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Washington, United States
loves: you win if you guessed "pets" and "museums". Also books, art history, travel, British punk, Korean kimchi, bindis, martinis, and other things TBD. I will always make it very clear if a post is sponsored in any way. Drop me a line at thepetmuseum AT gmail.com !

Tuesday, September 11, 2018

mrs custer and the dogs

Elizabeth Custer (1842-1933), the wife of George Armstrong Custer, had been raised in comfort and privilege as a judge's daughter.  Even so, she readily followed her husband wherever he went on his military career despite the discomforts of travel.  After Custer's death, "Libbie" Custer devoted her energies to his image, publishing popular books on his life and the adventures she had shared with him. From her first, Boots and Saddles (1885), here's a passage about camping on the plains and how the family dogs found the comfiest digs:
While we were all getting accustomed to the new climate, it was of no use to try to keep the dogs out of my tent. They stood around, and eyed me with such reproachful looks if I attempted to tie up the entrance to the tent and leave them out. If it were very cold when I returned from the dining-tent, I found dogs under and on the camp-bed, and so thickly scattered over the floor that I had to step carefully over them to avoid hurting feet or tails. If I secured a place in the bed I was fortunate. Sometimes, when it had rained, and all of them were wet, I rebelled. The steam from their shaggy coats was stifling; but the general begged so hard for them that I taught myself to endure the air at last. I never questioned the right of the half-grown puppies to everything. Our struggles to raise them, and to avoid the distemper which goes so much harder with blooded than with cur dogs, endeared them to us. When I let the little ones in, it was really comical to hear my husband’s arguments and cunningly-devised reasons why the older dogs should follow. A plea was put up for “the hound that had fits;” there was always another that “had been hurt in hunting;” and so on until the tent would hold no more. Fortunately, in pleasant weather, I was let off with only the ill or injured ones for perpetual companions. We were so surrounded with dogs when they were resting after the march, and they slept so soundly from fatigue, that it was difficult to walk about without stepping on them.
-- Custer, Elizabeth Bacon, 1842-1933. "Boots And Saddles": Or, Life In Dakota With General Custer. New York: Harper & brothers, 1885. p. 57.

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