Sunday, November 6, 2022

Man's Best Friend

My blog posts normally come from something I've written but this week I decided to do some reading on dogs, and their place in the 1800's. My mind has been on dogs and puppies this week, partly because we have a new member in our family. We didn't set out to acquire a new dog. We have an older dog, and didn't think he needed more furry friends other than our three cats, but life had something else in mind. 

Before I get into my research, let me introduce you to Puppy. Yes, I know, not a unique name. We could have named him 'don't do that,' or 'stop that'.  You see, he's about six weeks old, and he is a hand full! He's into everything, chewing on anything that moves and is just a lot of work. He's just like a baby. I have to get up about every three hours to feed him and take him out to do his business. 

I will say on his behalf, we have no idea what he had been taught or has suffered. He was set out alongside the road to fend for himself, until my husband found him. He was just sitting there in the middle of the road looking so cute, dirty and pitiful.  He has no manners, was starving, and had to have some emergency medicines to rid his tiny body of several kinds of worms. For six weeks old, he's very smart and can be loving when he's not biting me. :) 

Onto the Research

I never really thought about dogs until I wrote Sweet Prince. I don't recall if I mentioned what year the story took place, but it was somewhere in the 1400's.  I wanted the main character to have a dog so I had to learn where dogs came from and what kind of dog he could have had in that era.  

History says dogs came to America after crossing from Siberia to Alaska, and it was during this period that the domestication of dogs began in America.  It is theorized that there were four separate introductions of the dog over the past nine thousand years,[1] in which five different lineages were founded in the Americas.[3] 

I found some of this information HERE online.  

General Custer

One of the most interesting things I learned was about General George Custer. I don't think there was ever anything about the man I really admired. At least now, after reading and studying on the topic of dogs, I can say the man loved his dogs and cared greatly for them. 

History says he had at least forty dogs. I can only imagine how much time and money something like that would take. He hired men to care for his dogs and talked about his love for them. While Custer probably had other dogs before he went to West Point, his first documented dog was named Byron, an English Greyhound he had while he and his wife were living in Texas. 

Soon after, Custer became enamored with the hunting dogs that Texas planters were using, and some of his friends gave him dogs from their packs. These were Scottish Staghounds, known today as Scottish Deerhounds. 

If you'd like to read more about Custer and his life and love for dogs, I found a really good article on the topic. It was very interesting. You can read about his love for dogs HERE and HERE.

Civil War

I read an article that said when men go off to war they try to take as much of home with them as they can, and that many of them took their dogs.  

I also assume they found some along the way. Many of the Infantries had mascots and you can tell the men had a lot of love for Man's best friend from the letters and articles I found.  You can read some of the stories here.  

Dogs also played a big part in the Civil War. They looked for food and water. They crossed enemy lines to carry information, they watched over the prisoners, they were companions and improved soldiers morale. They were even included on monuments, memorials and in pictures. I'm sure they could have also helped to find the dead or wounded as they did in WW1. 

I'm sure most of you have had a dog at some point in your life or been around one, but if not, trust me, they are very smart. They can remember many commands. Why, we even had to spell things around two of our smartest dogs! And I declare, I think they even learned how to spell. One day I hope to write down a list of all of the words that my dog, Jack, knew, and the tricks that he learned to do. One of the biggest, as a cute side note, was 'spit it out.'  He spit out many things, from live bunny rabbits, to cats, chicken bones, etc. You name it, Jack had it in his mouth. 

Dogs in General 

I'll add though, I didn't have time for more research. I'm sure that dogs were a big help in many ways to the settlers. I'm sure they used them to hunt, to trail, to protect. Maybe they watched over the children while Mother was doing the laundry or working in the garden. They've laid in the yard and slept on floors, listening and waiting, to be of help. 

Dogs have been known to pull wagons, carry food, and letters. I can only guess how they helped to make this country what it is in many ways. If nothing else, the sweet companionship that they offer us wishing for nothing but love, kindness and something to eat. 

Please feel free to share about a favorite pet of yours or a story about one of them. Thanks for reading. I hope to delve deeper into some of the research that I did for Sweet Prince at some point in the future. It was a fun, fairytale type book with talking animals and a sweet, clean romance. 

Website Facebook Group Contact Us Samantha Fury is the author of  the Street Justice Series.  She's written many articles on book covers, for Indie Authors. She operates several Indie Groups. Editing Services, Cover Artist, Helpful Indie Facebook Groups. 

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