Article : Nervous dogs need admin, son!
‘Nervous dogs need admin, son!’ is both the title of my latest published article – and the title of an advert for canine vitamins I found in the Tail -Wagger for October 1940.
The same issue of the monthly magazine included photographs of Winston Churchill patting a Great Dane and of a Kerry Blue champion. There were adverts including those for Hackbridge Kennels to which dogs could be evacuated for ‘the duration’, Spratts dog food ‘still carrying on!’ and canine gas masks and gas – proof kennels. The editorial written at the height of the so-called Battle of Britain was headed with the much – used epithet ‘We can take it’, endorsing the myth of a resilient Britain standing alone.
This jocular advert is aimed at dog lovers. The cartoon bulldog, recognised as a specific breed by the Kennel Club from the 1870s, wears its regulation collar and acts symbolically for Britain reassuring the nervous puppy. The dogs’ male gender is emphasised by the language: ‘sir’ and ‘son’. However this particular ‘bulldog’ would not have been eligible for show since he has no testicles – this absence is clearly displayed given the angle of the image. Despite his firm four-footed stance and iconic status this great British bulldog has no balls…
The querulous complaint of the puppy plays upon a war rumour. In 1940 measures were taken to regulate food for non-human animals. In Britain a Waste of Food Order obliged animal keepers to act reasonably, while stressing that pets could still be fed. At a similar time there were (inaccurate) reports that Hitler had ordered all dogs to be killed since they were taking food from humans. However, there was a rumour that German dogs were being killed because Germans allegedly liked eating dog meat. This rumour has been exposed as such.