I don’t know about meals at your house, but even when I dine “alone” I am actually not — I’m being observed intently by my dog. And this is the case here, in this remarkable real photo postcard labeled “Crosby’s Hungry Pets.” This is the only text on the postcard, which was taken between 1902 and 1907 but was never sent as a postcard.
The photograph shows a couple at home, with three animals joining them at the table. I’ve included details so that you can get a good look at the trio of pets. The picture seems to have been taken in a dining room. It’s a middle-class household, and the space is decorated with a framed print, lace-trimmed shelf drapery and a two-panel screen behind the man. There are lots of interesting details, including the stacked champagne glasses behind the man. I think that the meal might be breakfast. The photographer is unknown, but the woman and the dog (and maybe the parrot) are looking at someone. The cat and the man are focused on whatever is in the bowl. The woman actually has a tidbit in her hand to attract the dog’s gaze.
Until photography became easy and inexpensive enough for lots of people to try their hands at it, many everyday behaviors with pets were undocumented unless people mentioned them in writing. Along with evidence of mealtime with pets, this postcard suggests peaceful coexistence among the animals, who look very well cared-for. Let me note here that there are some odd reflections behind the woman’s head; I think they are an artifact of the exposure.
Enjoy looking at “Crosby’s Hungry Pets.” I wish we knew more about the subjects of this wonderful real photo postcard!