Picture Taking

It would seem at the first glance that to write on this subject was only a

waste of time and energy, and yet I know that no one feature of the dog

business is more vital in importance or more fraught with trouble than

this apparently simple process of dog photography.

The novice will at once exclaim: What could be more natural than sending

on a picture of a dog I want to sell to the prospective customer? Surely

he can see exactly what he is purchasing! This may be perfectly true, and

yet again it may not.

I am not writing of the subject of false pictures on the stud cards of

some unscrupulous breeders, or those pictures taken of dogs whose markings

are faked, only too common in some quarters. The photos look good, of

course, to the buyer, but when the dog arrives, he finds, to his disgust,

that the beautiful markings, in some mysterious manner, got rubbed off

while making the journey in the crate. I recently saw a photograph of a

dog sold to a Western customer, by a dealer in an adjoining town to mine,

taken by an artist in photography when the dog was all chalked up. When

the dog arrived he was as free from nose band as my pocket is frequently

of a dollar bill. Small wonder the buyer remarked with emphasis that the

dealer was a fraud. One can almost forgive his exclamation, which he

surely had not learned at Sunday school, at being taken in, in so mean a


I am writing more particularly of the art of the photographer in bringing

out the best points of the dog, and effectually hiding the poorer ones.

How many times have we heard the dealer say, in speaking of a dog with

good markings, but off in many other respects: He will make a good seller

to ship away, as I can get a good looking picture of him. He knows

perfectly well that a clever photographer can so pose the dog as to hide

bad defects. A long muzzle, a long back, or one badly roached, poor tail,

bad legs and feet, can all be minimized by posing the dog on the stand.

The buyer, on receipt of the dog, although thoroughly dissatisfied, will

have to admit that the photo is a genuine one, and, in most cases, is

unable to obtain any redress.

Another very important side of dog photography is the mania for picture

collecting. Some time ago I saw a signed article in Dogdom, from a very

charming lady living in a city fifty miles from Boston, asserting she was

about to retire from the Boston terrier game, as it cost her too much to

furnish photos of her dogs to people from all parts of the country, who,

under the guise of wishing to buy dogs, wanted photos and pedigrees of the

same. They usually stated that if they did not purchase the dog, the photo

and pedigree would be promptly returned. This was the last she ever heard

of them, and pictures were rarely if ever, returned. As her photos were

taken by a first class photographer, the cost was considerable, and the

photos were really works of art, which, perhaps, may be one reason why the

recipients could not bear to let them go back. She was a lady of large

wealth, and she had established a kennel of real Bostons, presided over by

an expert kennel-maid, and would have become a genuine help to the breed,

but pictures were her undoing.

Since the American dog has become the most popular breed in the canine

world, many people, who cannot afford to purchase a choice specimen, seem

to rest satisfied when they can obtain a photo, and they have no scruples

apparently in writing to the leading kennels for pictures of their leading

dogs. I have had many instances come under my notice, but, for want of

space, only one typical case can be mentioned.

A few years ago, on visiting a city a short distance from Boston, I was

accosted by a young man, rather flashily attired, who invited me to call

and see his kennels, assuring me he had some crackerjacks. As I was

unaware of the existence of any number of A-1 Bostons in his neighborhood,

my curiosity was aroused and I went. I found the dogs quartered in a back

room in a very small house. I have never seen such a collection of the

aristocrats of the breed before or since.

When I found my voice, I managed to exclaim: Allow me to congratulate

you, my dear sir, I have never seen so many good dogs kenneled in so small

a space before. You are certainly a very lucky man; the food problem never

troubles you; you do not have to dodge the tax collector; no need ever to

call in a vet.; no neighbors can ever complain of being kept awake at

night, and the dogs that are tacked upon the ceiling seem just as content

as those pasted on the walls.

He then produced his book where the pedigrees of the dogs were neatly

recorded. The trouble is, he is not the only one who owns such a kennel of


It must not be inferred from the above that I am averse to picture taking.

By no means. They are absolutely necessary. But make them Pen Pictures.

Write a complete description of the dog in question, giving actual weight,

age, conformation, color and markings, condition of health, and

disposition. State the color of the brindle and the extent of the markings

whether full or partial. Do not state that the dog has perfect markings if

it lacks a collar or white feet. If banded only on one side of the muzzle,

say so. If pinched or undershot, say so. If roached in back, poor eyes,

weak in hind quarters or off in tail, say so. In fact, plainly state any

defects. At the same time, if the dog is practically O. K. in all

respects, stylish and trappy, do not hesitate to emphasize the fact, and

if the dog likewise possesses a charming, delightful personality, make the

most of it. Always remember that the perfect Boston terrier dies young!

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