Category Archives: veterinary history

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 III: Mrs. Goodwin and Business Promotion in 1920s L. A.

Richard Goodwin, Los Angeles dog specialist, was the son of Irish immigrants and born in Massachusetts, according to the 1930 United States Census. While he could read and write, he had never attended school.  His dwelling and the site of his kennel, on West Washington Street was rented rather than owned, and only worth $100. His immediate neighbors included a dentist, shipping clerks, carpenters, truck drivers and hotel doormen.  Like Goodwin, none of them were native Californians, and a few had been born in Mexico.

Yet Goodwin made at least some of his income from the array of silent-film starlets, theatrical bookers, radio announcers and others who earned respectable, if not munificent, livings on the margins of  L. A. show business.  From his start with “advertising dogs” on the streets in the 1910s, Goodwin used his connections to create a business breeding, training and caring for their dogs. I have not been able to find any evidence of Goodwin as a dog trainer for silent films, but that doesn’t mean he didn’t have a hand in there.  On January 11, 1929, an article in the Los Angeles Times reporting on the poor health of the Fire  Department’s mascot  Lord Byron assured readers that the bulldog was “receiving personal attention from Richard Goodwin, dog expert who cares for the health of the famous dogs of stage and screen.”

Richard Goodwin’s efforts to make his mark had already gotten him in trouble in 1919, when he was fined for practicing veterinary medicine without a license.  He didn’t give up, however.  Along with his breeding kennel and his proprietary remedies,  Goodwin also tried to make a mark by introducing another service to security-conscious dog owners:  canine nose prints as a way of tracking stolen dogs.  Here is Richard Goodwin taking a nose print of his Boston terrier Sharkey.pets-blog-7-jan-2017-goodwin_0003

In the 1920s, cattle breeders experimented with taking nose prints, and at least one Los Angeles veterinarian, a Dr. Clark (who I have been unable to trace further for the time being), promoted the idea of a nose-print “bureau” for dogs in 1923.

However, Richard Goodwin had another asset in his quest for success: Louise Goodwin. According to the same 1930 census manuscript, Louise E. Goodwin was a bookkeeper, twenty-three years younger than her husband.  By then Louise, who had been born in Maryland, and Richard had been married for eight years. This photo from Richard Goodwin’s Dog and Cat Book suggests what an asset she was to the operation, with her crimped hair and fashionable dress, and her arm around a chow dog who had recovered from mange.

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It is difficult to tell for certain, but Mrs. Goodwin may be one of the dog “laundresses” depicted in six photographs in the collection of the Los Angeles Public Library.  From an anonymous photographer, the undated and otherwise unidentified images feature three young women in white laboratory-style coats printed with “Richard Goodwin Dog & Cat Remedies” washing a Boston terrier, fox terrier puppies and a glum-looking collie at the “Dog & Cat Laundry.”  Whether this is actually Goodwin’s establishment is unclear;  the set-up consists of improvised laundry tubs and a clothesline located next door to a building advertising Goodrich Tires.  I reproduce two of them here.

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Photograph of women washing dogs, no date.  Photographer unknown. Source: Security Pacific National Bank Collection, Los Angeles Library.

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Unidentified woman hanging puppies on clothesline, no date. Photographer unknown.  Source: Security Pacific National Bank Collection, Los Angeles Library.

Why were these photos made? I wonder whether they were taken around the time that Richard Goodwin published his booklet; perhaps they were intended to be placed as light features in local newspapers. I can imagine all kinds of scenarios, But without the lab coats and the hat, these would never have been associated with Richard Goodwin and their purpose remains unknown.

Richard Goodwin’s business seems to have ticked along — until his death at the end of April in 1931.  The Los Angeles Times published a short article on May 2, “Funeral Rites Today for Richard Goodwin.” He was locally famous enough to attract this final bit of attention. The article stated that his kennel had been in business since 1913, which is earlier than my research has been able to confirm but is congruent with the time that his advertising-sign dogs began to ply the city’s streets.  Sometime after that, the kennel seems to have closed.  In the 3 March 1935 issue of the  Los Angeles Times, a classified advertisement under “Business Opportunities” tolled the end of the Richard Goodwin story: “RICHARD GOODWIN Pet Medicines and Formulas is (sic) to be sold at once to close estate. $300 cash.” Poor Louise Goodwin. I hope that she and the remaining dogs were able to live in some comfort after the death of the enterprising dog specialist.

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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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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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Dog Muzzles and City Dogs, 1900

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Dog muzzles, ca. 1900.

In 2005, I purchased this Victorian dog muzzle from an online auction.  I knew what it was because I had seen a wood engraving from 1900 of a similar (or perhaps it is the same) muzzle.  It’s a very rare survival of a utilitarian object — an artifact that, I imagine, no one loved or felt sentimental about.  It survived, even in its broken condition, because someone just didn’t throw it away.

The small image is a detail from a catalog from a sporting good company that also sold dog supplies and equipment.  I think that my muzzle is the “Patent Automatic Muzzle,” shown in use in the larger image of a dog’s head.  These muzzles were apparently designed to allow dogs to breathe easily, drink water and pant, while preventing them from opening their mouths wide enough to bite.

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Dog muzzle, steel wire and leather. Maker unknown, American, 1880-1920. The strap that fits around the back of the head is broken,

Muzzling the dog was once part of the routines of conscientious dog care.  That’s because many dogs were allowed to roam, even in cities, and dog bites were a real public health problem.  As late as 1917, Philadelphia city ordinances allowed dogs to roam as long as they wore a “wire basket muzzle” and a collar with the owner’s name inscribed on a metal plate. Enforcement of muzzling seems to have been especially stringent during summer months, when rabies was believed to be most common.  (I’m still trying to figure out when rabies shots for dogs became routine.  If you have information on this, I’d appreciate a comment to this post.)

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Another view of the dog muzzle, mounted on a form used in the exhibition of “Pets in America.”

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“All I Did Was Growl a Little,” after Vincent Colby. Lithograph, ca. 1910.

Another view of the muzzle shows one of its most extraordinary features:  it has loops of wire that are “nostrils.”  This embellishment can’t have made any difference in the muzzle’s effectiveness;  it seems to be purely a matter of style! The side view of the muzzle also has a kind of delicacy;  it seems to follow the head shape of an imaginary dog.

While muzzling was common, people also made fun of the practice, suggesting that people worried entirely too much about dog bites.  Around 1907, the postcard artist Vincent Covey published an image titled “All I Did Was Growl a Little.”  It became popular and was reprinted in a variety of forms, including a version  titled “For the Safety of the Public.”   The image was sold as prints to be framed (as in the illustration here) and even appeared as an outline drawing on a wooden plaque intended for use in the turn-of-the-century home craft of wood-burning.

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Dog muzzles and ties offered for sale by J. C. Decker, Inc., Montgomery, Pennsylvania, 1939.

By 1939, fancy wire dog muzzles were replaced by these sturdy leather examples from J.C. Decker, Inc., a company that made leashes, collars and other dog equipment.  Notice the muzzle on the lower right;  it is a “police dog” muzzle.

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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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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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