Aston Martin DB6 at her home, where he posed with her sheepdog Cuddles before driving back to London with his new puppy, priced at ten guineas.

A few weeks later, the breeder received a telephone call asking if she could look after the pup while the Fab Four were travelling abroad.

The great-grandmother said yesterday: ‘He was very attached to the puppy and he didn’t want to leave it with his housekeeper.’

But when the dog arrived at her home in High Wycombe, Buckinghamshire, she was in for a shock when she was told what the star had called it.

Paul being Paul had decided to call the dog “Knickers”,’ the 84-year-old – now Mrs Arch after remarrying – said.

The name is thought to have been coined after the pup had an accident on Sir Paul’s lap. She added: ‘I told him that if I was going to look after her, I wasn’t standing at the back door shouting out “Knickers!” – so I called her Nicky.’

After keeping the pup for a month, she was returned to London, where Miss Asher had been ‘disgusted’ by the choice of name. […]

Now in retirement, Mrs Arch cherishes her meeting with the pop icon.

She said: ‘He was so down-to-earth, so approachable. They were one of the new pop groups who were really big in the Sixties, but I was busy with raising a family in those days. My son said, “What’s that car?” when he saw the Aston Martin parked outside, and Paul just threw him the keys and said, “Go and have a play with it!” – but I didn’t let him, he was only a little boy.’

Her son Bill, now 62, recalled: ‘It was an unforgettable day – for a young lad, an Aston Martin was quite exciting. Paul McCartney was the icing on the cake.’

From Daily Mail Online, November 11, 2017

Photo by Bruce Adams – Paul McCartney pictured with his puppy and Ann Arch’s sheepdog ‘Cuddles’ in the mid 1960’s at her home in High Wycombe – From Paul McCartney wrote about puppy in song Martha My Dear | Daily Mail Online

PAUL McCARTNEY has bought an Old English Sheepdog puppy and named her MARTHA. “Everybody says: ‘Oh yeah—and the Vandellas. but I didn’t mean that,” Paul told Disc and Music Echo this week.

From Disc And Music Echo – October 8, 1966
From Disc And Music Echo – October 8, 1966


Mike McCartney has given his famous brother lots of small “Alice in Wonderland” figures for his garden. Paul has dotted them all over the place and they certainly give it a very unusual atmosphere. Incidentally, Paul also has a sheepdog puppy, which he calls Martha. It’s coat is black and white and it’s got no tail.

From The Beatles Monthly Book – November 1966
From The Beatles Monthly Book – November 1966

Paul, Jane Asher and Martha
Martha in 1968. From The “Mad Day Out” photo session
Martha & Paul – Regent’s Park, London, 1968. Photo by Linda Eastman
Martha in 1971. From Paul McCartney starts thinking about a new band
Martha in 1976

Going further

The Beatles Diary Volume 1: The Beatles Years

"With greatly expanded text, this is the most revealing and frank personal 30-year chronicle of the group ever written. Insider Barry Miles covers the Beatles story from childhood to the break-up of the group."

We owe a lot to Barry Miles for the creation of those pages, but you really have to buy this book to get all the details - a day to day chronology of what happened to the four Beatles during the Beatles years!

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