William G. FitzGerald
When you hear a man say he has “led the life of a dog,” it is pretty safe to assume he has not been dandled in the lap of luxury for some time anterior to his plaint. But surely, after the publication of this article, the popular significance of the metaphor will lose its force—if, indeed, the meaning be not completely reversed, so that inclusion in Dandy Dog-dom will represent the Alpha and Omega of epicurean splendour. . The fact is, mere ordinary folk have not the remotest notion of the extravagant extent to which canine pets are pampered nowadays by their highly-placed mistresses; and so utterly astounding and fantastic are the details, that I propose giving chapter and verse, so to speak, for every statement made.
The first photograph reproduced shows the reception-room of the Dogs Toilet Club, in New Bond Street—an institution certainly beyond the wildest dreams of the Battersea pariahs It was started by an enterprising and cultured lady, who had noticed the righteous wrath of the average domestic on being asked to give a pampered pet its daily bath. Everything about this club is of the daintiest; the very prospectus is in blue and gold, with a delicate bow of green ribbon at one corner. The reception-room—as one may judge from the illustration—is quite a sumptuous apartment; and the ordinary man on entering it may stumble over a costly occasional table, or occasional dog, as the case may be. For many ladies leave their pets here while shopping; others bring the little creatures to be shampooed, brushed, combed, clipped, and attended to by a professional chiropodist. Expensive sweetmeats are provided as a temporary solatium for the absence of the mistresses. The pictorial art of this handsome apartment is distinctly canine; so, too, are the contents of the glass-topped table seen on the left. This contains an interesting—not to say surprising—collection of requisites for fashionable dogs. There are morning, afternoon, and evening coats; mourning outfits, travelling costumes, and bridal dresses—for woe unto the canine aristocrat that hath not on a wedding garment when occasion demands. But more of this hereafter. The lady on the right has taken up the very latest sweet thing in dogs’ driving coats—the “Lonsdale”—made to measure, in fawn cloth, lined with dark red silk; it has a cape of the same that falls upon the pet’s shoulders, and a frill round the neck. This ornate garment is finished off with two gold bells; and the full collar is edged with fur to match that on the dress of the mistress.
Where did all this originate? In Paris, the city of eccentric, extravagant modes. Perhaps I cannot do better than reproduce the business card of Madame Ledouble, whose sumptuous establishment in the Palais Royal (Galerie d’Orléans) may be described as the Eldorado of Dandy Dog-dom. Not only does madame make dogs’ coats and fripperies generally, but she also publishes a canine fashion-book, of which an excellent notion may be gathered from the illustrations on this and the next page. These animals are stuffed specimens; all the others portrayed in this article are “from life.”
But let us consider for a moment these chic canine fashions—which, by the way, were photographed in Paris specially for THE STRAND MAGAZINE, thanks to the courtesy of M. Henri Durand, the agent for “Spratt’s Patent” in the French capital, and I must number the “models” in order that each may be briefly described.
No. 1 is a splendid wedding toilet of white broche silk, trimmed with satin ribbons and orange blossom.
No. 2 shows an imposing winter visiting costume with a Medici collar of chinchilla. Other furs can be had, such as sable and ermine.
A gorgeous theatre dress is No. 3; it is made in rich broché velvet, with a collar trimmed with sable.
Next comes the array of dainty lingerie (No. 4). The dog on the left, with the “mutton-chop whisker” appearance–(reminding one of the club waiter), is clothed in a dressing gown of thick silk, which protects him from the matutinal draughts; and his fellow-dandy is seen in a spotless chemise de nuit, which leaves uncovered the paws and tail. In the same group are seen a few other assorted night-shirts in silk, gauze, and flannel, together with dogs’ handkerchiefs suitable for various occasions, and india-rubber boots, laced and buttoned.
An appropriately lugubrious mourning toilet is depicted in No. 5. This is made in black cloth, velvet, or mousseline de soie, with a nice full collar. Of course, the handkerchief is en suite.
No. 6 shows a lovely yachting “gown” of navy blue cloth, with an anchor embroidered in white, red, or blue silk, matching the uniform of the crew. The name of the yacht always figures on these coats.
No. 7 is a distinctly striking group. The dog behind on the left is wearing a visiting costume of green cloth trimmed with fine astrakhan. Next is seen a white flannel coat with hood, for travelling in Switzerland; then come the two dogs on the right, one of which is clad in a spring coat of light cloth, and the other in a bright red and white garment, from whose pocket peeps a silken mouchoir.
