Traveling with dogs “back then”

Traveling with Dogs “back then”

By Marcia Schlehr, Author and Historian 
of the Golden Retriever Club of America

Image courtesy of National Railway Museum pictorial collection/Science & Society Picture Library

Traveling with Dogs

It was the railroad that made it possible for the upper class to maintain both a home in the city, and a country estate. The railroad also enabled people to visit almost anywhere in the country, and those house parties and “long weekends” that were such a feature of Victorian life. The scene in the railroad station “Going South” would be a typical scene as families begin their journey back to their southern estates at the end of “the Season” in the North. The earlier scene “Going North” would be much the same.

Households such as Lord Tweedmouth’s travelled with rather a large group. The family, of course, and with them a number of servants to attend, both personal servants such as valets, ladies’ maids, governess, probably the butler (who headed the staff) and perhaps others. And of course someone to look after the dogs. The gun dogs, as shown in this beautiful painting, travelled with kennel men. Not in crates as we would do today, but simply on leashes. They’d generally be in the baggage car, leashes tied to a railing, with keeper or kennel man in attendance. Small pet dogs might travel with their owners, carried in arms or in a covered wicker box or basket.

From London to “the end of the line” was at least twelve hours, often an overnight journey. But the family in their private compartment would have every convenience. The servants in coach, a bit less– but still, something of a holiday for them as well.

The last station on the way to Guisachan was Beauly. There, the family would be met by a carriage and driver from Guisachan, as well as perhaps a wagon for the baggage and servants. The smaller dogs got to ride: the big dogs might have to trot alongside the vehicles the two hours or so to their destination. No doubt all were very glad to at last pass through the wrought iron gates at the edge of Tomich village, and down the long gravelled driveway to the manor house, and for the dogs, the luxurious kennel home where they could rest, at last.

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