George Eastman Museum – A history of Dogs in photos

When did dogs come into our lives as pets?

Wikipedia and other sites will tell you they aren’t exactly sure. They know it was the Grey Wolf about 27,000-40,000 years ago.  These dogs were mainly seen as assistants to humans. The hunters-gatherers types. Some scientists argue that friendly wolves sought out humans. Friendliness caused strange things to happen in the wolves. They started to look different. Domestication gave them splotchy coats, floppy ears, wagging tails. In only several generations, these friendly wolves would have become very distinctive from their more aggressive relatives. But the changes did not just affect their looks. Changes also happened to their psychology. These protodogs evolved the ability to read human gestures.

As dog owners we take for granted that our dog can get the toy we ask them too. Or if we have taken the time to teach out dogs hand gestures, they can read us. They are reading us! All of the time.Some dogs are so attuned to their owners that they can read even a simple, subtle change in eye direction.

Throughout history, animals have played a key role in human life. People have come to rely on animals for food, clothing, and transportation. Even religious worship.

From what I have learned pet keeping wasn’t generally accepted in Europe until the end of the 17th century, and it wasn’t common among the middle classes until the late 18th century. Pet keeping in its present form is probably a 19th century Victorian invention. At this time, it was perceived as a link with the natural world, which itself was no longer seen as threatening. It also allowed a visible demonstration of man’s domination over nature.

My reason to today’s blog is not to school you in the history of pet keeping but to answer my curiosity of when were dogs important enough to photograph?

The George Eastman House Museum

In my on-going quest to answer this question. I stumbled upon some answers. While Bud and I were attending the George Eastman House in Rochester, NY for a class in Daguerreotypes, we had a chance to visit the museum, or “George’s house”. I was surprised to find these four photos hanging in his private family collection.

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Be Sure to look closely at the dates. The 1800’s!

When I travel through a museum I have this thing about seeing how many paintings include a dog, I want a better understanding. It’s quite a lot actually. Dogs by themselves hunting. Or a girl in a beautiful dress holding a dog. Dogs at the feet of their masters. One of my favorites is of a dog “relieving” himself in what seems to be a church. Come to find out Emanuel de Witte painted this scene quite a bit. Were dogs even allowed in Church? Not in my day, that would have been cool!

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It seems as though dogs for pets were for the wealthy. I suppose so were photographs and paintings, so who’s to say the un-wealthy didn’t keep any dogs for pets. It could be that it just was not recorded.

 

In my travels I keep any eye out for old photographs of dogs. Here are some I have come across.

Do you have any old photos of a dog?

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Author: Kimberly Sarah Photography

Owner / Photographer Kimberly Sarah Photography.

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