In May 1873, Godey’s Lady’s Book, the most famous women’s magazine in nineteenth century America, published instructions on how to make this crocheted coat for a small dog. The fashion victim illustrated in the wood engraving of the result of this home craft project is an Italian greyhound, who would certainly have needed a coat like this in an unevenly heated American house. As I recall, the pattern calls for red and blue wool yarn. The coat also had small bells for buttons, so the dog would jingle as he trotted along. Collars for small house dogs often had bells, too.
I thought about other household animals that had to wear bells. By the late nineteenth century, house cats sometimes had belled collars to neutralize their effectiveness as hunters. This may have been associated with increased public interest in song bird protection. Horses sometimes had belled harnesses; I own a set of bells on a thick leather strap with buckles that belonged to my great-grandfather’s family. It was used when they hitched the horse to a sleigh in winter — just like the song “Jingle Bells.”
But back to our Italian greyhound with his elaborate coat. While having a jingling animal may not appeal to modern pet owners, I think that Victorian dog lovers would have found this a cheerful sound. Remember that the world was a lot quieter than it is today!