Leslie Przybylek, Senior Curator, #Pixburgh, Heinz History Center:
In the process of searching for images for #Pixburgh, we found that some themes in the photos came up again and again. One of those themes was dogs. Pittsburghers have loved their dogs and they loved taking photos of them.
This great mural image you see here is the Hill family. They’re from Washington County in about 1902. But we have this great image of the dog literally seated right in the middle of the family pack. And even though the image is from 1902, in some ways the dog makes it almost timeless, helps us connect with an image from the past.
I think the numbers are that today, about two-thirds of Americans live with some kind of pet and 90 percent of us think the dog is part of the family.
Now, let’s face it – dog images can just be fun, they echo our moods, they can be goofy, they’ve been loyal companions, even doing things that I suspect the dog would not have chosen to do.
We have a marvelous series of photos in the collection, from a collection called the Taylor Family Collection that documents life in the suburban Friendship neighborhood in Pittsburgh in the 1950s and ‘60s.
The family took countless pictures of Cindy the family Beagle: Cindy sitting on a car; Cindy helping out with the family barbeque; Cindy drinking beer.
But these pictures really remind us of suburban life in the 1950s and ‘60s – the post-war baby boom, when the kid-friendly Beagle officially reigned as America’s top dog. So the dog becomes a symbol of something more in American culture.