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The dogs that didn’t bark in the Blitz

2018 June 30

Rest Centre of dogs and humans, East End, September 1940

Philip Howell (together with me) has just had out a new article in the Journal of Historical Geography vol 61 (2018) pp.44-52. It draws on the material of Mass-Observation to investigate the complexities of the emotional dynamic of the home front during the war. Thus the affect and emotion between people and individual companion animals were transmitted and amplified. 

As I noted in my latest Great Cat & Dog Massacre book, we have argued here that British pet owners would typically rather struggle on and perhaps suffer with their companion animals, rather than have them summarily killed. (Although 400,000 cats and dogs were killed in the first week of war, this was related to the deaths of c.26% of animals in London.)

As we have concluded at the end of the article , even under the terrible conditions of the Blitz, dogs and other animals suffered alongside their owners, with anxiety and terror transmitted between pets and people. Both also provided each other with emotional support at a time of greatest stress. Mass Observation and the wartime state acknowledged this.

Over the years, apart from various books, I have written articles in many academic journals including History Workshop Journal, Public Historian, Women’s History Review, International Journal of Heritage Studies, Australian Cultural History Journal, Society and Animals, Anthrozoos etc. However, this is the first time I have contributed, thanks to Philip Howell, to a specific geographical journal.  I suspect I’m still remembering my earlier school experience of writing geography and now being pleased that previous images – carried out with bright coloured pencils – are not at all on this topic in these modern times!

One Response Post a comment
  1. July 9, 2018

    What a marvellous website this is. A wonderful voice for all animals who continue to suffer and die as a result of warfare.

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