Queen Victoria (Alexandrina Victoria, May, 1819 – January, 1901) was the longest reigning monarch in British history (63 years) from June 20, 1837 until her death. She ushered in the Victorian Era, a time known for its stiff oppression.
Fortunately, Queen Victoria was also known for her great love of pets in general, and dogs in particular. During her reign, dogs became beloved companions — even valued family members who were brought into the home and often treated as well as children. In Victorian times, pets often had their own maids to care for them.
Victoria described her own childhood as “melancholy.” Her mother was extremely protective, having, for the most part, isolated Victoria to prevent her from meeting undesirable people.
One of Victoria’s greatest joys as a child, and throughout her life, was derived from her pets. Dash, her Cavalier King Charles Spaniel, was her companion through childhood. As Victoria matured, it was Albert’s connection with Dash that won her heart and led them to marriage in 1840.
On the day she was crowned in 1837, Victoria wrote in her diary that she returned home to give Dash a bath.
Among Victoria’s many pets were Nero and Eso, both greyhounds, Hector, a Mastiff and Lory, a parrot. Upon her accession to the throne, the Shah of Iran presented Victoria with a pair of Tibetan goats that were the beginnings of a royal goat herd.
In part, thanks to Victoria’s exuberance for animals, both the merchant class and the aristocrats of the 1800s loved their dogs and invited them into their homes. Portraits with dogs became popular. If a person did not have one of their own, they would hire a prop dog to sit for their portrait.
The Victorians were the first to work with purebreds. Many of the breeds we know today originated in the 1800s. Among these were the Maltese, the Yorkshire Terrier, the Syke Terrirer, and the Pomeranian, a favorite of the Queen.
Queen Victoria had the power to release prisoners, and did so often during jubilees. But the one type of prisoner she would not pardon was one convicted of cruelty to animals. It was during her time that animal welfare groups, including the SPCA had their beginnings.
Like Queen Victoria, one of my greatest joys comes from the animals in my life in general, and a three-legged Golden Doodle named Gidget, in particular.
She’s a water dog who loves to surf, sail, paddle board and doodle dance. Her most endearing habit is her insistence on bringing a gift –her favorite toy or a tissue or even a dirty sock – to anyone who enters the door.
Does your pet have a habit you’d like to share? (good or bad!)
Racing Nellie Bly
Victorian Secrets From Footnotes In History