Tuesday, September 25, 2012

National Guide Dog Month

September is National Guide Dog Month.
So I thought it might be nice to post some historic images.  If you're interested in a more detailed history, use the links at the end of the post.

The first guide dog school was established in Germany during World War I to provide mobility for blind  German soldiers.  Although people think of German Shepherds as the first guide dogs, the photo below tells a different story.  I think it's a German Pinscher.  
Typewritten note attached to the back of the above photo:  "German veteran Willy Reinstein Leipzig. The first blind man trained with a guide dog in the world in 1916.  In France.  Captain L. A. Kreimer standing in back."

If you recognize what breed Rolf might be, please post a comment.

German Shepherds were used as guide dogs soon afterwards.  In the photo below, all 15 guide dogs with blind German veterans are German Shepherds. The type written label says: "Blind veterans in 1920 from World War I in the German government Training School for Guide Dogs in Oldenburg.  The first class trained by Captain L. A. Kreimer, founder and head of the German Government [sic] from 1919 to 1929.   14 blind World War Veterans, 1 blind nurse, and 15 trainers standing [in] back, also Captain L. A. Kreimer."
Here is a close up showing some of the teams.

Morris Frank (below) was the first American to receive a guide dog, a female German Shepherd named Buddy.
Photo: Tennessee State Library and Archives

 The team was trained in Switzerland by American Dorothy Eustice, pictured below. Soon after, Frank and Eustice returned home and worked to establish the first U. S. guide dog school, The Seeing Eye, incorporated in January, 1929.

To learn more about guide dogs, you can read an article I wrote for Bark Magazine, "The Making of a Guide Dog," or go to the home page of any of these guide dog schools.

Sunday, September 23, 2012

Dogs on a Train: 1912 Vintage Photo

My favorite pastime is browsing through vintage photos of dogs.     One of my digital haunts is the Library of Congress.  I came across this photo titled,  "Man and dogs on a rail cart trip from Shelton to Nome, Alaska."

I expected to see dogs pulling something. Instead it features a bunch of happy dogs piled on a rail cart  heading towards Nome. Notice the writing on the photo: "Coasting on a dogmobile trip, from Shelton to Nome, Alaska, July 28, 1912."

When I enlarged the picture, I saw that all of the canine riders are typical husky-type sled dogs, with the exception of an English Setter on the seat. Setters were often used as lead dogs.  That's probably a driver and his dog team, with his lead dog on the seat next to him.

I guess I shouldn't be surprised. How else would you get from Shelton to Nome in July if there weren't any snow?

Thursday, September 20, 2012

What is the global dog population?

How many dogs in the world?  
Well, it depends.  After checking five sources, I'm fairly confident there are 900 million to a billion.
  • 300 million companion dogs
  • 600 million stray and free-ranging dogs
Companion Dogs
Based on a survey of 68 countries by the World Society for the Protection of Animals (WSPA) the top ten countries with most pet dogs:

This means that two thirds (201,684,000) of the total companion dog population lives in just ten countries:
  • USA    67,085,000
  • Brazil  30,335,000
  • China  26,800,000
  • Mexico 17,500,000
  • Japan    13,179,000
  • Russia  12,325,000
  • United Kingdom  10,500,000
  • France  8,360,000
  • Indonesia  8,000,000
  • Italy  7,600,000
In comparison, the countries below have lots fewer pet dogs:
  • Egypt  71,000
  • Lebanon  50,000
  • Saudi Arabia 32,000
  • United Arab Emirates 10,000
  • Kuwait  7,000
Stray and Free Ranging Dogs 
The population of un-owned dogs is difficult to determine.  The World Health Organization estimates 200 million stray dogs populate the planet. The WSPA states it's closer to 500 million.

Bali alone has more than half a million stray dogs. India has 30 million.  Sierra Leone has one of the highest population densities of stray dogs in Africa, about 100,000.

Cities with high stray dog populations:
  • Baghdad 1 million
  • Mexico City 1 million
  • Bangkok 300,000
  • Bucharest 200,000
  • Detroit (Yes, Detroit) 50,000
  • Moscow 35,000
  • Belgrade 17,000

WSPA says stray and free ranging dogs make up approximately 75% of the world wide dog population. If that's accurate, and I think it is,  based on 300 million pet dogs, that would put the world dog population at close to a billion.  

To get more information go to the National Council On Pet Population.

The Found Animals Foundation is funding scientists who are working to develop a low cost, single dose, non-surgical sterilant for dogs.

Sunday, September 16, 2012

Vintage Photos: Family Dogs and Family Cars

When I started collecting vintage photos of people with their dogs more than 30 years ago, it seemed like I was the only collector.  Since then, lots of books have been published, most featuring formal photos like cabinet cards and studio set-up portraits.  My collection is mostly snapshots, informal photographs taken quickly usually with a small camera. Here are four photos featuring the dog and the family car.

