If you’re anywhere close to St. Louis, head over to the American Kennel Club Museum of the Dog. The museum has a Fido Friendly Visitation Policy and welcomes obedient dogs on a leash. You’ll find treats, fresh water, and ample space to exercise your dog while you’re visiting. The museum, located at 1721 S. Mason Road in beautiful Queeny Park, West St. Louis County, Missouri, is open year-round; find hours and directions here. Here’s their purpose statement:
The AKC Museum of the Dog is dedicated to the collection, preservation, exhibition, and interpretation of the art, artifacts and literature of the dog for the purposes of education, historical perspective, aesthetic enjoyment and in order to enhance the appreciation for and knowledge of the significance of the dog and the human/canine relationship.
It’s rare indeed to find a museum that openly welcomes our canine friends, and even more unusual to find one that actually has dogs on the presentation schedule. From the museum’s page:
Don’t miss out on Guest Dog of the Week on Saturday and Sunday afternoons, March through October. Guest Dog of the Week was started in 1987 with more than one thousand dogs presented to the public in two decades. By invitation, responsible dog owners are invited to bring canine companions to meet Museum visitors. Individuals are encouraged to ask questions about breed temperament, dog ownership, rescue programs, and more! Call the Museum at 314-821-3647 during regular hours for a current schedule of Guest Dogs.
Can’t make it to the museum? You can also find information about the museum via the AKC website. That’s where I learned about the “queen of canine portraitists” Maud Earl, whose work attracted the attention and patronage of Queen Victoria and many others. Born in London in 1864, she moved to New York City around 1915 where, according to AKC staff writers: “Her reputation preceded her, and she quickly became the darling of America’s leading dog fanciers who wanted their great champions immortalized on canvas.” (You can read the entire article here.)
Included in that same AKC article are these images; I’m reposting them here with the AKC staff writers’ commentary–which includes quotes by the artist and experts–for all to appreciate her work.
This picture, dated 1905, hangs in the AKC collection in New York. Art dealer and historian William Secord writes: “Maud Earl acknowledged that to portray the correct conformation, expression, coat texture and other attributes of the dogs she painted, she enjoyed the tutelage of some of the greatest breed experts of 19th and early 20th century dogdom. The eminent British authority, William Arkwright, was her mentor regarding the characteristics of Pointers.”
This 35 x 60-inch canvas was commissioned by Mr. and Mrs. Sherman Hoyt in 1935 to commemorate their famous standard Poodle, still considered one of the greatest show dogs and sires of all time. He was the first of his breed to win Best in Show at Westminster. (See “The Toast of Blakeen” for more on this magnificent champion.)
In this delightful picture from the AKC Museum of the Dog collection, Earl captures the mischief and vivacity so typical of Yorkies. “You can’t paint dogs unless you understand them,” Earl said. “I don’t mean merely from the fancier’s point of view. You must know whether they are happy and comfortable, and if not, why not. You must know how to quiet them when they become excited and nervous. You must know all their little likes and dislikes, and this knowledge comes from long experience.”
Want to learn more about Maud Earl? I suggest this article from Gray’s Sporting Journal, or this post from the William Secord Gallery.
Find more information about the museum and see lovely images on the AKC Museum of the Dog’s website and Facebook page. (Follow them on Twitter, too: @DogArtMuseum.)