~ DOGS OF WAR Exhibition ~ 25th January - 15th April 2005
25th January 2005
The Kennel Club Art Gallery
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The exhibition pays homage to the brave dogs that gave their lives or worked so tirelessly in times of conflict.
To look at the origins of dogs in war you would need to travel back thousands of years to the times of the Egyptian Pharaohs who were the proud owners of both watchdogs and war dogs. Jumping forward, the Romans took giant breeds, especially bred for fighting and covered from head to tail in armour, into battle. However it is important not to forget that Stone Age man made use of watchdogs to protect his cave.
When studying the origins of the first British war dogs we need to acknowledge the work of Colonel Edwin H. Richardson. After retiring from the army as a major before the outbreak of World War One, he spent the following fifteen years breeding and training a variety of dogs as sentinels, guard dogs and ambulance dogs. Despite his successes it took Richardson several years to convince the War Office of the vital role dogs could play. The Germans and French had a long association with the use of dogs in war, but in Britain the official sanction of use was given in 1916 with the opening of the War Dog Training School in Shoeburyness.
The Kennel Club’s Dogs in War exhibition, which takes place from 25th January - 15th April 2005, consists of an assortment of artefacts. These include a collection of photographs from the Imperial War Museum, collars from the Dog Collar Museum at Leeds Castle, and the Dickin Medal won by Buster who uncovered a hidden stash of weapons and explosives in Iraq. We are also privileged to display images from the Libby Hall collection, which can
be seen in her book entitled “Postcard Dogs” published by Bloomsbury Publishing. A parachute harness, and a jacket owned by a Royal Flying Corps Officer, both designed to be worn by dogs, along with a rather gruesome explosives collar, add to the diversity of the exhibition. All of these artefacts highlight the vital role dogs have played during times of war and civil unrest. The exhibition promises to be an exciting and evocative display, located within the splendour of the Kennel Club’s own Art Gallery.
The Kennel Club wishes to thank the many canine, military and art organisations which assisted in making this exhibition possible and acknowledges the private collectors and letter writers who have assisted us in our research and the search for exhibits. Everyone involved has helped the Kennel Club Art Gallery achieve its goal of raising awareness of one of the many fundamental roles dogs have played within our society, whilst paying tribute to their efforts.
Visitors to the exhibition can only stop to reflect on how man’s best friend has stood by his master through thick and thin, often risking his life in the process.