Category Archives: small animal medicine

Dr. Hyde, Pet Vet, 1939

I try to purchase paper items relating to early small-animal veterinary practices when they come my way. (Check out my post from July 2015 on the an early New York City animal hospital, based on a 1900 pamphlet that promoted the practice.)  I was pleased to be able to purchase this group of snapshots of a veterinarian and his practice, all dated 1939.  I’m still trying to figure out who Dr. Hyde is.  I made the mistake of not quizzing the seller of these snapshots about the source, and I will try to contact him as time permits.  If I learn more, I’ll revise this post.

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The office appears to be in a residential neighborhood, and it looks like a converted two-car garage.

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The operating/examination room is very simple, but it follows the ideas about small-animal practice that took hold in the 1920s, when many large-animal vets in cities and towns reoriented their practices toward the care of pets.  It has a white enamel sink on the left side and the operating table has a white enamel surface.  There’s a locker, perhaps for supplies, beyond the sink and a cabinet of medicines  on the upper right.

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And here is Dr. Hyde with either his own dog or one of his patients, who looks serious — perhaps at the prospect of getting a vaccination.  Dr. Hyde has his arm around the little fellow and they both look into the camera, like a studio photograph of a man and his dog.

I’m only sorry that there was apparently no photo of the waiting room.  I’d like to see whether Dr. Hyde followed the advice of the American Animal Hospital Association (founded in 1933) to create an office environment that paralleled that of the family physician.

If you know anything about Dr. Hyde, please share it with us!  I’d be happy to credit you as co-author of this post.

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Richard Goodwin, Dog Specialist, Part II

When Richard Goodwin published his book on the care of dogs and cats in 1927, he joined a group of small businessmen — druggists, dog breeders, old-time vets trained by apprenticeship and younger practitioners who attended the growing number of “veterinary colleges” — who made and bottled  their own over-the-counter medicines and remedies for pets.  They all left paper trails in the form of booklets distributed free to points of sale.  pets-blog-7-jan-2017-goodwin

A handful of these fellows —  veterinarian George Clayton of Chicago and the druggist Polk Miller of Richmond, Virginia, for example — published many editions of their advertising booklets; since the point-of-sale is often stamped in a space on the back cover, it’s possible to see where concerned dog owners obtained the remedies. These  texts suggest the presence of worried people dealing with an array of chronic problems — sarcoptic mange, worms, digestive diseases — and infectious diseases like distemper for which there were no effective vaccines.  As I have written elsewhere, most pet owners were their own veterinarians until the second half of the twentieth century.  “Tonics” and “blood builders” for dogs were also common offerings, reflecting the wide use of similar products for people and the uneven quality of the canine diet.  And the core products for any line of dog remedies were the flea powders that I’ve written about in other posts, along with kennel disinfectants using carbolic acid, an ingredient used to clean human sickrooms, too.

“From a Mangy Wreck to a Blue Ribbon Winner.”

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Richard Goodwin offered seven “preventatives” for the pet owner’s medicine chest;  their formulae are unknown, but practical wisdom among pet store owners, dog breeders and early vets probably included exchanging observations on what worked and what didn’t, just as it did among stablemen treating horses.

What sets this little booklet apart from the others is its use of southern California testimonials throughout, and the implication that Richard Goodwin had connections with the growing film industry. Excerpts of testimonial letters are often found in most advertising for dog remedies, but Goodwin doesn’t seem to be interested in a national market for his products.  Along with the story of Pal, above, readers saw proof of efficacy in photos of patients like Fritsie, below, with invitations to visit the recovered patient and actual street addresses for so doing.                           pets-blog-7-jan-2017-goodwin_0008

Goodwin also used Hollywood’s preoccupation with stardom, no matter how slight, as a promotional tool.  Phyllis Haber, one of Mac Sennett’s original Bathing Beauties (she worked steadily through the 20s and left the movies to marry a millionaire), got a full page glamour shot  along with her testimonial.

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Put together the practical tips such as how to make a homemade flannel coat for nursing a dog with a fever (below); the promotional bluster associated with Goodwin’s own trained “advertising dogs;” testimonials of Californians on the fringes of the growing film industry, and the photos of Goodwin himself as a practical “dog man” in a sharp suit, and you get a glimpse of a pretty interesting life.

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The 1920s was the decade of the new canine movie star, with Rin Tin Tin at the apex of public recognition.  Richard Goodwin doesn’t seem to have been able to capitalize on this directly — perhaps he was didn’t want to.  But there is some unusual evidence of his ongoing preoccupation with promotion.  And the inspiration for this may have been Mrs. Richard Goodwin, who was — as they say — a looker.