No. 8 is a substantial travelling costume in Scotch tweed, with a pull-over collar, and pocket for railway-ticket, which latter is also shown.
Of course there are also bathing-dresses for Brighton, Dieppe, and Trouville, And it is not necessary for Madame Ledouble to measure the dog herself. You just write for patterns and fashion plates, and on choosing the outfit you receive careful instructions as to the measurement of your own pet, which instructions are carried out with surprising alacrity and splendour….
In the next photograph is seen an expert lady tailoress at work upon some stylish dog-coats. She is putting the finishing touches to the “Warwick.” This is a promenade costume in fine brown cloth, shot with pink, lined with rose-colored silk, fastened with a 15-carat gold clasp, and further ornamented with a double ruching at the neck like a lady’s cape. The coat on the machine is in dull red velvet, lined with white moiré. Observe the large scent-bottles near the seamstress ; for these dainty garments must be perfumed, otherwise the captious canines might (and do) evince a sudden dislike to the expensive garment selected.
But the aristocratic dog’s wardrobe also contains outfits for special occasions. I have seen a yellow satin coat trimmed with Honiton, and priced at ten guineas. An old favourite, seventeen years of age, was shown to me, and on being requested to examine his coat (of fine cloth lined with costly sable) I found a small electro-magnetic appliance sewn between the cloth and the fur lining. This dog was a bit of a hypochondriac—always fancying he was ill; he did, however, occasionally suffer from pneumonia and backache.
It is absurd to suppose that all kinds of dogs wear these garments; for example, no one would think of putting a coat on a Chow-Chow. On the other hand, dachshunds are sometimes provided with warm coats, and sealskin waistcoats also, mainly because they are apt to run through pretty long grass, and in this way, being short-legged, get their precious little stomachs wet, thus inducing various parlous canine ills. Wedding garments are always attractive; and of course, on such festive occasions, her ladyship’s pet is very much en suite. The little animal’s interest in the function may be infinitesimal—he may even regard the whole business with fierce loathing; still, he is dressed. The Maison Ledouble turns out wedding coats in white, – yellow, and crimson satins trimmed with orange blossom at the neck, and with white satin leaders; these coats cost about £5 each.
Should the newly-made bride wish to take her darling with her on the honeymoon trip, the dog-maid (no sinecure, this) swiftly changes Fido’s garments, replacing the gorgeous wedding outfit with a neat travelling suit of box-cloth, complete with hood and pockets for handkerchief, railway ticket, and biscuit—the latter by way of refreshment en route. If you think the toy dog is hustled into the guard’s van, you are grievously mistaken. He is carefully placed in a travelling kennel, such as is seen in the photograph.
This is really a beautiful hand-bag of cow-hide or crocodile, silver-mounted, and costing from four to ten guineas. It is well ventilated, and supplied with lambs’ wool mats. The wire grating is heavily gilt, or plated; and there is a leather flap which may be let down at the dog’s bed-time, or when the sun is too powerful for his eyes. Now, consider for a moment the group of costly canine trifles seen in the accompanying illustration.
I will describe each briefly, commencing with the top left-hand corner: (1) dress collar of pure white ivory, in imitation of that affected by the human genus dude, it has a neat, black tie; (2) collar of different shape, with tie, gold bell, and white silk leader; (3) dainty lace-bordered dog’s handkerchief of soft white silk; (4) three gold collars; (5) packet of 24 tiny hairpins, specially made for the toilet of lady poodles; (6) neat gold bracelet or bangle; (7) gold collar; (8) ditto; (9) collar of golden rings, price £15; (10) dress bracelet for lady poodle, consisting of purple satin bow with diamond buckle, valued at £45; lastly, we have a fine cambric handkerchief, and a silver collar.
These were photographed by our own artist at Barrett’s, in Piccadilly—a gorgeous establishment, whose proprietors make a special feature of catering for dandy dogs. It takes a lot to surprise Mr. Henry Barrett —to whom I am indebted for several photographs.
Dogs’ coats range in price from one to three guineas; collars from a sovereign to £60, some being of 18-carat gold fastened with a diamond brooch. Dogs with small heads and fat necks wear “harness.” This is an elaborate arrangement of straps with gold and silver mounts, whereby the pet is led from a ring on its back. Messrs. Barrett recently carried out an order for a certain noble lady, who wanted a gold-mounted tandem and four-in-hand harness—technically perfect—so that she might “drive her (canine) team afield” down Bond Street and in the park.
