Wednesday, 10 September 2014

The History Perspective: Dog Care

Sage advice from a dog book about treating a sick animal:
"A change of air and diet will sometimes renovate when all remedies fail: a change from city to country, from greasy meat to fresh milk, from a confined yard to the green fields, will generally revive him without the aid of medicine."

Q: From which decade does this advice originate?
a)    The 1960s
b)    The 1860s
c)    The 1760s

To help you make up your mind let's take a look at some further advice. This time about inadvertent harm done to lapdogs by coddling them too much.

"Nursing in the lap is injurious; not of itself, but the animal is thereby subjected to constant chills, in emerging from a snoozy warmth to a cold carpet or chilly bed. A dog accustomed to the lap is always shivering after it."
This lapdog may be in danger of chilling 
Sounds like common sense, if a little extreme. What the author is saying is that pet dogs are done a disservice when treated like toys rather than dogs. A valid argument. Some more common sense along the same lines…

"The tenderly-nursed pet is affected by every change of atmosphere, and subjected to a variety of diseases unknown to the dog that has been hardened since his birth. I ask you, then, neither to stuff nor starve; neither to chill nor burn."

I for one, agree with that. But perhaps the next statement is more controversial, especial amongst owners of dogs that are "faddy" eaters.
Oh dear, another lapdog in danger
"Lack of appetite, so common to pampered favourites, is generally the result of an overloaded stomach and disordered digestion. This is easily cured by medicine, but more safely and simply without it. Fast him for twenty-four hours; after which , keep him on half his ordinary allowance. If this agrees with him, and he keeps in fair condition, continue the regimen."

That said, the author isn't totally oblivious to the fact that some small dogs are more delicate than others – especially when it comes to bathing.

"Great care should be taken in the washing of delicate dogs. When this operation is performed, they should be rubbed perfectly dry; after which they should be covered, and remain so till the shivering has completely subsided."
Cover the dog until shivering subsides
Have you guessed the decade yet?
To give you a helping hand, let's look at some of the other events that took place the year this book was published.
-       Charing Cross railway station, London, opened for the first time
-       Overarm bowling was ruled as legal in the game of cricket
-       On the 11th and 12th of March the Great Flood of Sheffield took place, with loss of life
And these final clues are a bit of a give away
-       The serialization of Charles Dickens' "Our Mutual Friend" began
-       Lord Palmerston was the British Prime Minister and Queen Victoria was on the throne.
An illustration from Edward Jesse's
"Anecdotes of dogs"

Yes! You guessed it, the correct answer is (b) the 1860s – or 1864 to be precise.
In 1864 Edward Jesse's popular book "Anecdotes of Dogs" was published – and I'm pleased to say it is still available (as an eBook) a century and a half later – although he views are perhaps a little outdated, the book is still a joy to read. 

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