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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 !

Sunday, October 18, 2009

from 1883: thoughts on dogs

In 1883, Verson S. Morwood ("Lecturer to the Royal Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals") put together a volume of musings on the facts and phases of animal life, suitable for edifying the minds of the young.

The writing is appropriate to the time, carefully phrased and stilted, but honest and kindly for all that. This is how he ends his preface:

The writer may add, that while this volume may contain something to inform and
entertain the mind, his object has also been to show that, as animals are
members of the same creaturehood as ourselves, and in various ways contribute so
much to our pleasure, profit, and convenience, it is our duty to be humane to
them, as far as it may be in our power to be so, and to remember that 'Sweet
mercy is nobility's true badge,' and that it confers real dignity upon those who
wear it.
That's so Late Victorian, isn't it? The chapter titles are nothing short of marvellous. Though I was sorely tempted by entries such as "Story of a Living Bee-Dress," "Song of the Fly," "Alleged Vices of Birds," and "Rats Unpopular, and said to be Useless," I headed for his thoughts on dogs. Here is a bit of that. Enjoy.

* * *
The Pug Dog.
The true English pug is small, of a sandy colour, with dark muzzle, and a curly tail. Although he is not the most attractive looking of our pet dogs, and has been often called a sort of miniature bulldog, he is cleanly in his habits, very sensible, and affectionate.

The Poodle Dog.
This dog possesses a good temper, and is very docile. His imitative pow.ers are considerable, and his capabilities of education are superior to those of many dogs. He can be taught not only to perform a number of different tricks singly, but to take his part in a stage performance with many other dogs. He belongs to the spaniel family: has white curly hair, which is frequently taken from every part of his body, excepting the head, neck, feet, and the end of the tail, which gives the dog a grotesque appearance.

The Pointer.
There are few dogs more valued by their owners than the pointer. To those who are fond of shooting game this animal is an indispensable companion, because, having such an acute scent, it easily discovers where the game lies, and which it indicates first by stopping and then by moving forward as silently as possible. These cautious movements on the part of the dog suggest to his master to be ready for a shot when the game rises. Should he bring down a bird the dog will appear to be well pleased. Instances, however, have been known of pointers leaving the field in disgust if, after a few shots, their masters have failed to bring down the game, and no persuasion subsequently would ever induce these mortified pointers to accompany such bad shots again.
* * *

-- from Verson S. Morwood, Facts and Phases of Animal Life (New York: D. Appleton and Company, 1883) pages 203-04.


magadogz said...

A joy, Andrée. So poodles all start off white? A little RIT dye, and you get other colors.

curator said...

Especially around Easter and Fourth of July. ;-)