The Westminster Kennel Club Dog Show is upon us, so I thought I’d share a photograph of some of the merchandise offered for sale at the 1956 edition of the show. By the 1920s, many department stores had pet departments of one type or another; Macy’s had a “Kennel Shop” featuring attractive collars and leashes, beds, bowls, toys, grooming supplies and equipment, and treats, too. This is the booth Macy’s created for Westminster. I wish I could find other photos from the vendor area!
Take a look at the detail below and you’ll see the advertisement for Dog Yummies from Hartz Mountain. The sign says, “REWARD YOUR PET WITH DOG YUMMIES THE VITAMIN RICH SUGAR FREE TREAT.” Okay, stop and think about this. We think that worrying about dogs eating too much sugar is something that goes along with our own current obsessions with diet and health. Here is an avowedly sugar-free dog treat from more than sixty years ago.
In the display of collars in the front left case, I can see fancy collars. In the 1950s and 1960s, these kinds of collars — examples from my collection appear in the photo below — made dressing up poodles and other small dogs fun for owners.
I have mixed feelings about the Westminster Kennel Club show and its role in promoting the global business of “purebred” puppies. But it’s interesting to see what the world of products for pets looked like in the 1950s, before the industry for pet supplies and equipment — and for the dogs themselves — really took off.