A depression era family after a good day fishing.  Dad and the dog are in the car.
If you look closely you can see that the dog is in a hand-made side car next to the driver's door.  And a very happy dog he is.

Six kids and the family dog.  
Close up: Too cute for words.

We've got puppies! Mom's in the center, and four pups are distributed elsewhere, one sliding down the front fender.

Doggone good car.

If you want to use my photos, be nice and credit my blog http://doctorbarkman.blogspot.com/

Wednesday, September 12, 2012

German Shepherd History in Vintage Photos

Established in Germany in 1899 as a medium sized herding breed, and discovered by the rest of the world around 1914, the German Shepherd is now a larger dog with all around working skills.

Below - the breed in 1907, shortly after its German debut (Robert Leighton's The New Book of the Dog). Note caption below the photo says, "Typical German Sheepdogs."
I make a point of not commenting on historical aspects of dog breeding on my blog.  By using photos showing dogs then and now, readers can draw their own conclusions. The vintage photos I've selected show how much the German Shepherd has changed in the last hundred years.

The Shepherd below was a contestant in a dog show, probably about 1910.
Library of Congress

This photo was taken in the US, around 1915.
Library of Congress

The date, 1927, is penciled on the back of this photo.  I think it's a Shepherd.

From my collection, the photo of the tres chic woman and dog was taken around 1935.

Rin Tin Tin, around 1945. This is about the time the breed began to get bigger and heavier.

The breed in the mid 1950s.

Then in the mid 1960s.

This is what German Shepherds bred for show look like today.  The structure of the dog, in particular the long sloping back and the diseases related to the trait, are topics of great debate among breeders.

Source: Wikipedia

In recent years some breeders have restored their Shepherd lines, so that the back is more like a table-top, similar to the dog in the 1915 picture below.
Source: Library of Congress

See how other breed have changed in the last century. Click on the breed name.

Rat Terrier

Boston Terrier

Bully Dogs





Other Breeds

Saturday, September 8, 2012

Dog Food Recipes

Dog Food Recipes from the 1784 edition of The Sportsman's Dictionary

I seem to be stuck on dog food.  So I'll make this post short.

In the 18th century, dog food recipes were job specific, and sometimes even breed specific.  This one was recommended for trail scenting hounds. 

"In regard to food, carrion is by no means proper for them.  It must hurt their sense of smelling, on which the excellence of the dog greatly depends."
barley meal
wheat flour
grease tallow
sheep's feet
Mix together and make a broth.  Bake well or boil.

Gun dogs, like setters and pointers, might enjoy a breakfast of home made hard biscuit meal with minced breast of mutton.  Dinner could be biscuit meal soaked with bullock's heart soup.

What was good for the gun dog was not good for the greyhound. Greyhound supper:
crust of bread
soft bone
Scald in beef, mutton, veal or venison broth.  When it is cool, float all of it in good milk.

My dogs would approve.

Thursday, September 6, 2012

Commercial Dog Food: A Brief History

In less plentiful times, most dogs scavenged food or ate what people discarded, supplementing their diets with hunting forays and garbage raids.  In better times, dog food was a concoction of leftovers, usually baked in loaves and sliced up at dinner time.

Commercial dog food was the 1860 invention of American James Spratt who devised a novelty dog food biscuit, Spratt's Patent Meal Fibrine Dog Cakes.  He marketed to upper class British and European sporting dog fanciers.  Spratt mixed several ingredients in a batter that he baked and cut into cubes.

Charles Cruft who eventually went on to produce dog shows, began his career as a shop boy and then a traveling salesman for Spratts.

William H. Danforth founded the Purina Company in 1902.  He made and distributed commercial dog food in the U.S. on a large scale.  Danforth industrialized the process and compressed the cereal through an extruder in the shape of small pellets that he called and trademarked Checkers.  Purina Dog Chow Checkers was sold through Purina dealers beginning in 1926.

In 1929, Albert Brothers Milling Company cooked up a dog food they called Friskies.  It was first promoted in Alaska for sled dogs.

Sled dogs were getting a lot of press at the time, as pioneering aviator and polar explorer Admiral Richard Byrd led expeditions to the North and South Poles.

But dog food sales plummeted at the onset of the depression and Checkers and Friskies sat on the shelf. Most people couldn't afford to buy commercial dog food at any price.

In 1931 Purina registered its first loss.   Two years later,  Danforth, an enthusiastic promoter,  got Admiral Byrd to endorse his Purina products.  This postcard shows Byrd team member, Charles E. Lofgren, with one of the expedition's huskies.

The dog food market picked up in 1935.  Albers Brothers Milling Company merged with Carnation and in 1936 release Friskies directly to the public. By the 1950s, both Purina Checkers and Friskies were widely available through local grocery stores. Today, in the U.S., we spend more than 10 billion dollars a year on companion animal food.