Dogs have become famous symbols for many different brands. Some are so connected to the brand that their image instantly brings to mind the product or business it represents. With clever marketing and advertising, these dogs have made a huge impression on their viewing audiences, sometimes even taking on an almost cult-like following that shadows the original product they represent.
RCA Victor: Nipper
One of the classic icons of advertising, Nipper was shown sitting next to a large old-fashioned cylinder phonograph by Edison Bell. Nipper was first seen in a painting done by Francis James Barraud, the brother of Nipper’s original owner. Named for his habit of trying to nip visitors in the legs, the white Terrier with dark ears was born in 1894 and only lived for a year. His painting was done three years after his death.
Nipper became registered as the image of RCA for use in the United States in 1900. He represented RCA Victor Talking Machine Company, HMV, JVC, His Master’s Voice, and then RCA Victor. In later advertisements starting in 1991, a puppy companion named Chipper was added to some of the pictures.
I take a ridiculous number of pet photographs. Every time one of our pets strikes a new pose or just looks extra adorable, I snap a picture. Most of my animal-loving friends do the same thing, and have a ton of pet photos on their camera phone. When I look at the photos of my pets or photos other people have taken of their pets, it’s a treat to see the strong connection between photographer and pet. Without trying to sound too cheesy, it’s like I see the animal through a lens of love.
That’s probably the first thing that grabbed me when I stumbled upon artist John Dolan’s sketches of George the Dog. Long before I learned about their incredible life together, I responded to the connection that was so evident in the simple black and white portraits John drew of his beloved George. And, like me, it seems that John picks up pen and paper as often as I pick up my camera; he’s created hundreds of pen and ink drawings of George the Dog in a variety of positions and circumstances. It’s heartwarming.
To discover Dolan’s art is one thing, but when you learn more about the back story, it’s quite another. The first time his art and story came to my attention was via an article in the UK publication, the Hackney Citizen. Apparently this exceptionally talented guy has a rocky past that includes multiple jail stays. He eventually ended up living on the streets of London before he was “discovered,” and he attributes all of his success to George the Dog.
Dogs have wended their way into the creative world of television and print cartoons over the decades. Their anthropomorphized personalities give them a connection with the human viewers while still maintaining their canine features. Although there are many, these chosen five have stood the test of time over cartoon history and become beloved dog icons. Their simple humor appeals to children and adults alike.
Scooby-Doo was originally created for Hanna-Barbera productions for a show called Scooby-Doo, Where Are you! in 1969. The television show, written by Ken Spears and Joe Ruby, ran on CBS from 1969 until 1976. It went to ABC from there and ran from 1976 until 1986. It even had a spinoff show that ran for three years called A Pup Named Scooby-Doo. The big, clumsy, lovable cartoon dog managed to stick around through various shows and made his way into movie form in Scooby-Doo in 2002 and Scooby-Doo 2: Monsters Unleashed in 2004.
Cartoons take a while to become the characters we grow to know and love. Starting with a concept, they go through changes until the show goes live for the first time. After an uproar from parent watch groups concerned with the violence of Saturday morning cartoons, the challenge was put out to create cartoons that were child friendly. One of the creations was Scooby-Doo, who was originally going to be a sheepdog named Too Much. The teenaged human characters were based on characters in the television comedy show, The Many Lives of Dobie Gillis. Scooby-Doo’s name was inspired by a line in the Frank Sinatra song, Strangers in the Night.
In the early 1900s, the notion of flying an airplane over the North Pole was considered dangerous and an almost impossible task. Umberto Nobile’s dream was to fly a dirigible over the top of the world, and he wasn’t deterred by skeptics who scoffed at his insane idea. Nobile was a determined adventurer and with his loyal dog Titina by his side, he made a historic flight over the Arctic in an airship. This earned them recognition as the first man and dog to fly over the North Pole.
Titina was a stray Fox Terrier wandering the streets of Rome when she found Nobile one day in 1925. The two month old pup was lost, starving, and desperate for help. She approached him, stood up on her hind legs and pawed the air with her front feet. He bent down and petted her on the head. Unable to leave her behind, Nobile scooped her up and carried her home. From that moment on, Titina followed Nobile wherever he went.
She didn’t share her owner’s love of flying, but her desire to be with him was stronger than her fear. Nobile had intended to leave Titina at home during his 1926 flight over the Arctic, but the little dog wasn’t about to be left behind. As his airship the Norge rose from the ground, Nobile clutched Titina tight against his chest as thousands of well wishers cheered. A green, red and white Italian sash hung around the dog’s neck. The Norge headed north and began a journey that would make Titina and Nobile household names.
Beginning with George Washington up to our current president, dogs have lived in the White House with their elected leaders. President Franklin D. Roosevelt had his share of presidential pets, but his favorite canine and constant companion was Fala, a Scottish Terrier who in many ways helped to shape our country.
Fala was born April 7, 1940, and was destined to become one of the most beloved presidential pets of all time. The dog, whose name was Big Boy at the time, was given to Roosevelt by Mrs. Augustus Kellog, but it was Roosevelt’s cousin Margaret “Daisy” Suckley who socialized and trained the puppy before presenting him to the president as an early Christmas gift. By the time Fala entered the White House in November, he knew how to behave, roll over, sit up and jump.
Roosevelt wasn’t keen on the name Big Boy and promptly changed it to Murray the Outlaw of Falahill, after a Scottish ancestor from the 1400s who was apparently of questionable character. The name was soon shortened to Fala. Roosevelt was a huge dog lover, but was persuaded to leave his bigger dogs at home in Hyde Park, New York. Without a canine companion in the White House, people around Roosevelt thought he seemed distant at times and hoped the pup would provide comfort and cheer him up. Fala and Roosevelt quickly bonded and the two became inseparable, much to Eleanor’s dismay; she constantly had to contend with Roosevelt crossing her name off a list of people accompanying him on trips and replacing it with Fala’s.
Jim was a black and white Llewellyn Setter that astounded the world during the 1930s with amazing talents no one could explain. Not only was he crowned top hunting dog in the entire United States, his reputation of understanding the spoken word earned him the title of Jim the Wonder Dog.
Born in Louisiana in 1925 to purebred champion hunting dogs, Jim’s special talents were yet to be discovered. He wasn’t a cute pup and his owner didn’t think he’d be a good hunting dog, so he sold Jim to Sam Van Arsdale at a discounted price. A special bond quickly developed between man and pup, and Jim’s ugly duckling appearance faded as he grew.
When Jim was old enough to begin bird dog training, Van Arsdale took him to a trainer. However, Jim had no interest in learning; all he wanted to do was lie under a shade tree and watch the other dogs go through training exercises. Even though Jim failed his training, Van Arsdale decided to take him hunting one day and to his amazement, Jim knew exactly what to do. He quickly located birds, held a perfect point and waited until a shot rang out. On command to fetch, Jim picked up the bird and took it to Van Arsdale.
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