Club hopes to breed in­ter­est in pure­breds

Boston Herald - - NEWS -

NEW YORK — It’s a mu­seum that in­vites vis­i­tors to come! Sit! And stay. The Amer­i­can Ken­nel Club Mu­seum of the Dog opens Feb. 8 in mid­town Man­hat­tan, re­turn­ing to New York af­ter three decades on the out­skirts of St. Louis. The col­lec­tion boasts por­traits of royal and pres­i­den­tial pets, ar­ti­facts that trace ca­nine his­tory as far back as an es­ti­mated 30 mil­lion-yearold fos­sil, and de­vices that “match” vis­i­tors’ faces with dog breeds and let peo­ple try their hand at ba­sic dog train­ing with a vir­tual puppy. While there won’t be ac­tual dogs ex­cept for special oc­ca­sions, the mu­seum hopes to give vis­i­tors “an un­der­stand­ing of the his­tory of dogs, how they came to be in such dif­fer­ent va­ri­ety,” said Ex­ec­u­tive Di­rec­tor Alan Fausel, a long­time art cu­ra­tor and ap­praiser seen on PBS’ “An­tiques Road­show.” About 150 pieces from the ken­nel club’s ex­ten­sive, mostly do­nated col­lec­tion are on view at the mu­seum, which also has a li­brary area for pe­rus­ing some of the club’s 15,000 books. Fanciers will find images and in­for­ma­tion on ca­nines from bull­dogs to bor­zois to Bedling­ton ter­ri­ers. There are some just-don’t-knows, but the col­lec­tion is focused on pure­breds. The ken­nel club, which runs the na­tion’s old­est pure­bred dog reg­istry, has taken heat over the years from an­i­mal-wel­fare ac­tivists who view dog breed­ing as a beauty con­test that fu­els puppy mills. The club ar­gues there’s value in breed­ing to hone var­i­ous traits, from com­pan­ion­abil­ity to bomb-sniff­ing acu­men, and hopes the mu­seum helps make the case. “I think the best thing to take away is the fact that dogs were meant to have dif­fer­ent jobs,” Fausel said. “It’s learn­ing why they were pur­posely bred for cer­tain jobs, and their ac­tiv­i­ties and their at­tributes.” The ex­hi­bi­tion ranges from the sci­en­tific — such as a skele­ton of a 19th-cen­tury smooth fox ter­rier that was im­por­tant to shap­ing the breed — to the whim­si­cal, in­clud­ing one of pho­tog­ra­pher Wil­liam Weg­man’s images of Weimaran­ers in hu­man­like sit­u­a­tions (in this case, ca­noe­ing). There’s also a tiny, elab­o­rate, Ed­war­dianstyle dog house for a Chi­huahua, and a wall of movie posters cel­e­brat­ing ca­nine stars from “Lassie” to “Beethoven.” Other pieces speak to dogs’ stature in real life. A paint­ing of a fox ter­rier mourn­fully rest­ing its head on an empty arm­chair de­picts Cae­sar, a pet so cher­ished by Bri­tain’s King Ed­ward VII that the dog marched promi­nently in the monarch’s 1910 fu­neral pro­ces­sion.


CA­NINE CAS­TLE: Among the dis­plays at the Amer­i­can Ken­nel Club Mu­seum of the Dog, which opens next month, is an elab­o­rate Ed­war­dian-style dog­house for a Chi­huahua.

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