Stay tuned for the next exciting chapter….

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Filed under advice literature on pets, dogs, patent medicines for pets, pet industry, pet supplies and equipment, pets, small animal medicine, veterinary history, veterinary medicine

Richard Goodwin, Los Angeles “Dog Specialist” of the 1920s, Part I

Meet Richard Goodwin, Dog Specialist.  This is a face that looks like its owner has been around and seen a few things….stylish fedora and bow tie aside.

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I purchased this small book (it’s only 5 inches by 4 inches in size) a while ago, and over the holidays I began to look into the story of Richard Goodwin, whose photograph suggests that he was what might be termed a “character.”   What I’ve discovered so far says says something about the improvisational nature of much of the nascent pet industry, but it’s also an entertaining — if incomplete — story of an opportunistic guy who clearly worked on the far edges of show business and had enough talent for self-promotion.

Richard Goodwin left a thin, but intriguing, trail of newspaper articles and advertisements from his apparent arrival in Los Angeles in 1915 until his death in 1931.  He first appears in the 16 April 1916 issue of the Los Angeles Times, in an article titled “How to Treat Animals:”

Richard Goodwin, whose four trained dogs have been features on the streets of Los Angeles for months past, as they carry advertising costumes, pipes in their mouths, etc. spoke before the Loreto-street school Friday on “Proper Care and Treatment of Animals.”

The talk, which included dog tricks (not the usual kindness-to-animals public lecture, this)  was by invitation of the Parent-Teacher association, which also “requested” that Goodwin speak at other schools and “in the orphanages.” The images below, from the 1928 booklet, suggest what both passersby and the audience for this talk saw.

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One of the dogs, “His Master’s Choice,” was featured in a 13 January 1918 Los Angeles Times article under the headline “Dog Helps to Sell the War Savings Stamps.”  The dog, whose name was actually Spike, wore a signboard.  Goodwin made at least some of his living from the “world’s champion advertising dog,” but was donating his services to the war stamps sales effort.

“The Nation’s Pride” and “His Master’s Choice” were either Boston terriers or a related cross. In 1917, Goodwin began to run periodic ads for stud services from purebred Boston terriers with the address 1668 W. Washington Street, a relatively new residential neighborhood in the 1910s (now a poor, predominantly Latino neighborhood in central Los Angeles).  From this kennel, Goodwin apparently also did dog doctoring, and he got his hand slapped for this. In 1919, the Society of Veterinarians of Southern California filed a complaint against Goodwin for “practicing veterinary medicine without a license,” and he was fined $60 after pleading guilty (“Veterinary Practice,” Los Angeles Herald 9 April 1919, p. 17).

This temporary setback did not prevent Richard Goodwin from developing and publicizing his business. In December 1919, he donated a “$1000 Puppy,” which looks like another  Boston terrier in the blurry online newspaper photograph, to the Police Relief Association auction. An advertisement in the Automobile Club of Southern California’s driving guide Spanish California and the Gold Rush offers a sense of the scope “Richard Goodwin’s Sanitary Kennels” and the ambitions of their owner: “Dogs Trained, Boarded and Treated.” “Three Expert Veterinarians in Attendance.” “High School for Dogs.”  The idea of a “sanitary kennel” was important to well-informed  dog owners at this time:  there was still no remedy for distemper, for example, and advice books of the era are universal in recommending cleanliness as especially important to successful rearing of puppies.

A scattering of classified advertisements track Richard Goodwin’s Sanitary Kennels through the mid-1920s, but none of these mention the line of remedies that are promoted in little book and I have been unable to learn anything more about this period.  Things start to change in 1927, however, when yet another small advertisement in the L.A. Times urges readers to send for “Richard Goodwin’s Dog Book.”  And this is when things start to get especially interesting, as the book’s text and illustrations suggest.

I’ll offer Part II of Richard Goodwin’s story as my next blog post.

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Filed under advice literature on pets, dog training, patent medicines for pets, pet industry, pet photography, pet supplies and equipment, pets, small animal medicine, veterinary history, veterinary medicine

The New York Veterinary Hospital, 1900: An Early Small-Animal Practice

Small animal veterinary practices were uncommon until the 1920s, when the rapid disappearance of working horses in cities forced many large animal vets to either close their practices or learn how to care for pet animals.  The University of Pennsylvania was the first American vet school to open a clinic for dogs. (Until the 1960s, the majority of  vets still trained to be large-animal specialists.)  The earliest small animal clinics all seem to have been located in big cities.  I’ve discussed this in an earlier post, on a Los Angeles dog hospital from 1917; take a look at “Dr. Byles’ Dog Hospital, 1917”  from November 2014.