The mistress does not carry her pet’s handkerchief ; this would be an unpardonable breach of canine etiquette. The perfumed cambric or silken square is coquettishly stuck in Fido’s own coat pocket, so that it may be available for use on wet days, when those low omnibuses, carts, and cabs splash so horribly.
The little Maltese here shown is called “Dandy”—appropriately enough ; and he is dressed quietly and neatly, but in the best of taste—as these things go. His coat— colour photography is still a thing of the future—is of crimson velvet lined with white silk; and he has a nice curb-chain bracelet, worth five guineas, on his left paw. In winter Dandy wears a fur coat; and I may say that these garments are usually lined with seal and sable, their cost ranging up to ten or fifteen guineas.
Dogs’ bracelets or bangles cost, in gold, from two to ten guineas each; and in silver from 15s. to 3os. In Paris, these ornaments are frequently seen studded with precious stones, rendering the pet a most desirable piece of portable property. And the gems used vary according to the breed of dog.
Why, the very combs and brushes used on canine toilet-tables are as costly as choice of materials can make them. The hair-brushes are specially designed so that the hairs stand at a certain angle, thus facilitating the treatment of tangled (natural) coats. Three or four large brushes are first used ; then come the finer kinds, and lastly the combs, which are made in steel, silver, buffalo-horn, and tortoise-shell. The brushes cost from 5s. to 10s. 6d. each (dog’s name in gold or silver extra, of course); and the cheaper kind of combs are sold at Barrett’s for 3s.6d. and 5s. 6d.
Fastidious folk sometimes design collars in silver or gold for their own dogs; and big dogs often have solid silver collars made for them; notice two of these in the next picture.
The fact is, money is literally no object where aristocratic pet dogs are concerned.
Mr. Barrett tells me he has often made muzzles in gold and silver—as though such would be more tolerable than the “regulation patter” ; also leaders consisting of long chains of fine gold, and golden couples for promenading with pairs of dogs. A number of gold and silver couples and pretty bracelets are shown in the above illustration; it will be seen that the last-named ornaments lock on the dogs’ paws, thus obviating to certain extent the annoyance of periodical loss of valuable jewellery. By the way, anyone who has seen a lady trying to lead two playful pet dogs in the West-end will at once appreciate the use of the couples.
In the accompanying photograph is depicted a dog-basket or drawing-room lounge. It is lined with seal-skin and trimmed with bright red satin to match the decorations of the apartment. These baskets are also made by Barrett’s, lined with satin, plush, and brocade. Baskets are now being ordered which can be attached to cycles, so that the mistress can take her own daily exercise and give her beloved pet an airing at one and the same time.
The well-being of these toy dogs is studied to a truly amazing degree. What could possibly be more comical than the fully-equipped canine dandy here shown? This black-and-tan terrier is dressed for a morning call with his mistress, who will leave her pet’s card as well as her own, this extraordinary custom being considered necessary if there happens to be a toy dog at the house about to be visited.
Look at the little animal’s quaint tie and collar; and his card-case, sticking out of the front of his coat. The fair Parisienne, on hearing of ordinary sober English customs, is contemptuously amused, and probably exclaims: “Mais c’est drôle.” But the leaving of her dog’s card on a fellow-pet during the morning drive—this she considers in no wise funny.
And yet this fashion is now fairly with us; and, absurd as it is, there are still more outrageous canine modes to follow.
Here you have a good view of wet weather dogs’ boots: pretty little rubber goloshes, with black studs or buttons. Our artist photographed the set at Messrs. Atloff and Norman’s, in Bond Street. The boot for big occasions, however, is that shown in the next illustration; you may see the original for yourself at Barrett’s, in Piccadilly. This boot is of soft brown Russia, with a nice silk lace to match; the set of four is made to measure for two guineas. The rubber goloshes are sometimes worn by rheumatic dogs; others wear them because, while in London, they suffer from a foot complaint caused by the metallic grit on the roads.
The Strand Magazine 1896
Mrs Daffodil’s Aide-memoire: Mrs Daffodil can hardly think what to add to this exhaustive catalogue of luxury for dandy dogs, except that she has previously written about dog calling cards.
Mrs Daffodil invites you to join her on the curiously named “Face-book,” where you will find a feast of fashion hints, fads and fancies, and historical anecdotes
You may read about a sentimental succubus, a vengeful seamstress’s ghost, Victorian mourning gone horribly wrong, and, of course, Mrs Daffodil’s efficient tidying up after a distasteful decapitation in A Spot of Bother: Four Macabre Tales.