Tag Archives: veterinary history

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

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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