I recently came into a very rare — and very fragile — little booklet titled The Dog. Management in Health, Treatment in Disease by Dr. S. K. Johnson, the “Chief Surgeon” of the New York Veterinary Hospital, located at 117 West 25th Street in New York City.  Published in 1900, the booklet had several purposes.  First, it promoted Dr. Johnson’s Dog Remedies, a line of over-the counter medicines and a flea shampoo.   The text offered “principal symptoms in plain language” so that a sick dog could be “diagnosed and treated intelligently and promptly by any person.” The booklet also offered consultation with “canine specialists” through the mail for $2.00 (prepaid, of course).

Dr. Johnson introduced himself as the “consulting Veterinarian” to the American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals. I’ll try to look into his career and will let you know if I find anything more.  He also used to booklet to promote the Canine department o the New York Veterinary Hospital, “under exclusive charge of canine specialists for the past Eighteen years,” suggesting that it was founded in 1882, two years before the University of Pennsylvania founded its dog clinic!  I wonder whether Dr. Johnson was trained in England or Germany, where small-animal medicine was more advanced than in this country.

It is needless to state that during that period an enormous number of dogs and cats have been treated….From the most trivial to the most serious cases, from the slightest to the most critical operations have been performed on dogs and cats.  This immense experience, obtained by our specialists in the treatment of diseases, has resulted in the most perfect methods and remedies…the best, surest, and safest cure…compounded in Our own laboratory under the direct supervision of able chemists and veterinarians.

To support these claims, and perhaps to attract new patients to 117 West 25th Street, the booklet also offered photo-mechanical images of the practice.  Their quality isn’t very good, but they are still a remarkable record of an early small-animal clinic.  The hospital still treated equine patients, too.  If you go back to my post on Dr. Byles’ Los Angeles dog hospital, you can see how much modern small-animal practices changed, partly to reflect improved sanitation and partly to appeal to owners who expected their pets’ medical practice to look as modern and clean as their own doctors’ offices.

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The Canine Ambulance of the New York Veterinary Hospital. Back cover of The Dog. Management in Health, Treatment in Disease, 1900. Early dog hospitals often had ambulances since urban pet owners had no way to transport their sick or hurt animals to the clinic.

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Inside cover of The Dog. Management in Health, Treatment in Disease, Dr. S. K. Johnson, author. 1900. The two dark lines are from old repairs with cellophane tape.

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Consultation and Reception Offices Canine Department. New York Veterinary Hospital. From The Dog. Management in Health, Treatment in Disease, 1900. Notice the display of medicines on the back wall.

 

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North Section of the Canine Department, New York Veterinary Hospital. From The Dog. Management in Health, Treatment in Disease, 1900. A couple of patients in kennels are visible behind the table with medicines.

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“The Normal Temperature – Pulse – Respiration.” The Dog. Management in Health, Treatment in Disease included information to help pet owners evaluate their sick pets. The illustration showed how to create a cloth tape muzzle to prevent a dog bite.

 

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Pets for Christmas 1906: Lathrop’s Pet Stock Shop, Rochester, New York

IMG_5868Grading papers and all the other business of ending a semester temporarily halted my writing, but expect some Christmas items over the next week.

On December 18, 1906, Lathrop’s Pet Stock Shop in Rochester, New York, mailed this postcard to a local customer.  The message on the back offered “the best appreciated Holiday gifts,” including “Canary Birds of all varieties,” other song birds, gold fish, parrots, dogs, cats, and squirrels.  The shop also carried “Medicines for every known pet” and offered free advice to pet owners, who for the most part did their own doctoring.

 

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Here’s a detail of the central part of the image.  On the left, fish bowls are stacked all the way to the ceiling, while aquarium ornaments crowd the shelves below.  Lathrop’s promised its customers the “Largest assortment of Bird Cages,” and  you can see them in the picture, hanging from the ceiling and perched on an improvised shelf on the right side of the long, narrow shop.  On the right, an “illusion cage” sits on a round table.  These had been available since the late eighteenth century.  A double walled fish globe surmounts a bird cage.  A perch extends up into the globe, so that the bird will appear to be singing underwater, while fish swim around it.  This was not a great environment for a goldfish; I can’t imagine that they survived very long in the narrow confines of the double-walled globe.  By the early 1900s, goldfish were cheap enough that they could be given as inexpensive gifts, and they were, as they are now, disposable pets.

