Category: Animals – Dogs

Charles Dickens and Timber Doodle, the Flea-Ridden Dog

Dog of the Havana Breed by Jean Jacques Bachelier, (1724–1806).(Bowes Museum)
Dog of the Havana Breed by Jean Jacques Bachelier, (1724–1806).
(Bowes Museum)

In the mid-nineteenth century, Charles Dickens had a small, shaggy Havana spaniel named Timber Doodle. Dickens had acquired Timber during a visit to America and the little dog soon became his constant companion, even accompanying him on his travels. It was during one of these foreign excursions that Timber suffered from a very severe infestation of fleas. The solution was extreme. As Dickens relates in an 1844 letter:[…]Continue Reading

The Dog on the Train: A Victorian Fox Terrier at King's Cross Station

My Best Friend by Robert Douglas Fry, (1872–1911).
My Best Friend by Robert Douglas Fry, (1872–1911).

An 1879 edition of the Huddersfield Chronicle reports the story of a little fox terrier named Wasp and his owner who, at the time, was a student at a college in London.  Wasp was devoted to his master and would follow him wherever he went—including on the train to school each morning.  While his master attended classes, Wasp would remain in the courtyard of the college, dozing in a patch of sun and “to all appearances asleep.”  Despite appearances, however, Wasp was always watching anxiously for his master’s return and those passing through the courtyard would often observe “one watchful eye unclose gently to spy if his master were soon coming.”[…]Continue Reading

Canine Haute Couture: The Paris Salon of the Celebrated Monsieur Vivier

“A dog is more difficult to dress than a lady, however capricious she may be.”
M. Vivier, Pearson’s Magazine, 1898.

The Actress Rejane And Her Dog by Giovanni Boldini, 1885.

Wealthy and aristocratic ladies of the 1890s who desired to dress their dogs in the latest styles travelled from far and wide to visit the Paris salon of fashionable canine tailor Monsieur Vivier.  Located in the Galerie d’Orleans at the Palais Royal, Vivier’s establishment welcomed dog owners from all over the world.  He was famous for his canine haute couture.  So famous that some compared Vivier to legendary fashion designer Charles Frederick Worth—a fact which Vivier proudly acknowledges in an 1898 interview in Pearson’s Magazine, calling himself “the Worth of Dogs.”[…]Continue Reading

The Dogs’ Toilet Club: Bond Street Luxury for Victorian Canines

“The fact is, mere ordinary folk have not the remotest notion of the extravagant extent to which canine pets are pampered nowadays by their highly-placed mistresses.”
The Strand Magazine, 1896.

Portrait of a Maltese dog by Anonymous British Painter, 19th Century.
Portrait of a Maltese dog by Anonymous British Painter, 19th Century.

In 1896, an enterprising young lady named Mrs. Nugent opened a fashionable club for dogs at 120 New Bond Street in London.  It was called the Dogs’ Toilet Club and offered many services for the pampered pets of the wealthy and well to do, including grooming, pet sitting, veterinary care, and dentistry.  For those who wished to dress their dogs in the latest fashions, there was even a dogs’ tailoress who worked tirelessly to produce the finest in 19th century canine couture. […]Continue Reading

Canines and Crinolines: Victorian Dogs Captured by Fashion

Portrait of Princess Dagmar of Denmark with her Dog, 1860s.
Portrait of Princess Dagmar of Denmark with her Dog, 1860s.

In January of 1865, a young charwoman appeared at the Lambeth Police Court in London seeking assistance from the magistrate after having been attacked by her employer’s favorite dog.  A January 7th edition of the Kentish Independent reports that her employer’s name was Miss Mary Baker, “a maiden lady of over 70 years of age.”  Two years prior, Miss Baker had inherited a substantial fortune, the bulk of which she now expended on “feeding and keeping” a large pack of dogs inside of her house.  As the article relates:[…]Continue Reading