The beginning of the 20th century produced many of our favorite things like the automobile, radio, telephone, and most importantly, cute animal photographs!
1. The first cat meme?
The single most important thing you need to know about the turn of 20th century is that humans invented cameras and they were obsessed with their pets. What happened next was only obvious.
2. The most adorable pictures!
Photographer Harry Whittier Frees created a splash with his photographs of puppies and kitten dressed up perfectly as tiny humans enacting human situations.
His 50 year career started in 1906. He sold calendars, children's books and postcards according to this article from The Atlantic. His most popular book was Animal Mother Goose with Characters Photographed from Life, published in 1921. How Frees got these perfectly posed photographs is still up for debate.
3. People loved pictures of animals in people clothes, doing people things!
The moment the camera was invented, people became obsessed with photographing their pets dressed in human clothes according to Gizmodo. Who could blame them!?
4. People being weird with animals was also a popular photography subject.
As long as people have had pets, they've been doing weird stuff with them.
This article from Rest Nova documents the fun fad.
4. Collies were popular pups.
Collies were the most popular dog to own in the early 1900's.
5. Lassie saved someone's life.
The Lassie television show premiered in 1954, but it was inspired by events on New Years Day, 1915. The real Lassie was a half collie owned by a pub owner. The Royal Navy battleship was torpedoed by a German sub and five hundred lives were lost. The local pub offered their cellar as a makeshift morgue. Presumed dead, John Cohen was stored in the cellar. Lassie knew he was still alive so she snuggled up to Cohen, licked his face and kept him warm until he woke up. This heartwarming story was shared by soldiers to every reporter who would listen. Lassie's story made its way to Hollywood, and a doggie star was born.
7. The Boston Terrier was the most popular dog of the 1910's
Here's some fun facts about Boston Terriers: 1) They were the first non-sporting dog bred in the United States 2) These dapper little dogs are known as "American Gentlemen" 3) The Boston Terrier is NOT considered a terrier by the American Kennel Club 4) This is one of the few dog breeds that originated in America.
8. The most popular dog name was "Prince."
The most popular doggie name was Prince according to woofreport. The other nine most reported dog names were Jim, Brownie, Dick, Sport, Shep, Bob, Jack, Jip, and Duke. This information comes from dog license books from Bakersfield, California in 1898, 1900 and 1901.
All dogs were required to be license and tagged, which seems reasonable, but it was super expensive! The fee was $2, equivalent to $50 these days. So maybe these were just rich people's dog names?
9. Veterinary medicine was a profession.
The first veterinary medicine schools in the United States were formed in Boston, New York and Philadelphia.
10. People bought commercial dog food.
The rationale about dog food in the early 1900's was that modern dogs were civilized and should not be eating raw meat like their wild ancestors. Civilized dogs should be eating processed and packaged dog food. In 1909 the Association of American Feed Control Officials was founded to make sure that commercial pet food is nutritious. You can still find the AAFCO nutritional adequacy statement on pet food today.
11. Jean, the Vitagraph Dog was the first canine movie star.
Featured in leading roles with Vitagraph Studios from 1909-1913, Jean the Vitagraph Dog not only knew tricks and commands, this talented Scotch Collie actually knew how to act. Sadie could do the unthinkable at the time — she could act like a natural dog on cue! Sadie appeared in over 20 films, including Jean and Her Family, where she gave birth to six pups.
12. Sergeant Stubby was a war hero.
Sergeant Stubby fought in 17 battles. This stray pup found his way into the 102nd Infantry Regiment training on the Yale University campus in 1917. According to History.com, this charming pit bull mix was adopted by Private J. Robert Conroy, who smuggled him to the front lines in France. Stubby attacked a German spy, earning himself the rank of sergeant. Sergeant Stubby became a national icon, and totally outranked his owner.
Do you want more fun pet facts? Scroll through this article about owning pets in the 1960s!