Looking through my collection of early photographs of dogs, it’s clear that lots of family pets were taught at least one trick — “sit up” or “beg.” I’ll be adding more photos to this album as I have time to scan them, and I’ll share advice on teaching dogs tricks from old books and pamphlets on dog training.
“Charley and Curley 1900” is a cyannotype (a fancy name for a blueprint). A simple form of photographic printing, amateur photographers experimented with it for a couple of decades. This cyannotype isn’t even square, and it has an edge that suggests that the image was torn from a larger piece of sensitized paper. It’s glued to a piece of heavier paper. But don’t you love this picture of two dapper fellows. I’m assuming “Curley” is the dog. He’s wearing a straw boater, a popular summer hat for both men and women.
This real photo postcard shows a very little boy dressed in Sunday best short pants, white hose and patent leather “mary janes.” He’s been posed outdoors, against what looks like the side of a barn or shed, and a dining room chair has been brought outside to create the pose with the two dogs. The dog sitting up on the chair has a very appealing expression. She has had puppies, probably repeatedly, since spaying wasn’t available widely until the 1930s.
While Tip McGinley sits up, Pilot Nixon looks wise with a pair of spectacles on his nose. This is a studio photograph, unlike the previous two. What I like about the caption is that the dog friends are identified by both first and last names.