To the right of the “illusion cage” hang dog leashes, and the small boxes behind may be the dog medicines sold by the shop.  To the left of the illusion cage is a large parrot stand with two cups for food and water.  Notice too that the store offers supplies for urban chickens and for pigeons.

Where are the animals?  Probably in the back of the store, away from the drafts from the the front door. Or perhaps they were upstairs. This was the time of year when fresh shipments of canaries arrived in pet stores, many shipped all the way from Germany.  Notice that Lathrop’s, which sat in the heart of the downtown on prestigious East Avenue, also earned money by using the space right inside the door to sell magazines, newspapers, postcards and cigars, all of which are visible in the full card.  But the fact that the animals themselves are invisible suggest one of the fundamental truths of the pet supplies business:  buying the animal is just the first step in a long series of purchases of equipment, supplies and services.  These are what Lathrop’s highlighted inside the entrance to the store.

 

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Dr. Byles Dog Hospital, Los Angeles, 1917

Blog scans_0014“Dr. Austin B. Byles, of Los Angeles, Cal., has issued a neat little folder, describing and illustrating his new dog and cat hospital, which is admirably equipped for treating and boarding canine and feline pets.”  This item appeared in the September 1917 issue of the American Journal of Veterinary Medicine.  It’s notable because small animal medicine was neglected in this journal, which emphasized the bread-and-butter practice of livestock care until the 1920s.  Pets were generally an afterthought among vets, who were not trained in their care.  Most pet owners did their own home doctoring.  (I’ll discuss more about home doctoring in future posts.)  The exception to this was in big cities — New York, Philadelphia, and here in Los Angeles — where small animal practice was developing into a niche market with a well-to-do clientele.

This is the brochure described in the JVM.  It offers both interior and exterior views of the Dog Hospital, and looking closely at it reveals some important things about the  emergence of small animal veterinary hospitals in the United States.

Dr. Austin Beuzeville Biles was born in Ealing, London, England in 1878 or 1881 and emigrated to the United States via Victoria, British Columbia, in 1905.  In 1912, in his Declaration of Intention to pursue American citizenship (he was finally naturalized in 1918), he listed his occupation as “Veterinary Surgeon.” He opened a clinic in Long Beach and also bred Airdale Terriers, registering some of his studs with the American Kennel Club between 1904 and 1911.

Around 1915, Dr. Byles made a sudden sharp career shift away from veterinary practice: he tried to become an oil-lands developer. This venture seems to have failed; by 1917, Dr. Byles returned to his first occupation.  This was when he opened Dr. Byles Dog Hospital and put out this brochure, announcing that he had “resumed practice as a canine and feline specialist.Blog scans_0015

The brochure offered a view of the Dog Hospital, which seems to have been in a house converted to the purpose.  Dr. Byles’ residence was apparently on the second floor, and the spacious, fenced back yard contained a kennel building for boarding dogs.

In 1922, The North American Veterinarian published another short piece about Dr. Byles’ practice. By the 1920s, the profession was paying more attention to pets because urban vets were rapidly losing their primary income source, the urban horse.  This second article made special note of Dr. Byles’ operating room, which  contained “a steel operating table, electric sterilizer and instrument cabinets.”

Why were these features notable? Traditional large-animal practice typically took place in barns or stables, and vets made little effort to recreate sterile environmental conditions except for swabbing wound and incision sites  with disinfectants.  In comparison, Dr. Byles directly paralleled his methods to those of “human hospitals,” including adherence to accepted “principles of sterilization” and the use of anesthetics for all operations.  He depicted himself in a white  operating room, wearing a white smock.  His assistant wore a white dress and a cap.  The dog’s hurt leg is being bathed in a white enamel basin and dressed with a roll of sterile white cotton.  The brochure pointed out Dr. Byles’ concern with modern sanitation in other ways, too.  The kennels were painted white, dogs were fed in white enamel basins and small dogs received “their own white blankets to sleep on.”

The brochure’s pictures and text show that Dr. Austin Byles was aware that increasing numbers of pet owners regarded their charges as members of the family who were entitled to modern standards of care similar to what they expected to receive at their own doctors’ offices.  By the mid-1920s, more practices began to look like Dr. Byles Dog Hospital although small-animal small animal veterinary practice still had a long way to go.

If you would like to learn more about the rise of small animal veterinary practice, turn to Susan D. Jones’ fine book Valuing Animals: Veterinarians and Their Patients in Modern America (Johns Hopkins University Press, 2003).  I also discuss how people home-doctored their cats and dogs in my book Pets in America.

 

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