I once asked a friend, a professional dog handler, for some advice about training tools. She told me that it doesn’t matter how heavy the leash is, it’s all about how much control you have over your dog. A thin leather leash is all that’s needed for a well-mannered canine companion. At the time I had just taken on a young German Shepherd Dog who had the unfortunate combo of brute strength and a strong fear response to anything the world had to offer. There was never a time I felt comfortable with a thin leather leash with this fella.
I was reminded of this conversation when reviewing this remarkable cabinet card photo.
Those who’ve been following our sister site at Raising a Super Dog are aware of my appreciation of All Things Dog. I am absolutely fascinated by all facets of the canine-human bond.
So besides taking the talk for a walk, so to speak, by raising service dogs and volunteering as a pet therapy team, I collect stories to share how dogs change our lives in positive and profound ways.
Awhile back, I created a Dogs of Yore Pinterest board as a jump start to capturing the long history of people enjoying life with their four-legged companions. In a time when a photo-op was a planned event, and not just “IDK, feeling cute. Might delete later,” these were folk who wanted to showcase their relationship with their canine partner.
Since starting the digital image collection on Pinterest, I began looking for original images as well. And so I welcome my newest acquisition of this cabinet card of a lovely young German lady, who shares a vague resemblance to Sigourney Weaver, and her brindle Deutsche Dogge, a breed we now know as the Great Dane. And one really, really thin leash.
Based on the type of cabinet card and the young lady’s attire, I’m taking a swag this is just about 1895. Let’s take a closer look at the details for any other possible clues.
The reverse side of the cabinet card has the standard stuff with the name and address of the studio, along with how they are able to make more prints upon request. In this case, the photographer uses the term “die platten,” which indicates they were likely using a dry glass plate process.
A close-up of the young lady shows more details of her dress, which appears to be a dark velvet beneath the puff-shouldered frock; a decorative pin at her throat is the only jewelry she is wearing. Her gaze is one of confidence and is only matched by her dog’s expression.
What scares this woman? I’m guessing not much.
The Deutsche Dogge, or Great Dane, was popular in the early 1800’s in Germany as boar hounds. This explains the closely cropped ears on our handsome friend here, which was still the style at the time of this photo. However, this guy was most likely a beloved pet of a family with modest wealth, not a hunter.
And that beautiful head shape shows a bit of the Mastiff background bred into these dogs. But hey, what about that one-ear-up and one-ear-down thing he has going on there? It takes some of his street cred away, doesn’t it?
Speaking of street cred, let’s take a moment to respect the leash loosely held in the young lady’s hand. Consider that she left her home holding that thin phone cord of a thing, strolled the streets to reach the Mr. H. Olm’s studio at the Georgenpromenade, entered a building with strange men with beards and hats, then she posed with a dog so massive they had to move the camera equipment back to get the whole dog in the shot. You did notice the front paws hanging off the edge, right?
“Could you move your dog back a bit, please, Miss? Nein? Uh, ok, then.”
As always with these things, I wish I could know more about this photo. What was her name, did she grow up with this breed of dog, if the geraniums on the table indicate it was summer, wasn’t it too hot to wear velvet?
And the dog’s name? It must have been something heroic, right? I’m guessing he might be a Kätzchen, Törtchen, or something befitting.
But I could be wrong. Maybe it’s closer to 1900.