Sunday, March 25, 2012


You might be surprised to know that the big goofy Lab on your bed wasn't always a welcome member of refined society. I know. Hard to believe. But in 1879, in his pleasant, chatty book about dogs as ladies' companions, Gordon Stables sniffed without apology, "The Retriever, a dog of uncertain lineage, useful to pick up dead or wounded game... is not a house dog for a city."

Here's a picture of a Retriever (front row) about a hundred years ago along with a few friendly fellows on the steps of any house USA. I'll bet none of these dog had couch privileges.
Mr. Stables would be shocked to find out that the Retriever is today's most popular house dog. Here's a picture of our favorite, Paige, enjoying the house. Like her bird dog brethren past and present, Paige is still "useful to pick up dead game," but she prefers it pre-cooked and lightly seasoned.

Quote above: Stables, G. (1879). Ladies dogs as companions: A chatty pleasant book with many stories humorous and pathetic painted from life with how to manage in health and disease. London: Dean and Son. You can find this rare book and thousands of others at the Chapin-Horowitz Dog Book special collection, Earl Gregg Swem Library, College of William & Mary.

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